Gingerbread houses, gingerbread men and gingerbread trees! I love this time of year. Let your kids make this gingerbread tree and give it as a gift to someone they love. Easy to assemble, quick to put together – this is a great kids activity at Christmas time.
If homespun holiday fun is your thing, be sure to sign up to learn about the release of our newest book, Homestead Holidays! With history, tutorials, crafts, recipes and a year’s worth of festive fun, there’s bound to be something here for you! Plus, when you sign up, you get to be the first to get coupons and special deals.
Last Minute Christmas Gift
Tell me if you’ve ever heard this one: “Mommy, Mommy, I need a Christmas present for my teacher and tomorrow’s the last day before vacation!”
Or another good one, “Hey, Dad, I need to bring something Christmasy for Pack Meeting tonight and it needs to rock!”
Oh, oh, my favorite, “Sweetie, I drew the office manager’s name in our gift drawing at work and it’s tomorrow- any ideas?”
Gingerbread Christmas Tree to the Rescue
“How did I become activities director?!,” I sometimes want to shout.
Look, ya’ll, I’m just trying to shower and brush my teeth every day. I’d love to help you out with really crafty, fabo ideas but you’ll need to do a mom swap for that. I’m a bare essentials kinda gal.
Besides, we do as much of our Christmas as we can homemade. So, I’m always a bit overwhelmed by it all by around, (where are we?), six days before Christmas.
If you need more Christmas inspiration, be sure to download our e-book, The 12 Days of Christmas! With crafts, recipes, activity and service suggestions, and even holiday templates, this book is sure to help make your holiday merry and bright. From all of us at Homestead Lady, Merry Christmas!
Every year, the first week of December we host an annual Gingerbread House Making Party. We invite friends over with their assembled gingerbread houses and some bags of candy to share. I make the frosting glue and we all share our candy decorations around and have a blast.
Some years our house is more of a shack (like made from graham crackers and it’s not pretty). Other years we make a soft gingerbread in our gingerbread house mold. Most years, though, my engineering husband builds really nice, sturdy houses that the kids decorate to their hearts content.
Natural Gingerbread Trees and More
Time was we used commercial powdered sugar and conventional candy. These days we powder our own organic cane sugar and buy our candies from the Natural Candy Store. Click below to visit them:
Many of our gingerbread houses and gingerbread trees are also decorated with hazelnuts, pistachios and dried apples. We even use homemade raisins. To learn how to make yours, click here.
As the mom, I don’t have much to do with these gingerbread house endeavors except to facilitate them. It’s not in my nature to measure well, I’m not precise and I’m not too concerned if my gingerbread house leans a bit.
I’d much rather make a gingerbread tree if I need something fun for a Christmas gift, treat or decoration.
I need to warn you type precise-instruction-type people out there. this post will most likely irritate you. I like this project because I can wing it, bang it out fast because I don’t have to measure much and I can slap it together quickly. Feel free to make a plan, get out your ruler and be exact (and I think that’s awesome and I’m glad you’re in the world), but that just ain’t my style.
Make a Gingerbread Tree
Getting Started with Dough and Shapes
- First, find a gingerbread recipe that you like. It needs to be a gingerbread that will harden. If you like to eat it (and I do) try this recipe. If you really aren’t interested in eating it yourself, but want a nice gingerbread for your backyard chickens, this one will do.
- Plan to make your dough a good six hours before you need to assemble the tree because it needs to fully cool.
- Follow all instructions for making the dough, chill and then roll out to about 1/4″ thickness in a rectangular shape.
- Visualize two rectangles within the one you’ve just rolled out, the length of which should reflect however tall you want your tree to be.
- Cut out the rectangles, try to make them the same length and width, with a pizza cutter.
- Then, cut a diagonal line from one corner to the other in each rectangle. Move all excess dough out of the way and place your now 4 triangles on a baking sheet.
- Give the extra pieces of dough to your kids to experiment with shapes, cut out gingerbread men and otherwise have fun. There are a lot of steps to making a gingerbread tree but the first parts are kind of boring. The children can join in on the gluing and decorating with candy part. That’s the fun part!
Bake and Cool
If you roll out your dough onto a silicone baking sheet, then you can just slide the sheet and it’s contents onto your cookie pan. Just be sure to put a 1/2″ spacing between each triangle so they don’t stick together.
If they do, you can separate them with your pizza cutter when they come out of the oven without too much effort. If you do your cutting on a baking sheet, be sure not to press too hard because you can cut through the silicone. Bake and remove from the oven to cool.
Shaping the Pieces of Your Gingerbread Tree
Right when it comes out of the oven, use that pizza cutter to trim up any ragged edges. They don’t have to be perfect, just mostly straight. Your kids can do this part with some supervision.
You’ll need to let the gingerbread completely cool before you can assemble your gingerbread tree. Do NOT try to put this together when it’s warm, or it will just crumble.
I usually bake the gingerbread the night before I need to assemble the structure. I mostly do that so I don’t have to worry about the whole process all at once!
Assemble the Gingerbread Tree
Now it’s time to make a gingerbread tree. Use a hot glue gun for best results.
Don’t freak out. If you are going to eat the gingerbread tree, just don’t eat anything that isn’t edible. Like glue. You’re a highly intelligent person and I trust you not to eat glue. If you don’t want to use the glue, you can use the royal icing that you will use to affix the candy decorations. The icing isn’t tasty, but it’s edible.
- Put glue on the bottom and sides of a triangle and then do the same to another triangle. Stand the triangles together to form one large triangle.
- Hold them a moment or two while the glue cools down and hardens. 3. Affix another triangle along the seam, one on each side. You’ll create a three dimensional tree out of the four pieces.
Decorate Your Gingerbread Tree
Once the glue has cooled and hardened, make the royal icing.
Follow the instructions for your recipe precisely (even I measure for this one), because you don’t want the icing either too wet or too dry. Remember, if you want a healthier option than commercial powdered sugar, just use organic cane sugar, powdered in your high powered blender or food processor. You’ll need the high speed and sharp blades of something like a Viatmix. To learn how, click here.
Decorate it any way you please – the internet has oodles of ideas.
We also ended up making a one dimensional train for my nephew who has a birthday in December. I hadn’t planned on it when I made baked the tree parts, but we managed to create a sweet little train out of the remnants.
There’s something Christmas magical about these gingerbread structures. I don’t know what it is, but building them and enjoying them during the season is like visiting the Kingdom of the Sugar Plum Queen. I love them all.
BUT, if you need faster, easier and simpler, try the Christmas tree.
For instructions on building a Gingerbread House go visit Mom Prepare’s post on them – groovy.
If you’d like another House recipe, this one with a natural sweetener, here’s this one from My Humble Kitchen.
For more ideas on seasonal activities to enjoy with your family, try my friend Kathie’s book below. We use this one in our homeschool and during each of the seasons.