Decoration tips

The fun part of making a gingerbread house is the decoration!
If you have made gingerbread houses before you have no doubt an opinion about whether they should be decorated before or after assembly. Try both and see what you prefer. I prefer to do it before assembly, as it gives me greater freedom when decorating. It is rather difficult to ‘paint’ with small sweets on an upright wall, and far easier when the wall is horizontal on a table.

Decorations are only limited by your imagination. Try to choose sweets that are small in size, as it will stick better to the house. You can make a theme of different coloured sweets of same type, like wine gum, or you can go for a particular colour of lots of different sweets. Chocolate and biscuits are also great so is any type of cake decoration. Use your imagination, but try to have some sort of plan in mind so you don’t run out of a particular colour or type of sweet.

Make icing of 1 egg white and 5 drops of lemon and then stir in enough icing sugar to make a firm but smooth paste. You can buy white and coloured icing in a tube for easy applying and you can also buy cake decoration in different colours.

For the icing decoration, use a pastry bag with various decorating tips or a knife. Or, for easy disposable bag, fill a small plastic bag with icing, white or coloured with food colouring, cut a tiny hole with a pair of scissors in one end, or simply use readymade icing in tubes. You can easily fill in gaps and smooth construction errors with icing and sweets. To apply sweets, dab a small amount of icing to the underside of the sweet and hold in place until set. For a line of small sweets, like small silver pearls, make a line of icing sugar, pour the pearls over and press down carefully. Shake off any excess pearls.

If you want the walls covered in icing, you may need to thin the icing with a few drops of water and then spread gently on the sides before assembling. Leave to dry completely before you continue decorating. Toothpicks work well for helping correct errors, keep some handy. Wipe off smudges or drips with a clean, slightly damp paper towel. Don’t forget to decorate around the house too! White cotton wool looks great as snow and with a few trees made of marzipan or icing the scene is complete.