In my long career as a teacher,the one life lesson I learned was how to make things as simple as possible. After many years of creating complicated gingerbread houses to accompany the story of the Gingerbread Man, I came up with a low mess alternative. This allows you to create a very attractive centerpiece for a holiday table, as well as a fun activity for your children. This technically creates a "Graham Cracker" house, but I have found that children really do not care about the difference. Once you make this version, neither will you.

Things You Will Need

One empty half gallon cardboard milk carton
One box of graham crackers.
One container of white cake icing
Assorted hard candies, candy canes, and twizzlers
A cardboard or wooden base measuring about 1 foot square

Step 1

Cut the milk carton in half to make a short, wide carton. The house will be made from the top half of the carton. The angular top to the carton is pitched like a roof, and will provide you with your template. If you wish to make a gingerbread apartment building instead of a cottage, feel free to skip this step and use the entire carton. Use a little bit of the white icing as glue to attach the carton to the cardboard or wooden base. Try to center the carton on the base, and you will have room to create candy cane and icing landscaping if you wish.

Step 2

With a plastic spatula, coat the carton in a thin layer of white icing. This will be your mortar. Place the graham crackers on the sides and top of the carton as the walls. To make the roof, you will need to balance the crackers with the top edges touching, then use the icing mortar to seal the edges together.

Step 3

Once the graham cracker walls and dried into place, you can begin to decorate your house. I like to use the twizzlers to create rain gutters and spouts and the hard candies to decorate the doors and windows. Candy canes look very nice attached to the sides of the house. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can use candy canes to line a walkway from the front door of your house.

Step 4

When you are finished making your house, place the entire house in your freezer for about one hour to set the icing. Your new Graham Cracker/Gingerbread house should have an indefinite shelf life in the freezer, and about 3 weeks on your counter or table.

If you follow the directions exactly as I have laid them out, you will have created a beautiful no bake candy house to use as a centerpiece for your dinner table or a conversation piece for your coffee table.

Tips & Warnings

Icing can be very messy, especially if children are making this project with you. When icing gets on hands, your body heat makes it very sticky. Keep a package of baby wipes or a bowl of warm soapy water nearby for quick hand washing. It is infinitely easier to clean icing off of hands than off of pants, shirts, and skirts.