For as long as I can remember I have loved gingerbread houses. They look good, taste good and are fun to make. It’s a great family Christmas tradition and can be a lovely way to spend some time all together.

But lets be real for a minute.

Life with young kids can be chaotic at best. The thought of baking, building and decorating a gingerbread house with toddlers probably brings you out in a cold sweat – and I don’t blame you! But it can be so much fun and a great activity to pass the time on the run up to Christmas and keep the magic alive. I’ve done it with my boys, aged 2 and 4, and not only lived to tell the tale – I actually enjoyed it. But how did I do it?

The side of a gingerbread house decorated with smarties
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Tips For Making A Gingerbread House With Toddlers

Manage Your Expectations

First and foremost, take your vision of a lovely afternoon decorating gingerbread houses as a family, all joy, peace and perfectly placed sweets and throw it away. You need to prepare yourself for a house thats a little wonky, probably missing sweets in places and a few squabbles along the way. The important thing is to stay calm and relax.

One of the things that gets said a lot in our family is “stop trying to control the fun”. Kids don’t always have the same vision as us, and that’s totally fine! Let them take the lead a little, be that placing sweets in unusual places or helping to stick it all together. If you are relaxed then they will also be relaxed. Let those little hands get stuck in!

Use A Kit

While I applaud people who can use a template and and know how to make a gingerbread house from scratch – when you’re working with toddlers or young kids it’s just not practical. You can cut a few corners buy buying a gingerbread house kit that contains everything you need for an afternoon of fun. You can buy kits that are purely for decorating, with the pieces of the house all ready with icing and sweets for decorating, but I still enjoy the baking element. My kids love to bake too, so one of the standard gingerbread house kits is perfect. Pro Tip: Use a pizza cutter on your dough for a smooth finish around the template.

The back of a gingerbread house on a wooden board
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Get Everything Ready In Advance

It is worth spending a few minutes getting everything out and ready before you let the kids see it. Familiarise yourself with the instructions, hide the bits you don’t need till later (like the sweets for decorating!) and know what your plan of action will be. There is nothing worse then trying to work it all out with over excited kids at your feet.

Give Everyone A Job

Giving everyone an assigned job will save arguments in the long run. Someone will be in charge of pouring, someone stirring, rolling out, cutting, holding the sides, building the roof etc. Even when it comes to the sweets, it is often best to split them up in to bowls and give everyone their own to decorate with. That way there will be no squabbles and it’s all fair.

A gingerbread house being decorated by a toddler. On a wooden board behind it lies a pile of Christmas cookies
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Buy In Some Extra Sweets

This one goes without saying really doesn’t it. Sweets WILL get eaten, I think it’s just what happens when you decorate a gingerbread house with toddlers. Actually not just with toddlers! The kits are great but they don’t always allow for the amount of sweetie eating that goes on, so have some more on hand for finishing off the job.

Be Prepared To Finish It Yourself….

Or to drag them away screaming when it’s done – there never seems to be an in between. After the initial excitement my kids tend to lose interest and I’m left finishing off our projects myself (or in the case of gingerbread houses – trying to salvage them). There is no need to stress about them not wanting to finish it, just get it done yourself and then enjoy eating it with them.

We were gifted a gingerbread house kit in order to create this post.


Fancy giving it a go? I have teamed up with Wicked Uncle to give one of my readers a Gingerbread House Kit. Just enter using the widget below!

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