Christmas Candy for Gingerbread Houses

by Jeanne Benedict on November 21, 2010

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Enjoy this virtual trip through a Willy Wonka candy land as you discover the many sweet ways that you can decorate your gingerbread house. The following is a list of candies, nut, cereals, cookies, and more, and how they are best used as candy for gingerbread houses. Also, I’ve noted any problems that may arise from using certain candies, which I’ve discovered through years of experimenting. Your kids will feel like Hansel and Gretl with all the possibilities that Christmas candy and everyday novelty candy can inspire for gingerbread house decorating!

Almond Paste – Tint with food coloring and form into mini fruits on trees, and vegetables and flowers in the garden.

Ande’s Mints – Roof shingles, swing seats, foot path, floor planks, window shutters, storm cellar doors, flower boxes, wagons, diving board. Problems: see Chocolate.

Balls, edible, mini-colored – Christmas ball ornaments, décor around doorways, accent stones in chimneys, footpaths, holly berries on wreaths and hedges, flower centers, toy bag fillers, buttons. Problems: Candy coating may bleed into the sugar glue at first. When it dries, touch it up with the white sugar glue and it should be fine.

Bread Sticks – Logs, posts for porch roof, tree trunks, fences, corner gap fillers. Problems: Be careful when using bread sticks for posts that actually need to support a porch roof, as the will crumble easily if the roof is heavily decorated or the house is knocked or moved around often.

Bubblegum Tape – Accent bows and ribbons atop presents, roofs, or chimneys, ruffle for roof crest, ruffle long strips or cut for shingles, long strips for aluminum house siding, scallop edge of long strips for Victorian house siding, cut for almost anything like clothes, scarves, shirts, hair, fringe, stars, flowers, scallop edge and roll into a rose, Christmas tree garland, conveyor belts. Notes: Bubble gum tape can be found in almost any supermarket. It is a 6’ long roll of pink or purple bubble gum and comes in a small, plastic round container.

Butterfinger – Crush for rustic roofing, sawdust, barnyard filler, sliced for foothpath or brick wall accents.

Candy Bar - Front doors, shutters, floor planks, slides, seasaws, benches, seats, wagons, horse trough, diving board. Problems: see Chocolate.

Candy Canes – Support posts for porch roofs and banisters, corner gap fillers, lamp posts, swing set and playground posts, crush for roofing, foot paths, Christmas tree decor, and general accents, melt for milky glass window panes, stick out of chimney. Notes: Look for gourmet candy canes in bright blues and yellows. You may have to break off the candy cane hooks for some items or look for Penny Candy sticks.

Candy Corns – Terra cotta roof shingles, house shingles, around doorways, roof crest, fences, toy piles, Christmas tree decor.

Caramel Cubes – Slice for roof shingles, around doorways, slice and scallop for house shingles, small brick walls. Problems: Caramel cubes are gooey and will squish if you pile too many on top of each other as in stacked bricks for a chimney.

Cheerios – Tiny wheels, around doorways, scalloped eyelet roof edges, post finials and accents. Notes: Many companies color their cereal red and green during the holiday season, which may provide you with other decorating ideas.

Chocolate – Melted dark and white chocolate drizzled on a roof, chocolate chips for roofing or accents, Christmas tree decor, post finials, tiny hats.  Problems: The fat solids in chocolate make it very greasy and it takes hours to dry when applied with a sugar glue. This is an especially irritating problem when you want a great shingled roof or house look, as with Ande’s mints, but, the bottom layer keeps sliding off the roof by the time you get 3 or 4 layers up.  You just have to be patient and sugar glue a few layered rows across the roof on both sides, let it fully dry for 3 hours  or how ever long it takes and decorate elsewhere. You may have to repeat this process 4 or 5 times so be patient or use another roof material.

Cinnamon Sticks - Wood piles, firewood, sticks, railings, sugar glue together for rustic furniture and items like chairs, tables, baskets, benches, wagons, mail box posts, ladders, ice stake blades, chop up for fragrant wood chips in yard or on a roof. Problems: These are pricey so, if you are on a budget, substitute pretzel sticks.

Cloves - Pinecones, fruit stems, fragrant wood chips in a yard or on a rustic roof.

Coconut – Snow, hair, color for grass, sculpted hedges, topiaries, and hay.

