Gingerbread houses. Kids love them, but unless you’re a master confectioner the holiday tradition can be a challenge. From not-so-sticky walls to running out of sweet supplies, there are always a few kinks in the plan. Lucky for you we’ve found nine ideas that’ll make your gingerbread skills skyrocket. From cementing secrets to clever decor ideas, scroll down for tips, tricks and more!

designingingerbread_usfleet_flickr_gingerbreadhacks_holidaytreats_redtricyclephoto: U.S. Pacific Fleet via flickr

1. Design it first.
Any architect will tell you it’s a good idea to lay out the design of your house. Kids can decide what candy they want to use, and where, which will help prevent running short on supplies mid project. Psst! This is a great way to indulge in your Pinterest habit!

creative commons gingerbread housephoto: courtesy flickr creative commons

2. Use graham crackers instead of gingerbread.
Who says houses covered in icing and candy need to be made from gingerbread? Forgo the baking in favor of using this kid-fave snack as the base. Not only are the pieces smaller and easier for tiny hands, but this could lead to all-year house making fun— after all, don’t the other holidays deserve their own house, too?

candygingerbreadhousephoto: Sommy Rhee

3. Make something else.
If your budding engineer is more into trains than interior design, let her create her own candy locomotive instead of the traditional house. She’ll be engaged for hours, and it’ll be a creative conversation starter over the holiday season.

gingerbreadhousecandy_kimlaurenson_gingerbreadhacks_holidaytreats_redtricyclephoto: Kim Laurenson via flickr

4. Use leftover Halloween candy.
If you are still trying to get rid of the Halloween stash, this is as good as time as any. Twizzlers, M&Ms, Hershey Kisses, and other trick-or-treat classics all work well.

gingerbreadkit_jasonmeredith_gingerbreadhacks_holidaytreats_redtricyclephoto: Jason Meredith via flickr

5. Buy a kit.
Keep it simple this year. Buy a pre-made gingerbread house complete with icing. The directions and gear is included, all you’ll need to gather are eager little elves.

othersupplies_billmcchesney_gingerbreadhacks_holidaytreats_redtricyclephoto: Bill McChesney via flickr

6. Use other stuff besides candy.
Go on, get creative! Pretzels work great for fences and window panes, marshmallows make good snowdrifts or animals. The kids can even add toys— cars, miniatures, and more!

hotgluehack_kristinmagnus_gingerbreadhacks_holidaytreats_redtricyclephoto: Kristen Magnus via flickr

7. Instead of icing, use hot glue to keep the house together.
This idea pretty much confirms what we already knew: You can do anything with hot glue. Don’t believe us? Head over to My Little Poppies for details.

fruitrollup_kacie_gingerbreadhacks_holidaytreats_redtricyclephoto: Kacie via flickr

8. Use fruit rollup for window blinds.
If the kids want the inside of their house to be off-limits to peeping visitors, simply cut blinds out of fruit rollups. It will make the design all the more adorable!

sugarconeastree_lisaclarke_flickr_gingerbreadhacks_holidaytreats_redtricyclephoto: Lisa Clarke via flickr

9. Make trees out of upside down sugar cones and icing.
File this under “why didn’t we think of that?” Turn a classic sugar cone point side up, coat in green frosting and even dust with powdered sugar “snow” for a woodsy outdoor scene.

Do you decorate a gingerbread house with the kids? Share with us in a Comment below!

—Gabby Cullen

Featured photo: Don LaVange via flickr