Tis the season—to get lots, lots of bundles! Before you flatten the boxes to put down with your recycling, consider turning them into holiday crafts. Here’s a step-by-step guide to turning empty cardboard boxes into festive gingerbread houses.
To choose your box. For this project, look for boxes that already resemble the shape of a house. Think rectangular rather than long and flat. The box size can be as big or small as you want. Small boxes look great on a mantle or table, medium to large boxes can be displayed on a windowsill or can even be used as a doll or child’s playhouse.
Gather your materials. In addition to your box, you will need flat pieces of cardboard to make a roof, white paint, paintbrushes, cotton balls, candy, construction paper, glue stick, and either school glue or a hot glue gun (adult supervision required for this) . Keep some newspaper handy to protect your floor or table when painting, and plan to wear a smock or work clothes that you don’t mind putting paint or glue on.
Find inspiration. Look online for pictures of gingerbread houses. There are so many choices that it can be difficult to choose just one. If you wish, you can combine details from several examples into one house. It’s yours.
Prepare your box. Remove address labels and tape. If you want to start with a perfectly smooth surface, open the box top and bottom and locate the reinforced edge inside the box. You can separate this edge and turn the whole box upside down. Re-glue the box along the same edge, then glue the top and bottom closed.
Build your roof. Fold a flat, rectangular piece of cardboard in half and place it on top of your box. Hot glue along the edges to make it adhere. School glue will also work, but it will need to be held in place longer for it to dry completely. Cut small triangles out of another piece of cardboard and glue them in place to cover the space between the top of the box and the inside of the roof.
Take a brush. The advantage of cardboard is that it already has the color of gingerbread; white paint details will look like icing trim. Start by painting your roof according to the design you have chosen. It can be a solid white for snow or a drift effect. You can also paint a scalloped border to look like roof shingles or strings of Christmas lights. When you’re done, place your brush in the water until it’s time to put on the final details.
Make a door and windows. You can paint these details onto your box or you can cut shapes out of construction paper and glue them on with a glue stick. I used construction paper to make a red arched doorway and blue rectangular windows.
Paste the candy details. I used small candy canes, peppermints and DOTS. This can be a great way to use up leftover Halloween candy if you don’t feel like buying new ones. You don’t even have to use real candy. You can paint candy designs or cut and glue colored construction paper circles to look like candies.
Paint the moldings white on the windows, doors and walls. Wipe off your brush and prepare more white paint to create details such as window panes, icicles, door trim, polka dots, and any other decorations you wish to add. A thin brush is best for creating clean lines.
Let it snow. Add a cotton ball “snow” for a finishing touch. Separate the cotton balls and glue the fluff around the edge of the roof and the base of your house.
Share photos of your creations! Send photos of your gingerbread houses to: [email protected] I hope you liked this DIY idea!
Marie Heuston is the Parent Coordinator at Red Hook PS 676