Nobody wants to throw out their gingerbread house after the holiday season is over, but you might not want to eat it or it might not be made from the kind of gingerbread that you’d want to eat.
So what can you do with an old gingerbread house?
As a general rule, the best thing to do with an old gingerbread house would be to throw it away or compost it. The ingredients in gingerbread houses are generally not good for feeding to wild animals, so breaking it up and throwing it out for birds or animals to eat isn’t a good idea. Another option would be to preserve the house to use for future holiday seasons’ decorations.
Can you feed your gingerbread house to birds or animals?
According to the Wildlife Center Of Virginia, it’s not a good idea to feed your old gingerbread house to wild animals for many reasons. The ingredients in processed foods aren’t good for animals, and habituating wild animals to being fed by humans can cause problems. In addition, by attracting groups of wild animals, it’s possible that diseases and parasites can be spread between them, then on to domestic animals.
The Wildlife Center mentioned several points about feeding wild animals, and feeding them gingerbread specifically.
- Feeding “human” food to animals introduces ingredients that aren’t a natural part of their diets, which can cause health issues like GI upset and hypoglycemia.
- Unnatural foods that younger animals eat can cause developmental issues because they don’t get the right nutrition when they start to rely on those foods.
- Feeding wild animals will make them get used to being close to humans, which will, in turn, make them less naturally cautious of people. This increases the chances of them getting physically closer to your house, and with your pets interacting with wild animals, which can cause fights and spread diseases and parasites.
- If you put food out that attracts wild animals to a central location, it increases the chances that they’ll spread disease between them.
So these problems fall into two basic categories, which are risk of human interaction and risk of disease or illness. And there’s a bit of crossover between those two.
The Wildlife Center Of Virginia has a number of articles about why we shouldn’t get into the habit of feeding wild animals even if it seems harmless. Visit their website here: WildlifeCenter.org
Should you preserve a gingerbread house?
Preserving a gingerbread house is another option because you can then use it for decorations in future holiday seasons. A well-preserved gingerbread house will stay usable as a decor element for years as long as it’s stored correctly.
If you decide to preserve your gingerbread house it won’t be edible, and you’ll run the risk of having it start to develop mold if you don’t preserve it completely.
You should store it in a box in a closet or somewhere away from insects and pests, and you should be able to bring it out to use as a decoration later.
Can you compost your gingerbread house?
Gingerbread houses can be composted as long as the compost pile is developed so that it heats up enough to keep insects and pests out of it. This is important so that it prevents animals from getting into the pile and eating it, along with other food scraps.
If you break up the pieces of the house to make them smaller before adding them to the pile, they’ll decompose faster.
Composting is a good option if it’s available to you, but if you don’t have a compost pile, the best option to get rid of your gingerbread house is probably going to be to just throw it out.
Should you just throw the gingerbread house away?
It can be hard to do, but sometimes throwing a gingerbread house away is the best option. It may seem wasteful, but since it will decompose, it won’t live forever in the landfill, and it’s less harmful to throw it away than it is to feed it to wildlife by throwing it out into your yard.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a gingerbread house sitting somewhere in my home for months until the day I finally carried it to the garbage and threw it away.
It can be really hard to do after putting the work into them, but sometimes it’s the best thing to do!
This year it only took me three months to throw away the houses that we made during our family Christmas gingerbread house decorating activity. I’ll try to be more prompt next year.
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