Corn Flakes – Flaky roof, dried leaves. Notes: Many companies color their cereal red and green during the holiday season, which may provide you with other decorating ideas.

Dried Fruit – Cut out shapes for fruit in trees, vegetables in gardens or flowers.

Food Coloring – Mix with a little water and paint on cookie windows for stained glass or add subtle color to cookie cut-outs, use to color Sugar Glue or icing. Problems: Where the basic food coloring, water and powdered sugar icing maybe be good for sugar cookies, after about 1 week on a gingerbread house it may begin to separate into a horrific looking science experiment. I have no idea why this happens, but it does on walls, iced cookie Christmas trees, just about everything.  It could be the lack of refrigeration or even a matter of sifting the powdered sugar more thoroughly. Keep it in mind if you plan on keeping your house around for more than a couple of weeks.   

Gingerbread Cookies – Cut out for people, cut out rounds for roofing and house shingles, cut out hearts, stars, diamonds for windows, cut out rectangles for benches, doors, swings, cut out literal shapes like trees, cars, and boats. Notes: If you are on a budget, cut out gingerbread cookies decorated with colored sugar is a good alternative. If you want mini gingerbread people and can’t find the right cookie cutter, Sunshine Cookies have great mini gingerbread people. They look like they are running or playing and one arm is raised and looks like it is holding something or is saying “Hi!” 

Good & Plenty – Spokes on wheels, around doorways, magic wands, flower petals, toy pile, sticking out of the chimney, corner gap filler. Notes: I usually cut Good & Plenty in half lengthwise because a flat sticky surface adheres better than a rounded, candy coated surface. Cut gently so you don’t crack the outer candy coating that is going to be showing.

Gum Sticks – Venetian blinds, cut for roof shingles, clothes, spearmint for palm fronds and leaves.

Gum Drops – Roofing, corner gap fillers, slice for a checkered pattern on walls, furniture, blankets, windows,  foot paths, glass panes in a lantern or porch light, portholes on ships, hats, clothes, slice and cut edges for flowers and stars, slice off the round top for door knobs, Christmas tree balls, post finial and accents.

Gummy Bears & Worms – Toys.

Gummy Diamonds – Footpath, checkered roofing or house siding, place together in a larger diamond for stained glass window, flatten yellow diamond and cut a star for the Christmas tree top.

Gummy Rings – Wreaths on doors and posts, wheels, windows, scallop edge for flowers.

Hershey’s Kiss – Roofing, around doorways, corner gap fillers, hats, roof crest, tops on towers and spires, large post finials. Problems: see Chocolate.

Hard Candy, whole - Roofing, footpaths, on end for roof crests, corner gap fillers, stool seats, toy piles, around doorways, sticking out of chimney, steering wheels, melted for window panes, awnings or elaborate accents. Crushed: Roofing, footpaths, stucco house siding, on cut-out cookies in place of colored sugar for more texture, blue for water in ocean or pool, melted for window panes. Note: Hard candy may bleed into the sugar glue at first. When it dries, touch it up with the white sugar glue and it should be fine.

Hard Candy, melted – Melt hard candy to create translucent windows, or even sculpt awnings.  Place the hard candies spaced @ 1”-2” apart on a piece of aluminum foil sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.  Put the foil in the oven and cook at 350 checking every minute for the melted stage.  You want the candies to be softened so you can form them into what you want, not completely melted so they turn to syrup.  When they have melted to where the are softened, use a knife or your fingers, if you can stand the heat, and flatten the individual candies for window panes or stretch them and stick them together at the sides to form striped awnings or small roofs.  But work fast, because once out of the oven they harden almost immediately.  You may reheat to soften a few times after that the candy is too cooked. Also, hard candy stretched to thin and placed as a window awning or gazebo roof needs to be heavily supported by posts as it may droop in a few days.

Icing – I recommend thinning out the sugar glue or gingerbread icing with water and adding food coloring for tinted icing on cookie cut-outs or just about any cookie surface on the house or yard. Store bought icing doesn’t seem to look right on gingerbread houses. Problems: see Food Coloring.

Jaw Breakers - Toy balls, crush for stones accents in chimneys, walls, footpaths.

