I have at least two kits for gingerbread houses tucked into odd corners of my kitchen. We never make them up -- space is an issue, and how would we keep the pets away from them? -- but I can't bring myself to throw them away. Nor do I want to open the boxes and actually see the potentially alarming condition of the aging gingerbread. (It's vacuum-sealed from the factory, but still.)
Luckily, gingerbread houses that aren't edible and can't go bad seem to be a hot craft topic this year. I'm not talking about the kind where you coat all the gingerbread with shellac and then use white caulk in place of icing, though that's an option. No, I'm talking about the kind you make out of things that are not food to begin with, thereby thwarting the wiles of your feline and canine housemates.
Farrah already mentioned one done in polymer clay, in her post about Holiday Craft Projects Worth Checking Out. A few more cool candy-coated palaces that you can stitch up from felt and your imagination have turned up in the last week or two; there's also a gingerbread man you can knit. Learn more about them after the break!
mentions this 14' knitted "gingerbread" house
, which is really more of an museum piece than it is anything you'd want to do at home. It was created by British textile artist Alison Murray, who has also written a book that you can order, In Praise of Ginger
. The book has recipes and patterns. If you don't want to order it, you can always download the accompanying Gingerbread Man knitting pattern
On a smaller scale, there are two felt gingerbread houses that you can stitch up, one a little more whimsical than the other.
DIY Network's Uncommon Threads has a Gingerbread House program this year; it has aired several times, and will air a few more times before Christmas. It features Keith Carollo and Chris Bick from Fred Flare, creating an overstuffed felt cottage with a roof made of rainbow-heart shingles and windows embellished with candy-cane stripes. While it might be helpful to actually see the house being created, it's not necessary: the pattern and instructions to make the gingerbread house are also available online.
Homeschoolist has a different, slightly more restrained pattern for a felt gingerbread house [via CRAFT]; it keeps its shape very well because, instead of making a house of felt and then stuffing it, the felt is stitched around a house-shaped form made of seat cushion foam. The roof is made of felt-covered foam-core board and the "icing" is white twisted cord. Shapes are cut out of felt and then detailed with fabric paint.
My suggestion? Use ideas from both gingerbread houses to make one that's all your own! Or visit this virtual gingerbread house creator, where you can decorate to your heart's content without getting glue or icing on your fingers.