Cardboard Gingerbread House

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While browsing Facebook one evening, I came across this adorable post by Crafts by Amanda for adult created gingerbread houses.  I thought it was such a cute idea, but I wanted to adapt it for my kids.  I basically used the directions to make the “canvas” and then let the kids loose to add their own decorations.  This project does require some prep work, but the boys had so much fun decorating that is was totally worth it!

To Create the “Canvas” for the Gingerbread House:

  1.  Rinse and dry empty juice or milk cartons.
  2. Open the container and cut the bottom triangles off both sides.

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3.  Hot glue the sides together to form the arch of the roof.  Secure with tape to ensure it bonds.  Also cut the plastic pour spout out if your carton contains one.  The hole will later be covered.

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4.  Coat the carton with a thin layer of Mod Podge using a foam brush and cover with paper napkins or tissue paper.  After it has dried, repeat with another layer. (I was a little ansy and didn’t wait until it was completely dry before I added my second layer).  I am not very experienced with Mod Podge so I used the only kind I had on hand.  I would think Elmer’s Glue would also work.  It would  probably just not spread as easily.

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5.  Once it has dried completely, paint the paper covered juice cartons with brown paint.  We were out of our brown craft paint, so I actually used leftover brown paint from our living room walls.  It worked very well and may have even covered better than craft paint.  My napkins started to rip when I was painting so I dabbed in some spots instead of using a brush stroke.  It may have been my lack of patience in letting everything dry!

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6.  Cut a roof for your house using a thin piece of cardboard.  I used cereal boxes, but any type of posterboard would work.  I cut the cardboard slightly larger than the width of the carton for the overhang.  I lightly sanded the glossy print to help paint adhere to it better.  Hot glue the roof to the house.  Paint the roofs white.  Again, I used white house paint because it was handy.  I put the paint on thick to really cover the print.  I didn’t mind if the paint was blotchy because it was going to mimic snow and most of it would be covered with decorations.

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The gingerbread house is now formed.  All that’s left is to provide the kids with supplies to decorate their houses.  I didn’t buy anything special for this project.  We just used a variety of supplies we had on hand (buttons, jewels, pom poms, foam shapes, felt, etc).  I picked up this container at a thrift store a few years ago and love using it to sort supplies during craft projects.

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I thought about showing the boys images of gingerbread houses on my iPad before I set them loose, but decided to just left them work.  I thought all of the sparkly items would attract both of the boys, but Jake (5) went straight to the foam.  I think he really likes the feel of cutting through the foam.  I actually had to coax him to add the colorful jewels because he wanted to just keep adding foam.

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I was originally going to use Tacky glue because I thought it would hold the thicker decorations better, but we ran out.  (I am hoping to find some in my Christmas stocking)!  The Elmer’s glue worked better than I expected.  The formula is now supposed to be thicker which also makes it harder to squeeze.  Nathan (2.5) did very well squeezing the glue without any assistance though.

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Here are our finished gingerbread houses.  All of the sides are very unique and you can tell which sides were completed first!  We ended up working on these houses over 2 days to allow for dry time and stamina!  Overall, I think they did an awesome job!

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We decided to place them next to our Christmas village.  I am sure they will be a permanent display for years to come.  We may need to add extra houses throughout the years.  It would be fun to see how the houses developed as they matured.

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