Besides making gingerbread houses, there are many other uses for this tasty holiday treat.

Miniature Gingerbread Houses

What you need:

n Single serving milk cartons, empty and washed;

n White Icing mixed with cream of tartar. (Icing may be store bought or made from a recipe);

n Graham cracker squares;

n Decorations, candies, sprinkles or other holiday treats.

How to make:

Get organized first.

Have all of your decorations, candies and such in individual bowls, containers or bags.

Prepare white icing or frosting if you are not using store bought.

Each person should have their own single serving milk carton. Place your carton on a sheet of waxed paper on top of heavy cardboard or a paper plate.

Attach graham cracker squares to sides of carton by spreading icing/frosting on carton and pressing cracker firmly onto carton.

Do the same for the roof using two graham cracker squares.

For area between sides and roof — cut a graham cracker in half on diagonal to form a triangle and attach the same way.

Once you have your sides and roof attached use icing or frosting to attach decorations and candies to your house.

You can pipe icing or frosting into the cracks with a cake decorator or with a plastic bag filled with icing or frosting.

Use your imagination to create windows and doors with different shaped and colored candies or pretzels.

You can spread icing or frosting around your house on the paper plate or waxed paper to form a base that looks like snow. Or, use dried coconut.

Once your creation is complete you can allow to dry overnight and use as a decoration year after year. Or, you can gobble it right up!



Gingerbread Tree Ornaments

If you don’t feel up to creating a gingerbread house, you might try your hand with gingerbread tree ornaments.

Cookies shaped with tin cutters became tree ornaments in the 1600s. They were first hung on the early table-top trees and later adorned the larger floor ones.

Annual holiday baking sprees produced the multi-form cookies destined for decorations, stockings, and platters — usually “several wash baskets full.”

As was reported in the York True Democrat in 1868, “Cakes of various forms and quality droop from the different limbs, birds of paradise, humming birds, robins, peewees, and a variety of others seem to twitter among the evergreens.”

And of course, the usual old figures and local motifs abounded — stars, moons and suns, boys’ and girls’ toys, animals and human figures were common and later the evolved Santa figure.

During the late 19th century, with increasingly commercial Christmas observance, they took on the created images of the season — wreaths, stars, Santas, elves, stockings, snowmen, trees, sleds and toys.



Gingerbread Men Ornaments

Ingredients

1/2 cup cinnamon

1/2 cup applesauce

2 tablespoons glue

Directions

Mix together and roll out onto wax paper. Use a gingerbread cookie cutter to cut out the shape. Poke a hole on the top with a straw. Let air dry for a couple of days. Then you can paint them if you like, but the smell is wonderful! This makes about six ornaments.

Remember these are NOT edible.



Heavy Duty Gingerbread Ornaments

Makes 30 ornaments

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons shortening

2 teaspoons Baking soda

2 teaspoons cloves, ground

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

7 cups flour

1-1/2 cups water

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix shortening and 1 cup of sugar together in a large bowl. Add baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, flour and 1-1/2 cups of water. When mixed completely, refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Roll gingerbread out to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured surface or on wax paper. Poke a hole in the top of each ornament using a straw, knife, chopstick, pencil or similar object.

Put cutouts on cookie sheet and bake 20-minutes in 325-degree oven.

After 20-minutes, turn oven off, leaving cookies inside oven to continue the drying process.

After 1 hour, move cookies to a rack and allow to sit untouched for 1-3 days or until completely dry and hard.

When cookies are dry, spray with clear acrylic paint or brush with clear varnish and allow cookie coating to dry completely.

Gingerbread cookies can be decorated by children of all ages. You can change the body color of the gingerbread men/women by applying colored frosting, colored glues and more. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

Glue

Gingerbread cookies can be decorated or colored by using household glue. Since no one will be eating the cookies, glue is a cost-effective alternative to using frosting, which often cakes off and doesn't preserve well.

Use glue to attach eyes, ears, clothing and other objects to gingerbread men and women. Glue can also be colored by adding dyes or paints to the glue and mixing well.

Paints

Acrylic paints can be used in place of frosting or glue to decorate ornaments. Children and adults can use paints to add clothing, features or body parts (such as fingers, toes, eyes, mouths) to ornaments. Paint on with a paint brush or purchase small spray cans of acrylic paints to color coordinate each ornament before adding features.

Candy

Red hots can be glued to ornaments and used as eyes, buttons on clothing, noses and more.

Lemon drops make great eyes and buttons, too.

Licorice strips torn into thin bands can be glued to the face of the ornament to make a smile or frown or other facial expression.

Chocolate chips can also be used as an easy decoration for gingerbread men.

Sugar sprinkles that are colored can be sprinkled over large areas to color in clothing or hair.

Lifesavers add color to wreath shaped cookies.

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