Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bringing Our Life-Sized Gingerbread House... To Life

Time to show you guys our second big build for the coming Hogwarts slumber party! (If you missed the giant stone fireplace build, you can check that out here.)
The last few years John and I've put up a fake brick entry to our back room, like this:

After two years we wanted a change, though, and wracked our brains for an appropriate entry to the Hufflepuff Common Room.

Eventually I narrowed it down to basic 'Puff priorities: fun and food. Throw Christmas into the mix, and of course you get a life-sized gingerbread house, right?

Here's a teaser to get you to keep scrolling. Muahahaaaa.

The basic structure went up lightning fast: John was done in barely two days. He used cheap 2X4s to build the frame, keeping the whole thing in two pieces for easy installation:

 Testing the fit inside:

 You can see here how we're narrowing the entry to give ourselves room for the side walls of the gingerbread house. Gotta have that symmetry!

 From there John clad the walls and roof in Masonite panels:

 (This thing took up most of our garage, so this was as far back as I could get for photos!)

My initial design included two small turrets, but they were such a struggle to work around that we eventually - and very reluctantly - nixed them to make room for these House mascot cookies I drew instead:


John insisted we make these, plus we hoped they would make the entry look more Hogwarts and less Candy Castle.

Carved insulation foam to make snowdrifts on the roof:
I love this insulation foam; it's a breeze to cut and carve - even sand! - and it paints like a dream.

We also added PVC tubes to the entry for giant peppermint sticks. John sliced off a small section of each tube so it would slide right over the archway wall.

Again, all of this happened pretty fast, but once it came to finishing and painting, things ground to a halt.

If you follow my Instagram Story then you might remember my excitement when we discovered a homemade puff paint that looks just like real icing, but pipes out HUGE:

Unfortunately this only hardens to a sponge-like consistency, though, so it's not durable at all. (It cracks when bumped.) With our two rambunctious kitties already chewing on these samples, we knew it would never survive 'til the party in here. Which was GUT-WRENCHING for my cookie plans, let me tell ya. 

That puff paint is a blast to play with, though, so I'm determined to use it on something in the future!

We tried half a dozen other concoctions of paint, plaster, caulking, and even spray foam, but alas, nothing could compare to that original puff paint.

So, with time running out and the Gingerbread House already built, we gritted our teeth and decided to keep moving forward.

We projected my drawings onto big sheets of butcher paper so I could trace the cookie designs:

Including my Story photo just for my brilliant hashtag. Whut.

I cut out the paper templates, and taped them to more pink insulation foam:

John then cut them out with a jigsaw, followed by a router to round the edges.

Here we are testing the sizes of our cookies with the house:

Next, paint!

Amazing what a difference just getting that roof white makes. We also glittered it for extra shine, though the glitter barely shows up inside. (Harrumph.)

While John was glittering the roof, I was trudging through cookie assembly:

I used white craft foam for the icing lines and scarves, which was fast and relatively easy, except none of my glues wanted to stick and I was still grumpy over none of our icing experiments working out.

I used blue tape to hold everything in place while the glue dried. (Note the lion paw falling off, ha.) It's a good thing these things are so light, because I was ready to throw them all by the end!

Once John got the house inside and we set the cookies up with it, though, I started to have a glimmer of hope that maybe everything wasn't terrible:

Then John knocked it outta the park with the most INCREDIBLE peppermint paint job on those PVC tubes:

If you've never attempted to paint spirals on something like this, let me just tell you: it's impossible. I actually watched John do it with math and angles and some kind of incantation, so yeah: impossible. He used this gorgeous high gloss cherry red paint, and peeling that tape off was MAGIC.

The windows are more insulation foam, carved the same way John did the cookies. On the backside of the frames I taped some bright yellow poster board covered with a sheet of clear cellophane for shine.

The giant gumballs are my favorite part of the whole house; they're dollar store ornaments that John cut in half and spray-painted:


Then we attached them to the walls with plain house caulking. Caulking looks just like icing, so if I could go back in time I'd make my cookies tiny and just "ice" them with caulk, ha.

