Gingerbread houses are fun to make, but they can get expensive. The priciest part by far is the cost of the candy, but there are ways to cut your costs and still make a cute house.
There are a few ways to make a cheap gingerbread house. These include planning ahead to buy the components on sale, using less candy in the design, baking the pieces yourself if you have the ingredients on hand already, and using materials other than real gingerbread to make the houses.
You can also buy kits on clearance during the week leading up to Christmas, or immediately after.
Kits that include pre-baked gingerbread can be stored to use the following year because they’re intended to have a long shelf life, and they’re pre-wrapped for long-term storage.
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Plan ahead to make a cheap gingerbread house.
If you can plan ahead to buy the gingerbread house components on sale, you can purchase the kits on sale during the week before and after Christmas. Candy can also be bought on sale throughout the year after various holidays at deep discounts.
Stocking up on a few types as you see them on sale will give you enough candy to decorate multiple houses at a lower cost.
After Christmas, a lot of red and green candy goes on sale, and most of it would be fine to save for a year until the time that you need it to make your next house.
M&Ms, Hershey kisses that are wrapped in colored foil, and Peeps that are shaped like trees can be stored in a dry area at room temperature for long periods of time without changes in appearance.
You can also check for sales at the craft store in the cake decorating section to get deep discounts on hard sugar decorations that can be stored for long periods of time.
I got some Halloween candy on sale for 70% off at Michael’s that I’m going to use to make a Halloween gingerbread house. Keep your eyes open and pounce when you see a discount like that!
If you want to get the gingerbread house kits, you’ll need to look for those pretty deliberately. They tend to go on sale in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and because it’s not too late to make the houses, people snatch those up.
The ones that are sold at craft stores usually go to 50% off before Christmas, and once that happens they sell out. If you see them at that price, grab them, because they won’t last.
Use less candy in the design to save money.
To save money on your house you can also limit the amount of candy that you use overall. By piping designs onto the house instead of decorating with candy, you can reduce the cost a lot. Piping designs takes more skill, but the cost of making royal icing is a lot lower than using candy.
You can also use things like pretzels and cereal to decorate the roof and walls of a gingerbread house.
Those are a lot less expensive than candy, and they can cover large areas of the surface without breaking the bank.
Another option is to use things like marshmallows that can cover a large amount of space without costing a lot.
Sunflower seeds can be used for stone walls or sidewalk, colored coconut can be used for grass or on the roof of a house, etc.
There are a lot of things that cost less than candy that people use to decorate houses.
If you’re willing to think outside the box a little you’ll probably be able to come up with a lot of lower-cost options to make your decorating cheaper.
Bake your own gingerbread house to save money.
Baking your own gingerbread house instead of buying a kit can save money if you already have the ingredients on hand. If you have to buy anything, though, it might be cheaper to buy a kit and some extra candy to decorate it. Using a construction-grade gingerbread recipe can also be cheaper than regular gingerbread.
Construction gingerbread has fewer types of ingredients in it, so it can be less expensive to make.
My recipe has no eggs or butter, and the spices are optional, so it’s a lot cheaper to make.
Keep in mind that construction gingerbread isn’t meant to be eaten, but if you’re looking for cheaper recipes, it’s a good choice.
For my construction gingerbread recipe, click here: Sturdy gingerbread house dough recipe.
Use a non-gingerbread alternative for your house.
If you don’t mind your gingerbread house not being real gingerbread, you can use a different material to build them. Graham crackers are a popular alternative to make small houses, and you can also use inedible materials like paper and cardboard. Both of these options are less expensive than using real gingerbread, so you’ll save some money.
Graham crackers can be used to make little houses, or you can glue multiple sections of them together to make larger structures.
Use double thicknesses glued together with royal icing to make them stronger.
A box of graham crackers is a lot less expensive than a gingerbread kit, and takes way less time than making the house yourself.
You can cover them with candy or icing and nobody will even know that it’s not gingerbread.
Another cheaper option that you can keep for home decor is a cardboard or paper gingerbread house.
The cost for that could be zero if you use materials that you have around your house, and when you don’t need it anymore you can recycle it!
I know that it won’t be edible, but if you have really young kids, making a paper gingerbread house and letting them decorate it with random stickers can be a lot easier than decorating a real one.
You can also use these to decorate around your house and send them to grandparents for a Christmas card.
Making a gingerbread house doesn’t have to be super expensive if you’re careful and creative.
Shop ahead, use alternatives to a lot of candy, and you’ll be able to make a cute house without spending a lot.
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