These mini no-bake graham cracker cottages are easy to assemble and topple-proof for toddler fingers.

By Anna Helm Baxter
November 09, 2020
decorated gingerbread houses
Credit: Jen Causey

Slay the gingerbread-house holiday tradition by going no-bake this year! Get started with a house made from graham crackers, then get your real holiday game on by expanding your display into an adorable village and a Willy Wonka–esque array of sweets.

How to Build a Graham Cracker House

What You'll Need:

  • Graham crackers (we used Honey Maid)
  • Small serrated knife
  • Small food-safe paintbrush or butter knife
  • White chocolate, melted Royal icing, for gluing on decorations
  • Cake board or cardboard wrapped in foil
  • Finely shredded coconut candy, cereal, and cookies, for decorating

How to Make It:

Start with 4 whole graham crackers (4 sections in each):

  • For the side panels, cut 1 graham cracker in half.
  • For the front and back panels, cut the corners off the short end of 2 graham crackers in a triangle shape to create a peak.
  • For the roof, cut 1 graham cracker in half.

Using a paintbrush or a knife, spread melted white chocolate on outer edges of front and back panels, then attach side panels. Refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes. Arrange roof panels so that they meet at the top, using chocolate as glue (they can extend over the house). Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before decorating.

For the royal icing: Combine confectioners’ sugar, water, and meringue powder (follow package instructions). Transfer 1/2 cup icing to a resealable plastic bag, pushing icing toward one side. Twist the remaining part of bag and tie with a rubber band. Snip off a small corner to pipe icing.

decorated gingerbread houses
Credit: Jen Causey

How to Create a Village

Gather up an assortment of sweets, then follow our simple instructions that pair up with our numbered Christmas village above to make everything from fun-sized trees to chimneys.

What You'll Need:

  • Apple Jacks Frosted
  • Mini-Wheats
  • gumdrops (small and large)
  • gummies
  • hard-candy stars
  • licorice laces
  • M&M’s (mini and regular)
  • Nerds Nestlé Sno-Caps
  • Pepperidge Farm Milano and Pirouette cookies
  • peppermints
  • pretzels (sticks and waffles)
  • Rice Krispies Treats
  • Smarties
  • sour belts
  • sprinkles
  • wafer cookies
  • Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dogs

How to Decorate the Roof

  • Line up alternating flavors of sour belts (1; see above) for a snazzy striped alpine A-frame.
  • Try Frosted Mini-Wheats and Sno-Caps (2) as the snowy backdrop for Apple Jacks wreaths and string lights made from licorice laces and halved M&M’s.
  • Overlap waffle pretzels, then drip royal icing along the “shingles” (3).
  • Arrange halved gumdrops (4) cut side down and top with a Pirouette cookie.

How to Build a Chimney

  • Prop up a Pirouette cookie (5).
  • Frost a Rice Krispies Treat (6) and coat it in chocolate sprinkles.

How to Design a Door

  • Slice a rounded edge off a Milano cookie (7) and add a gumdrop knob.
  • Pair up two wafer halves—add handles made of M&M’s (8).
  • For a rustic “wood” door, opt for a graham cracker (9).
  • Use scissors to cut sour belts (10) into an arched entry.

How to Add a Mascot

  • Dress up a Walkers Shortbread Scottie Dog (11) in a gumdrop hat and a sour-belt scarf.

How to Make a House Path

  • Smarties (12) make a good “stone” walkway.
  • For a gravel effect, spread royal icing on the base, then sprinkle with Nerds (13).
  • Lay down a waffle-pretzel (14) welcome mat.
  • Sour belts plus gumdrops (15) equals a rainbow front lane.

How to Set Up a Tree

  • Cover an ice-cream cone (16) in royal icing and green sprinkles, then top with a candy star.

Our Best Gingerbread Building Tips to Know

  • Yes, you can break the graham crackers by hand to the proper size. But to avoid a crumbly mess, cut the squares along score marks using a small serrated knife in a sawing motion.
  • Melted white chocolate offers the easiest way to build walls and roofs that actually stick together. Once the chocolate is melted, let it cool 5 to 10 minutes before using so it’s nice and tacky. Between steps, refrigerate houses to firm them up stat.
  • Coat bottom edges of houses with melted white chocolate and stick them to a cake board or piece of cardboard wrapped in foil.
  • For a blanket of freshly fallen snow, sprinkle the cake board with finely shredded coconut. And to do it up, add drips of icing to chimneys, windows, and roofs for a wintry effect.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's December 2020 issue as “Insta-Graham Cutness!.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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