I bet you're PROBABLY ready to see the finished house by now. You've definitely earned it if you're still reading this far!


Ta daaa:

It's cute, right? Cute, colorful, and relatively cheap, since we spent less than $100 on all the materials.

 The top cookies have little foam spacers against the roof so they sit up straight:

 (Why yes, I *did* use book-accurate colors. WHO'S GOT YOUR BACK, RAVENCLAWS?)

 And the floor cookies have easel backs, also made of insulation foam.

Obviously I would change some stuff if I could (::shakes fist in puffy paint's direction::), but in the end we have a sweet entryway that I think fits our Slumber Party theme bang-on, since we're going for more of kiddy, sweet-and-silly feel this year. 

Oh! And here's a little creative problem-solving for you: there's a very necessary wall switch right behind our gingerbread wall. Solution?

Make a removable gumball! (We use a stick to poke through the hole and turn the light off and on now. It's like a fun game, except when it's dark and you're tired and you've been jabbing that stupid stick in the hole for like 20 seconds trying to find the switch that's a mere 3 inches back and "how am I missing it where IS this thing?!" Then it's less fun.)

Side angle.

Oh hey, I'll even show you how pretty this is on the OPPOSITE side:

John taped a dollar store plastic tablecloth over the exposed 2X4s back here, so at night the whole thing looks like a solid wall. SUPES professional. My man, e'erbody. MY MAN.

I hope this made you smile, peeps, if only at how genuinely ridiculous John and I are. For what it's worth, we know... and we're OK with it.

Also if anyone in the central Florida area would like a cute gingerbread house entryway sometime after the 9th and has a truck big enough to fit this in (the roof lifts off), hit me up. I'd love to see this get a second use somewhere! Maybe ask around at your schools, libraries, churches, etc. If no one wants it, it'll just be getting ripped apart after the new year.

I still have several party projects to show you guys, including how I sewed my own chair slipcovers FROM SCRATCH WHAAAAAT and all the fantabulous puzzles we've built and concocted for our  Harry Potter Escape Room (WHAAAAAAT), and of course the final reveal of all our fun decorations! I'm sure we'll do a video walk-through for you guys like we did last year, so rest assured you'll see it all in nauseating detail. :D

Hope you're staying healthy and happy out there, gang. Remember to take time to breath. 



  1. Oh. My. GAWD. I am DYING here!!! You two have once again outdone yourselves!!! Who knew a SNAKE could be SO COMPLETELY ADORABLE????????????????????????? SQUEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Pardon my french, but this is fucking amazing!

  3. Is there a local youth theater you could contact? Or a school theater department. Besides maybe having a need for a house front, they would probably LOVE to have you guys work with them on set designs!

    1. Yeah. What she said. As someone who does run a theatre company, I super wish I knew someone like you two to help with the design and especially the construction.

  4. Nailed it!! Very impressive!

  5. I would contact your nearest elementary school and see if a teacher would be interested! SERIOUSLY.

    1. Yes! I teach prekindergarten and I would love this for my classroom, also I’d be sure to win the school Christmas door decorating contest. If only I didn’t live in Georgia.

  6. So amazing! When I was reading through, I thought "I have to comment on how excited I am to see "real" Ravenclaw colours! Then I saw that you mentioned it - kudos!

    Wishing you a fantastic party!


  7. Wow! This is just so joyful! Great job!

  8. I really hope someone at a school sees this. It would be the best ever reading nook in a school library. Can you check your locals?

  9. Oh. My. BADGERS!! This is the cutest thing ever, and I'm totally NOT a biased Hufflepuff but the badger cookie is hands down the most adorable of all. Oh my goodness. I want to be you when I grow up.

    1. Thank you! The badger was the hardest to get right, took me a few tries - and you'll notice he's as big as the lion, because John is a VERY proud Puff, haha.

  10. Hufflepuff for the win!!! It really is all about the food and fun.

  11. I really want a Hufflepuff gingerbread cookie! That is stinkin’ adorable! I would challenge bakers to make them for Christmas, but I don’t think I could handle the cookie wrecks. It would make me cry.

