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A Very Merry Christmas!! (and how we make our gingerbread houses)


This is such a wonderful time of year.  Christmas, I mean. 


Our local newspaper has been spotlighting secret “Layaway Angels” who have been secretly paying off random Layaway Bills at retail stores.  These un-named “angels” are in special search of layaway orders with children’s clothing and toys.  What a wonderful surprise that would be to go the store to pay off another chunk of your bill for Christmas gifts…..and then to hear that your whole bill has been paid.  I love to hear about random kindness.  People have good hearts.  And this season magnifies it.

. . .




We are all ready for Christmas.  And so excited to be near family this year.  I haven’t been sewing much this week.  Or doing any extra projects.  Mostly just a bit of shopping, wrapping (and more wrapping), and making ingredient lists for holiday food.  Yum.


We also made Gingerbread (graham cracker) Houses yesterday.  This is something I have done every year since I was a little girl.  Every year.  No skipping.  My mom was an elementary school teacher for years and she made these simple little houses with her students every year too.


Christmas isn’t Christmas for me, without constructing an edible Christmas House…..packed with all the candy I can smother my cookie house with.  And now my kids are part of the same tradition.



To make the house, you need glue.  But it has to be edible. 


So here’s the recipe my mom has used for years and years.  And no joke, this stuff dries quickly and helps your structure to stay put.  And keeps all the candy right in place……which is very important! :)



My mom mentioned to me that the water is so variable.  Sometimes it’s less and sometimes it’s more…..but she always starts with about a 1/4 cup and then adds more as needed.  You want your icing to be kinda thick but not too thick to squeeze through your pastry tip.  But not watery at all.  (If you don’t have a pastry bag/tip…….just put the icing down into the corner of a baggie and cut the tip off.  We did that all growing up.)


The other thing, is that my mom always buys the regular ‘ol Honey Maid brand graham crackers.  The off-brands tend to break and sometimes aren’t perfectly squared off on the corners.  So keep that in mind.  (The other thing she always does if helping small kids, is she cuts the graham crackers to the shapes she needs for the walls and roof and then lets the kids decorate each piece while it lays flat on the table.  After the candy dries onto the house parts, she then constructs the house and puts all the pieces together with the frosting.)


**One more thing……to cut the graham crackers, use a serrated knife.  Cut slowly and it will cut nice and clean for you.



My sisters’ kids came yesterday to make their gingerbread houses with us.  Yep, even the teenagers came.  It’s tradition, remember?



  And grandma was right there helping out, like always.  I think she is secretly thrilled that they all still want to make Christmas Gingerbread Houses with her.



There’s always one or two that make the traditional Victorian style house…..and cover it with vivid candies of all shapes and sizes.  But, there’s also some creativity that sneaks in there too.  Like, my niece who patterned her structure after Frank Lloyd Wright’s style of architecture.  She even had her mom’s cell phone propped up nearby for inspiration.  Very modern and clean lines.




And then my other niece made the cutest little things out of gumdrops.  Here’s her little pup.  Complete with its own little doghouse and food bowl. 




And then my husband…….well, haha, he made Santa’s outhouse.  Because, as he explained, “Santa Poops Too!”




I love family traditions.  And this is one that lives on, year after year. 


And I love my mom for having the patience to make one with all 7 of us kids year after year……..and then even more patience to make them with whichever grandkids are nearby during the Christmas season.



I truly hope you’re all enjoying your holiday. And are nearby family and/or close friends.  Christmas is all about love and giving and service and good will.  And most importantly……the Christ child, who taught us all these things through his example.


From my family to yours…….I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!


See you soon.




Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Shaneka says:

    Thank you for the recipe for the icing it worked great we had fun decorating the houses

  2. Heather says:

    You don’t use something called Tylose edible powder everyone recommends?
    I want to make a gingerbread box like a biscuit tin.

  3. Denise says:

    can the icing be made ahead or does it need to be fresh?

