Moving a gingerbread house can either be very simple or terrifying, depending on how large it is and how far it’s going. The smaller they are, the easier it is, but larger and taller houses need to be handled in a different way!
To transport a gingerbread house, you will need to take into account the size and structure of the house itself, as well as how far it needs to go, whether any pieces can be assembled on-site after delivery, and what vehicle the house will be transported in. If possible, any loose pieces that can be attached at the display site should be kept separate, as well as any fragile pieces.
I moved large wedding cakes every weekend for almost 20 years, and I’ve moved a few large gingerbread houses in that time too. The principles are the same, but unless you think things through ahead of time you could be letting yourself in for some trouble!
How big is the house and what is it built on?
To transport smaller gingerbread houses, a normal paper plate is generally enough to move it around without damage. For houses that are slightly larger, a strong cake board or metal tray is a better bet in order to support the weight of the house. For gingerbread structures that are a lot wider and taller, a wooden board that is 1/2″ thick is recommended. For extremely large structures, it might be necessary to build them on site.
Before you even start thinking about building a gingerbread house, you should think about what you’re going to build it on. It’s very important to think about the baseboard that the house will be built on so that you’ll be able to pick the gingerbread house up and move it safely.
Little houses like the ones that most people will make for fun with their kids can be assembled on paper plates that can then be used to move them around and to decorate them on.
This makes it easy for kids (or adults) to decorate the houses, and they’re small enough that they won’t break if they’re allowed to dry in advance.
After these little houses are decorated they can be wrapped with some cellophane and ribbon and given as gifts. Transporting these isn’t going to be a problem as far as damage goes because as long as the icing is dry, they’re small enough that they’re pretty sturdy.
This is the little army of houses that we made for a fundraiser when I was a teenager. Small gingerbread houses don’t need a lot of special attention, they’re pretty solid once everything dries!
I made this gingerbread chalet when I was a teenager, and I built it on a metal tray because it was larger and heavier. That was enough to support it for safe transportation, so trays are definitely an option if you want to upgrade the paper plate and the house isn’t too large.
The gingerbread hotel that I made for a charity event was built on a wooden board that was 1/2″ thick and wrapped with a ribbon to hide the edge. This house was more structurally complex, taller, and heavier. It required a thicker and sturdier board that wasn’t going to bend in transit.
Another thing to remember is that your board needs to be bigger than the gingerbread house so that you can pick it up, but smaller than the vehicle you’re going to transport it in!
I had an extra-large cake that I made once that was on a board that was about 4 feet wide, and I had to decorate the board in the garage of my house so that I could put the cake on it and then carry it out of the garage door to get it out of the house. It then had to fit into the car, so there was a lot of measuring going on.
And don’t forget that if the gingerbread house is tall, the delivery vehicle also needs to be tall. This is a time when renting a van actually makes sense if you don’t have one.
You’ll also need to think about how you’ll be moving the gingerbread house once you get to the place it’s going. Are there stairs there? Elevators? Double doors? Is there a ramp to use if you have a rolling cart? Do you really want to roll a rolling cart with your house on it up a ramp at an angle? These are all things to find out before you’re standing in front of a building with no way to get the gingerbread house inside.
How to transport a gingerbread house in your car.
To transport a gingerbread house safely, you should use non-skid carpet padding on the floor of the car under the board that the house is sitting on. In addition, putting the house in a large box that protects it from the elements and things poking into it in transit is a good idea. If this isn’t possible, the house should be placed in the center of a flat surface of the car, away from other objects.
I HIGHLY recommend using a box to transport a gingerbread house, if only to protect it from any rain, wind, or people poking at it while you’re delivering it. If your house is small enough that it can go into a box, do yourself a favor and use that method.
I did this video ten years ago showing how I assembled boxes to transport a wedding cake, and it’s got some good tips about preventing the edges of the box from smashing the thing inside it:
The part of your car that the gingerbread is carried in should ALWAYS be flat. NEVER put a large gingerbread house on a sloping seat and expect it to stay in one piece.
Put a piece of non-skid carpet mat on the flat part of the car (the rear of a station wagon or the floor of a minivan is perfect). This will keep the house from moving while the car is moving.
Drive like you’re taking your grandmother home from the hospital after she had back surgery…Gently, gently. Avoid hitting potholes if possible and go slowly over speedbumps! Above all, don’t slam on your brakes!
You don’t have to go ten miles an hour as long as the house was built in a sturdy manner, but it’s important to keep your speed under control.
Detach loose pieces that can be assembled on-site.
When transporting a gingerbread house, the safest thing to do would be to detach any loose pieces that can be assembled at the delivery site. This will allow you to pack up anything that’s fragile or that might fall off from the road vibrations, and will prevent damage. Take a repair kit with you that includes royal icing, extra pieces of candy, and any other tools that you may need to fix damage.
You might also want to make extras of any fragile pieces to bring with you in case something needs to be replaced. It’s better to spend a little time to have the extras than it is to have something break that you can’t fix!
Make sure that you give yourself enough time on-site to assemble anything that needs to be assembled. If you’re under a time schedule for your delivery, make sure that you have time to stay on-site setting things up if needed.
When I delivered wedding cakes, I generally took the cakes in sections that were stacked no more than three tiers high. Anything taller than that was transported with separate tiers, and I assembled everything at the reception site.
This allowed me to prevent the cakes from sliding and moving in transit, and it only took a few extra minutes at the site to finish setting things up.
When I delivered gingerbread houses I followed the same procedures, and anything that could have been broken in transit was kept aside and attached at the venue. It’s just insurance that things won’t be broken and that your house looks the way that you want it to.
Make sure to plan ahead, put the gingerbread house on the right-sized board, take your time, and it won’t be hard to transport a larger house. Nerve-wracking, maybe, but it will work out as long as you have that repair kit and extra pieces with you!
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