Most of us simply buy a kit and assemble it – the gingerbread walls are premade, the candies neatly packaged, all we need is a little creativity in decorating our edible abode. Some people, however, take gingerbread house making to the next level – and even then a couple levels higher than that. From ornately crafted winter scenes to charming – and painstakingly detailed – palatial homes, these talented builders put the rest of us to gingerbread shame!
20. The Carson Mansion in Eureka, CA. This gorgeous Queen Anne mansion with wraparound porch was recreated in intricate detail by Monte and Rita Adams for the National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville, NC. It took two full months to make, and even had transparent gelatin windows to allow the furniture inside to be viewed.
19. Victorian Palace by Stephanie S. of Florida – this astoundingly detailed home and grounds, complete with outbuildings and “rock” accents, was a 2009 winner of the This Old House Gingerbread House Contest.
18. Victorian Row Houses by Russ R. of California – the quaint set of three row houses in green, blue, and yellow is intricately detailed right down to the window curtains. They even feature little garages underneath. Perfect for a marzipan car!
17. Sugar Castle is an astounding, expansive creation in purples, blues, and pinks, created by Pastry Chef Jean-Francois H. of San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel. It took over 400 hours to craft.
16. Buckingham Palace by Glenn Y. – the multi-colored sugar windows speak for themselves on this majestic creation that took five full days to complete.
15. Holy Cross Church by Thomas W. of Florida is an angelic, colorful feast for the eyes that ate up eight pounds of candy and 200 hours.
14. Kerry Q. of Massachusetts created a unique gingerbread treehouse comprised of gingerbread, fondant, and – surprise – pretzels!
13. Rebecca W. of New York recreated an historic hotel that was demolished in the 1950s. Her stately Harrington Hotel featured a red brick look to its massive exterior.
12. Russian Dolls by Heather Lynn Lewis was a 2010 winner of the National Gingerbread House Competition. The creation featured four colorful, detailed dolls that took several weeks to perfect.
11. Santa’s German Gingerbread Village – this amazing, expansive tribute to the creator’s native Germany and to Hawaii where the house was displayed was a winter wonderland that stood over 14 feet high and spanned 24 feet in width.
10. Shakespeare’s Globe Theater was another masterpiece created for the National Gingerbread House Competition and featured chocolate fondant timber framing. The model was, amazingly, built to scale.
9. Brickwork Church – this creation is unique because of the hand-painted, painstakingly detailed exterior with each brick outlined individually.
8. A Christmas Story – this masterpiece, complete with the leg lamp recreated as the centerpiece, was crafted by the Seattle Sheraton culinary team assisted by an architecture firm.
7. Beach Shack was another contender in the NGHC. Created in a delightfully colorful scheme, the little beach house even has its own retro-hippie peace van, plus requisite surfboards, of course.
6. Noah’s Ark by Mary E. of Maryland – sweet little Noah stands on the deck of this creation, surrounded by his animal friends. The icing “water” splashes upon the sides of the ship.
5. Santa’s 1930 Model T Ford by Ann B. of North Carolina depicts a fondant Santa cruising with Rudolph and Ernie Elf in a red (of course!) Model T complete with windshield wipers, gear shift, and headlights.
4. The “Up” House – yes, from the movie. Russ R. of California crafted a near-perfect replica of this famous house, complete with gumball balloons emerging from the chimney. How else would it go floating through the sky?
3. Enchanted Christmas Light – this charming lighthouse is adorned with rocks on the exterior and accompanied by a sunbather and a little rowboat with hand-scored woodgrain.
2. Christmas Gingerbread Castle by Mary Beth E. of Virginia is mind-bogglingly detailed, complete with tiny little soldiers.
1. Just My Type – this adorable, unique, and oh-so-yummy gingerbread creation was made by New York bakery Baked Ideas. From the letters on the keys to the “paper” in the carriage, this gingerbread typewriter is the epitome of charm.
Even if most of us will never achieve the amazing level of detail involved in these incredible edible structures, they certainly do a stellar job of acting as inspiration for the average person’s humble little Christmas creations. Borrow a few ideas, practice some new techniques, and most importantly of all, have fun building!