  4. Megan W. says:

    We are making these tonight for FHE and my husband told me “Everything I need to know in life I learned in Kindergarten” because it’s so true. Tell your mom thanks! :) And thanks for blogging this so that I know the proper way to make a gingerbread house. I really think, aside from the random year that my grandma sent us some gingerbread pieces, that I only made gingerbread houses in kindergarten and first grade!

  5. Nejla says:

    awesome! Great to do this with the whole family!

  6. Mary says:

    This is always such a great project for families to work on. This is my first visit to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier entries. I’m so glad I did that. You’ve created a great spot for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here. I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  7. Angela Busselberg says:

    We do gingerbread houses every year too….. but we added another tradition. On New Years Eve, we let the boys lace them with fireworks and let them go BOOM! Because, who really eats them?

  8. Emilie says:

    We buy pour powdered sugar in bulk. So in case anyone was wondering (as I was)
    2 lbs = 8 cups of UNSIFTED powdered sugar.

  9. Kathie says:

    Too cute!! Merry Christmas! :D

  10. Sanztosi says:

    Happy christmas

  11. sol says:

    Mmmmh, que rico!!!! Cuantas cosas dulces, y que lindo momento en familia!!! Feliz navidad.

  12. Lindsey says:

    Love the tradition! Thanks so much for the icing recipe! I’m always looking for one with a stronger hold, and you seem to be a bit of an expert :) in the house building area considering you’ve never missed a year. Oh, and I have to thank you for posting your magnetic paper dolls, too. After seeing your post and then randomly seeing a cute paper doll book at the store, I knew that I had to make them for my nieces…I just had to. So even though I’d already finished their Christmas shopping months ago, I stayed up late every night this week to make the magnetic paper dolls, and I’m so glad I did. My husband made fun of me today when the girls were opening them because he wasn’t sure who was more excited about the dolls (me or the girls). And don’t worry, I product tested them before I gave them away. I forgot how fun paper dolls are and then multiply the fun by 10 when they stick together without messing with all the tabs. Thanks for the awesome idea. It was one of my very favorite Christmas presents I gave this year.

  13. Taylor says:

    I am a teacher too, and two of my coworkers make houses out of graham crackers, but they use empty, clean milk cartons (from the school cafeteria) as support. Since they are doing the project with 18 3rd graders at one time, the students NEED those milk cartons. =) Merry Christmas!!! =)

  14. Bethany says:

    How much fun! Love that tradition and the creativity! So tempted to try this one next year with the kids. Thanks for sharing!

  15. m @ random musings says:

    what a great tradition! I love how the table is protected with a clear plastic sheet ;-)

  16. Sassy Sites says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!


  17. Ziva says:

    Happy Christmas! Our family tradition is making Christmas cake with Dad. This year we made a gingerbread train with the kids, (we did cheat and bought a kit, but it was heaps of fun anyway)

  18. Stephanie C says:

    I love it!! Especially the outhouse!!! :)

  19. Cecilia says:

    Wow, I loved these pictures!!
    You can tell the grandma is happy from her smile :)
    merry Christmas! :)

  20. Melissa says:

    This is such a fun idea, can’t wait to try it with my little family! How do you cut the graham crackers into triangles, or other shapes, without cracking them?

    1. Ashley says:

      To cut the graham crackers, use a serrated knife. Cut slowly and it will cut nice and clean for you.

      Good luck!


  21. Marne Clark says:

    We do the same thing in our house. I am 35 years old and we did this each year growing up too. My dad made an out house one year…how ironic! :) Great minds think alike. Merry Christmas!

  22. Kennedy says:

    Merry Christmas!!

  23. Nichole says:

    I love it! Merry Christmas!

  24. Heidi Ceto says:

    Haha Santa poop! Love it! What a fun triditon! My sister was blessed to be one of the people to have her laway paid by the angels! Merry Christmas to your family!

  25. Cortney says:

    Wow what a creative little family :) Merry Christmas! God Bless you and your family!

  26. Anne says:

    Oh, I love it! The dog made from gumdrops is my favorite!

  27. Paula says:

    What a lovely tradition and I love the little dog and doghouse and your husband’s creation is cute too! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  28. Erin @ Small and Simple Things says:

    What fun! Merry Christmas to you, too!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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