After the big rush to get the other houses out in time for the contest, it was very nice to do a "relaxed" house.
Leena's idea was an apartment building with a Christmas tree. I think it came out rather well!
Here's how to do it the easy way:
1. We used a box as a base pattern (we actually laid the box on the gingerbread and cut around it).
2.We made the royal icing very thick (whip 4 egg whites and keep adding powdered sugar) so that it's a toothpaste texture.
When it's that thick, it holds the walls and roof on very well and dries quickly. It also holds candy on a vertical surface.
If you are careful (i.e. an adult) you can keep the surface of the house very clean for "professional" results. If you are a kid, you can build and decorate by yourself. You can always thin it later (with lemon juice) if you want to do fancy icing.
Somewhere along the line, we lost the roof on Leena's house, so she improvised with pretzel logs and frosting. We actually like this roof better, especially with the candy canes!
The only downside is that now Choclo wants to know when we will do his gingerbread house...
I also wanted to note that I use the gingerbread houses as a major home schooling art project as well as an opportunity to teach project planning for the older kids.