  12. RAVENCLAWESOME (the husbot is a 'puff, so it's ALL good)

  13. Stuff like this really makes me wish I had a garage with power tools! I'd love to do some big builds (Like making Jareth's throne).

    Question for you, I am wanting to make a quick and easy brick wall that I can use for my own parties. Since space is a concern, I'm hoping to get something that I can store easily... so my thought is, take large rolls of craft foam, cut bricks into them, and then pop that onto my wall. I'm hoping it'll be light enough to stay up without too much trouble, and after the party is done I can roll them up and store them away for next year. Any thoughts?

    1. that sounds like it would work - attach with removable doublesided tape. Or use painted sponges with small command/velcro strips

  14. RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING!! I love this so much! I would seriously pay so much to go to this. And yes, thank you for the accuracy of the Eagle and scarf colors. I’m a proud Ravenpuff!! 💙💛

  15. This turned out SO CUTE! I love the cookies and John's candy canes are perfect. I hope you find someone who needs this once you're don with it, it's too cute to go back to scraps. Y'all are the most creative, I swear.

  16. This puts the local mall's "Santa's House" to absolute shame!! I wish my little granddaughter could get her picture taken at YOUR place!

  17. So are you moving it outside for Christmas after the party? It looks fantastically fun and made me smile while I procrastinate about homework.

  18. I can't even begin to tell you how much joy your Harry Potter crafts bring me!!

  19. Now would be the time to use Alexa or other smart tech to turn the light on or off.

    But OMG! This is awesome! You all amaze me!

  20. There's a bakery around here that makes an actual life size gingerbread house around the holidays each year. Well, more like child playhouse sized, but you can still hunch over and sit inside it if you're an adult.

    I think I'd rather have the non-edible version in my house, though.

    1. o geez - I would definitely have to taste the frosting when walking past. and any attached candy would be devoured by my sugar-happy boys.

  21. Post pics on Facebook marketplace and Next-door and I'm sure someone will want it for a Santa backdrop! It's awwesome!

  22. Impressive as always! Not just fun, but you do everything so well. Love it!

  23. There are no words...that is just... I love it so much. :)

  24. I'm attempting to make someones cubicle into a gbread house. What kind of paint for the insulation foam, can spray adhesive be used on it? How did you cut the ornaments? I almost sliced my finger off with an exacto knife.

  25. Book colors and an eagle, hallelujah. If you don't get any takers here, have you thought about seeing if the people over at Give Kids the World might be interested? I imagine they do holiday decor and this is definitely on-par with Disney theming. And since you already gave them a rocker, I thought you might already have a contact there....

  26. THOSE COOKIES!!!!!!! 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍 If you made enamel pins of your cookies, I would buy them so fast 😍

  27. I can't get over those adorable cookies. You need to make stickers or something, because I need them!

  28. There is nothing more rare and precious than partners who can both work and play together. You guys do truly amazing and wonderful things! Thank you so much for sharing them.

  29. Holy gingerbread! That is so awesome. If I lived closer, I would totally be picking that up on the 10th to put in my house.

  30. Love love love! Wish I had a truck. I would come get it in a heartbeat for my church!

  31. I also think the cookie designs would make cute stickers. You could sell them on redbubble or society6. They both do die cut stickers. Oh and they'd probably make cute acrylic key chains too.

  32. I would have found a way to connect the gumball to the light switch so that moving the gumball turns the light on lol. Cuzzz Ravenclaw. (Yay for book colors!)

  33. I have a friend who works at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando, and I've let her know about this. The kids would really think this is awesome (because it is!)!

  34. Far too late to help but perhaps this suggestion could be useful if you end up using your puff paint for some other craft. In the D&D crafting community, the use of foam is pretty common but given how soft it is, it'd never stand up to prolonged table play. So most crafters seal foam rock and landscapes with a brushed on coating of PVA glue or Mod Podge for added strength.


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