Jelly Beans, mini Jelly Bellys – Cobblestone for footpaths, walls, corner gap fillers, around doorways, accents on chimneys, lights inside lanterns, toy pile and sliced in half for flower petals, buttons, hats even teeth. Problems: The candy coating on jellybeans may bleed into the sugar glue at first. When it dries, touch it up with the white sugar glue and it should be fine. Cut these gently so you don’t crack the outer candy coating that is going to be showing.

Jelly Rings – Wreaths on doors and posts, wheels, windows.

Jolly Rancher Sticks – slides, bench seats, diving board, pool slide, melted for window glass panes, crush for an iridescent accent.

Licorice Twizzlers, green - creeping vines, leaves, flower stems, greenery.

Licorice Twizzlers, red & black – sugar glue to house walls as barn siding, window awnings, window boxes, or anything jutting out from the house, ropes, fences, accent trim, slice for tile roofing, cut between ridges for lanterns and wall lights, cut for clothes, ice stake blades, snow shoes and props.

Licorice Whips, vines – Ropes, swings, horse reigns, telephone lines, hanging flower baskets.

Lifesavers – Portholes, tiny wheels, around doorways, scalloped eyelet roof edges, post finials, toy bag fillers.

Lollipops, Big Spiral- Windows, merry-go-round, center of a paddle or water wheel, car wheels, broken pieces for colorful bench or stool legs, or accents in toy piles, footpaths, chimneys. Problems: Spiral Lollipops are heavy and take a full day or two to dry on the side of a house. Use a piece of cardboard to prop up the lollipop and keep it in place as it dries.

M Ms -  Roofing, eave accents, house siding, corner gap fillers, door knobs, foothpaths, around doorways, accent stones in chimneys, post finials, Christmas balls, toy bag fillers, holly berries on wreaths, and hedges, flower centers, buttons, hats, tiny wheels.  Problems: The candy coating on M&M’s will bleed into the sugar glue at first. When it dries, touch it up with the white sugar glue.

Marshmallows – Snowmen, snow mounds, colored miniatures for roofing and accents. Note: see Rice Krispies.

Marzipan -Tint with food coloring and form into mini fruits on trees, and vegetables and flowers in the garden.

 Meringue, Baked – Domed tops on spires and towers.

 Mr. Goodbar - Rough road, front doors, shutters, floor planks, slides, seesaws, benches, seats, wagons, horse trough, broken pieces for exposed rock and accents on walls. Problems: see Chocolate.

Necco Wafers – Roofing, shingles, footpath, portholes on ships.

Nestles’ Crunch Bar - Rough road, front doors, floor planks, shutters, slides, seesaws, benches, seats, wagons, horse trough, broken pieces for exposed rock and accents on walls. Problems: see Chocolate.

Non-Pariels - Roofing, shingles, roof crest, around doorways, footpath, corner gap fillers. Problems: see Chocolate.

Nougat Candy Cubes - Slice for roof shingles, around doorways, slice and scallop for house shingles, small brick walls. Problems: Nougat Candy Cubes are gooey and will squish if you pile too many on top of each other as in stacked bricks for a chimney.

Novelty Candy – Represents exactly what it is like gummy sharks, or sea shells.

Nuts –  Sliced almonds for roofing, mixed whole nuts for accent stones on chimneys, house siding, brick walls, exposed rock on castle walls or old villas, footpaths, rocks, crush nuts for roofing, footpaths, barn yard filler. 

Oats - Rustic roofing, sawdust, barn yard filler.

Oreo Cookies – Wheels, center of a paddle wheel or merry-go-round, stool, seat, crush for dirt.

Penny Candy Sticks - Support posts for porch roofs and banisters, corner gap fillers, lamp posts, swing set and playground posts, crush for roofs, foot paths, Christmas tree decor, and general accents, melt for milky glass window panes, stick out of chimney.

Pretzel Sticks - Wood piles, firewood, sticks, railings, sugar glue together for rustic furniture and items like chairs, tables, baskets, benches, wagons, barrels, mail box posts, ladders, ice stake blades. Problems: Be careful when using pretzel sticks for posts or fences that actually need to support something, as they may break easily if they are knocked or if the house is moved too often. Sugar glue them together and double them whenever possible.

Pretzel, Shaped – Windows, roofing, upside down in a row for a fence or along the eave of a roof for a decorative edge, accents, toy bag filler.

