Last year, and for many, many years previously, YWCA Walla Walla hosted a much-loved holiday tradition, building Hansel & Gretel houses. If you were there, you may remember how much fun the kids (and parents!) had or how many attended. You may recall, especially in recent years, families wearing extremely festive (definitely not “ugly”) Christmas sweaters.
If you’re a little germaphobic, you may also remember a lot of licking of sticky fingers, no matter how vigilant parents and volunteers tried to be with cleaning wipes. Clearly, this isn’t something we could continue with COVID cases on the rise. But we couldn’t completely give up on such a wonderful tradition.
So here are some ways you can build a house with the YWCA and remember all the women and families who need a safe home this holiday season. (Note: The more popular videos may require waiting to skip ads.)
1. Graham cracker houses.
If you’ve made Hansel & Gretel houses before, this process will look familiar. Our volunteers always broke a lot of crackers trying to trim gables, so sometimes we gave up and left the roofs open. But this mom makes it look easy using a serrated knife with short sawing motions to form roof peaks. We always ordered royal icing from the bakery, but these are assembled using a can of dollar store frosting. You can pick up candy there too. We never bought discount graham crackers, though, because we thought they’d break more easily. Let us know if you are successful!
2. Graham crackers, take 2
Here’s a clear tutorial on building sturdy, tidy graham cracker houses. It uses a simple icing of powdered sugar + water that appears to work quite well. The demo doesn’t include decorating techniques, but check out the pretzels in the photo for an idea.
3. Upgrade your house with Pop-Tarts
This may not be the healthiest choice for everyday snacking, but toaster pastries make a cute, quick little house. You’ll need six to make one house, so look for a multipack.
4. Homemade gingerbread for purists
You’ll love Jemma and her tasty tiny houses! You may need to hit up Google for UK-to-US conversion of measurements, or to figure out a substitute for ingredients you can’t find here (golden syrup?), but the size makes a perfect little house for sharing, especially if you don’t want to pile on a lot of candy.
5. One more homemade option
Sally makes her house from scratch with royal icing and buttercream. She also uses some fancy tools. But like she says, there are no rules for making a gingerbread house. Have fun and don’t be afraid to improvise!
6. Buy a kit
Just about every store seems to have a gingerbread house kit, whether you’re shopping online or going inside. Several are in the $10 range, which might cost less than a shopping trip for supplies. Just don’t wait too long to pick yours out…you never know what’s going to run short this year!
Thousands of holiday houses are waiting to be discovered if you go down the Internet rabbit hole. You’ll find everything from raw eggs to hot glue holding houses together and decorations from museum-quality to truly disastrous. Remember: If your house collapses, add a dinosaur!