Since making gingerbread houses is a holiday activity that you can do with kids, it might be nice to be able to mail one to a Grandparent or another relative as a gift.
The problem is that gingerbread houses can be fragile, but if you plan carefully, you should be able to mail a gingerbread house with little to no damage.
Plan the house with shipping in mind.
Before you start making the house, plan to make it a little sturdier than normal so that it won’t fall apart as easily. You can make the pieces a little thicker than normal if you’re baking the pieces yourself, and make sure that the sections are baked completely dry.
The more moisture there is in the baked dough, the more likely that the walls or roof will crumble from being too soft.
Using a professional gingerbread recipe (click to get the one that I use here) is also a good idea, since it’s usually harder than one that’s meant to be eaten.
You can also plan to build the house around a small box so that the box provides support and can help the walls to stay intact if they develop a crack.
You obviously can’t do that if you have to use only edible pieces in your house, but for giving them as a gift there’s no reason you can’t provide internal supports.
You should also keep the house on the smaller side, since that will make it easier to pack and ship.
The larger the structure, the more likely it is that a section of it will crack in transit, unless it has a backing piece to give it support.
Finally, avoid designs that have pieces that stick out from the house itself, and keep the main house relatively square.
The fewer pieces that stick out from the main part of the house, the less chance there will be of those pieces breaking off when the house is shipped.
Make sure that the house is completely dry before shipping.
Using sturdy gingerbread is a good first step, but you’ll also need to make sure that the house is glued together and is totally dry before you try to mail it.
You might want to use hot glue to attach the pieces together instead of royal icing, since that will set up completely right away, and it’s not sensitive to humidity. (Click here to read about that in this article about hot gluing a gingerbread house together.)
You’ll also want to make sure that the candy you decorate the house with isn’t delicate or meltable, so avoid things like chocolate and cotton candy.
Decorate your house with sturdy decorations.
When you decorate the house that you’re going to be mailing, avoid things that will break off or be crushed in the package.
Glue the decorations on with hot glue or royal icing that’s allowed to dry completely so that the candy is really attached well to the pieces,
Try to keep the decorations flat and don’t stick anything out from the surface of the house.
This little house would be a good candidate to mail, since the decorations are all flat against the surface and there isn’t anything sticking up. (You can get the template for this gingerbread house by clicking here)
The only thing I’d change before shipping this one would be the chocolate bar door, since that can melt if the package is put somewhere hot.
For an article about the best candy to use for gingerbread houses, click here.
Pack the gingerbread house the right way to ship it.
The best way to ship things that are really fragile is to wrap them in layers of bubble wrap, then put them in a box that holds them without letting them move too much.
This can involve putting the wrapped package in the box and then adding more packing material around it to keep it from shifting around, or making the box the same size as the wrapped item.
The important thing is to make sure that the house isn’t going to move around inside the box itself.
For a gingerbread house, you might want to wrap it in a layer of plastic wrap before the bubble wrap so that the candy has a layer of protection around it.
I used to ship a lot of gumpaste flowers and fondant cake decorations, which were very fragile.
The key to getting things to arrive in one piece was to make sure that there was no movement inside the box, and the second part was to put the inner box in a larger box!
After packing the small box so that the house isn’t moving in it, put that smaller box inside a larger box that has an inch or two on either side to provide more protection.
That way, if the box gets dented or smashed, the outer box will take the damage, and the inner box will probably avoid being damaged.
Use packing peanuts, popcorn (it’s biodegradable), or crumpled butcher paper to pack the inner box into the larger one so that there’s a layer of protection all the way around the inside box.
Using the two-box system will prevent damage most of the time, unless the shipping service totally smashes it.
Use fast shipping.
The last thing to do for successful gingerbread house travel is to choose a faster shipping option.
If you’re in the US and you have to choose between priority and ground shipping, choose priority.
It will get the package there faster, which will give it less time in transit, which means it has less time to be tossed around.
Faster shipping is a better option and will probably reduce the risk of damage, which can happen at any point in the shipping process.
But if you do decide to ship a gingerbread house and you take precautions, chances are it will stay in one piece long enough to get to its destination.
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