Decorating gingerbread houses is usually done with candy, but it’s hard to decide how much to buy.
The size of the house is going to play a part, as will the size of the candy itself and the ages of the people doing the decorating.
So how much candy do you need to plan on for decorating a gingerbread house?
For a small gingerbread house that’s about 6 inches tall, 1 to 4 cups of candy should be enough to decorate the entire thing, depending on how much candy the decorator adds. A house that’s minimally decorated with candy and that has more piping will take less, and a house completely covered in candy will use more.
I used the basic gingerbread house pattern that I have and decorated half in each style, then measured out how much candy it used. Read on for the results!
How much candy for a regular gingerbread house?
I used the template for a small gingerbread house that I use every year, and it’s sized about the same as a regular size kit house.
For a very minimally-decorated house it took 1 cup of candy. For a house that was totally covered in candy, it took 4 cups.
I also weighed different types of candy, and the weight for 1 cup ranged from 4-6 ounces. If you use 5 ounces of weight per cup as a general guideline, that’s a good rough estimate.
|Minimal Candy||Lots of Candy|
|Small Graham Cracker House||1/2 cup (approx. 3 ounces)||1-2 cups (approx. 5-10 ounces)|
|Average-Sized Gingerbread House||1-2 cups (approx. 5-10 ounces)||3-4 cups (approx. 15-20 ounces)|
To get my pattern, click here: How To Make A Small Gingerbread House
The minimal candy count is usually closer to the way that very young kids will decorate a house. Older kids and adults will use more, but it will depend on the amount of piping on the house.
To entirely cover the house, it took a total of 4 cups of candy.
This kind of decorating is what you generally find in older kids who have figured out that the more they put on the house, the more they get to take home.
Most people will fall somewhere in the middle, so you can probably use 2-3 cups per person as a general guideline if you’re planning a party.
That should be enough to leave you with leftovers, which is better than running out.
How much candy for gingerbread houses for preschoolers.
For preschoolers or very young children, 1/2 to 1 cup of candy will likely be enough. It’s likely that they will use less candy than older kids due to a couple of factors. To start, the houses that young children are given to decorate are generally smaller, such as graham cracker houses. Young kids also tend to lose interest in decorating faster, so they usually stop sooner than older kids.
This is definitely a generalization, but younger kids tend to need less candy.
It’s probably also going to be more likely that younger kids are more interested in eating the candy than in decorating with it.
It makes sense to not give them as much to use, since they might not use it the way that you expect.
Plan on approximately 1/2 a cup to 1 cup of candy per child for a graham cracker house, or anything else that’s really small.
The larger limit will be for the kid who wants to cover the entire house, or who eats a lot of the candy.
For a regular-sized house, 1-2 cups of candy per house will probably be enough even if kids want to stick a lot of candy onto the house.
Younger kids generally won’t cover the whole thing, but they might stick a lot on in different places.
It’s probably a good idea to give kids in this age range a limited amount of candy to use so that they have a specific amount to work with.
You can also go for the generic candy, because as long as the colors and shapes are okay, younger kids aren’t going to worry about the brands.
How much candy for gingerbread houses for older kids.
For kids who are older, 2-4 cups of candy for a small to medium gingerbread house is a good estimate. Some will use more and some less, but if the kids are old enough to want to do patterns on their houses, you will usually need more than 1 cup each.
Older kids (middle school and older) may also be able to use a piping bag to add designs to the houses, which will limit the amount of candy needed.
Keep in mind that as kids get older, they usually want to make patterns on their houses, so the designs might need specific colors and shapes.
You can probably limit the type of candy for this age group to three or four varieties.
How much candy for gingerbread houses for adults.
For adults, it’s less likely that they’ll want to completely cover their houses, so you can probably plan on 2-3 cups for an average small-to-medium-sized gingerbread house. Adults will also be able to manage piping bags, so if you offer different colors of royal icing, you can probably plan on 2 cups of candy per person.
Adults might also like to have items that they can use to make more elaborately-decorated houses, so having some rolled fondant and cookie cutters, or tools to model items, can be good to have on hand.
We decorated gingerbread houses over Christmas, and everyone gave their house a theme.
This is pretty common when grownups decorate gingerbread houses, so having some candy that’s shaped like specific things is usually good.
I wrote an article about throwing a gingerbread house decorating party for adults, so click here to get some more tips: Gingerbread House Decorating Party For Adults
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