Red Hots – Holly berries on wreaths and hedges, eave accents, corner gap fillers, foothpaths, around doorways, accent stones in chimneys, post finials, Christmas balls, toy bag fillers, flower centers, buttons, hats, tiny wheels. Problems: The candy coating may bleed into the sugar glue at first. When it dries, touch it up with the white sugar glue.

 Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups – Stools, hollow out for buckets, bowls and flower pots.

 Ribbon Candy – Ornate roofing, corner gap fillers, trim on eaves, roofcrests, and chimney tops, banisters. Problems: Ribbon candy may  bleed into the sugar glue at first. When it dries, touch it up with the white sugar glue and it should be fine.

Rice Krispies - Roofing, barn yard filler, add marshmallow for a glazed pebble stone footpath, house siding, small brick wall or rock clusters. Homemade Rice Krispie Treats can be molded into Christmas trees and a variety of other shapes and strutures.

Rock Candy - Wave crests, crystal quartz rock gardens.

Sesame Honey Rectangular Cubes - Sugar glue and stack for chimneys, stairs, door stoops, brick walls, castle turrets, castle towers, foundations around free standing lamps posts, around doorways, corner gap fillers, bench and swing seats, window boxes, horse troughs, crush as a stone accent on chimneys, walls, roofs, footpaths.

Shredded Wheat - Rustic roofing, sawdust, barn yard filler, burlap sacks.

Silver Shots – Christmas balls, roofing, accents.

Skittles - Roofing, eave accents, house siding, corner gap fillers, doorknobs, footpaths, around doorways, accent stones in chimneys, post finials, Christmas balls, toy bag fillers, holly berries on wreaths, and hedges, flower centers, buttons, hats, tiny wheels. Problems: The candy coating on may bleed into the sugar glue at first. When it dries, touch it up with the white sugar glue.

Snickers – Sliced for footpath, brick siding, around doorway, crumbled for chimney stone accents.

Spiral Sticks – Fancy spires on castles, ornate houses, or churches,  posts, corner gap fillers, play-ground sets. Notes: These look like spiral lollipops but are sticks. Problems: Spiral sticks are heavy and require a lot of support when freestanding on sugar glued to the house.

Sprinkles – Roofing, footpaths, accents.

Star Burst – Slice for roof shingles, checked wall pattern, around doorways, foot path, slice and scallop for house shingles, small brick walls. Problems: Star Burst are gooey and will squish if you pile too many on top of each other as in stacked bricks for a chimney.

Sugar, Brown – Sand, foot path, caramelize and pour in sheets for window panes.

Sugar, Colored – Roofing, footpaths, house siding, on cut-out cookies, blue for water in ocean or pool, Christmas tree sparkles.  Notes: Make your own by adding a few drops of food coloring to granulated sugar and mix well. Problems: Colored sugar will bleed when sprinkled on the sugar glue.

Sugar, Granulated - Use to make colored sugar by adding food coloring and for hardened sugar fondants for fountains, birdbaths, and props.

Sugar, Powdered – House sugar glue, and sugar clay for hardened sugar fondants used in cut detailed eyelet eaves, banisters, picket fences, lattices, windows, fancy grates, shape for flags and ship sails, dust over doily or lace pattern for curtains in cookie cut-out windows.

Sugar Cubes – Sugar glue and stack for chimneys, stairs, door stoops, brick walls, castle turrets, castle towers, foundations around free standing lamps posts, around doorways, corner gap fillers.

Sugar in the Raw – Sand, textured amber windows, accents on roofs, footpaths.

Taffy – Use sticks for slides, tables, diving boards, flatten marbleized taffy for windows, doors, flags, cut  shapes for accents. Problems: Strips of taffy tend to droop after a few days. For a slide, you need to support the taffy with varying lengths of candy cane posts underneath.

Tootsie Rolls - Logs, fenceposts, banisters, cannons, slice for roof shingles, house shingles, schooner ship shingles, footpaths.

Twix - Wood piles, firewood, logs, railings, posts, sugar glue together for rustic furniture and items like chairs, tables, benches, wagons, chop up for accents on walls, chimney, footpath and roofs. Problems: see Chocolate.

Read on for More Gingerbread House Ideas and Tips:

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