Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Turning A Friend's Home Into A Giant Gingerbread House, Part 1

This never made it to the blog last year - think I had too many other festive things going on - but last November we surprised our friend Ken by decorating the outside of his house for Christmas. We conspired with his wife Sue, then designed, purchased, and installed a full yard makeover on Ken's birthday:

We had a snowflake projector, motion lights, and color-changing trim on the eaves and pathway. (Sue likes colored lights and Ken likes white, so we got these remote-controlled sets that do both!)

Ken & Sue love Christmas, and have lots of decor inside, but neither are physically able to decorate outside. The most they've ever had was a wreath on the door, so this was really a treat for both of them.

I made simple swags for the exterior lights by turning a Dollar Tree dollar tree (snerk) upside down, adding two plastic bells, and a mesh bow. Again, all from Dollar Tree:

Unfortunately the garage lights were the type that hang down, so the swags didn't work. After a little brainstorming we zip-tied them back-to-back and hung the swags from the porch light instead.

Which turned out pretty cute! Then Sue supplied the banners and door wreath.

To give the yard a focal point we made a light tree around this real tree:

We used zip ties around the trunk to hold the lights up, then plastic yard stakes to anchor them to the ground.

The deer is my favorite, because I it gave a serious glow-up.

Here's the Before:

This was the largest deer for the best price I could find: only $30 from Home Depot. (Or it was $30; this year I see it's up to $35.)  Of course you sometimes get what you pay for, and as you can see, it looks pretty terrible.

So to make it look better, I grabbed 5 rolls of this sparkly mesh from Dollar Tree. It's plastic, so weather-proof.

I wired one end of the mesh to the deer, starting at her head, and wrapped her up like a mummy.

Then I finished her off with a ribbon scarf:


I love this so much, highly recommend mummifying all your skeleton deer out there. ;)

In January we also packed everything up for our friends and stored the deer by hanging it on the wall in their garage. I'm happy to report it survived beautifully, and looks just as fresh and sparkly now as the day I made it. 

So all of that was an extremely long intro to our latest project: decorating our friends' house again!

Last year we only had a single afternoon - and no tall ladders - to finish the whole house, since it was a surprise. This year we can go a little more... extreme.

::puts on sunglasses and attempts to look cool::


Did you, perchance, notice how our friends' house is brown with white trim?


I've wanted to make more giant gingerbread things ever since our life-sized gingerbread entry from our Hufflepuff Slumber Party:

Our own house is tragically non-gingerbread-y, so I realized this was my chance.

Which is why, literally the night before we were set to install everything at Ken & Sue's, I walked into John's room and said, "WHAT IF WE MADE IT A GIANT GINGERBREAD HOUSE?"

And John, bless him, looked thoughtful for a moment, then said, "Let's do it."

This has become an all-encompassing project since, and we have lots more to finish and install. So rather than show you everything let me start with the part we're about to throw in the trash as a complete do-over. Because hey, we learned stuff!


Those are Dollar Tree white tablecloths, hand-cut pink foam stamps, and acrylic craft paint.


(Thanks to everyone who let me know Instagram embeds don't work anymore without the app! I'll use YouTube Shorts from now on instead.)

We attached the plastic trim to the eaves with command strips, which worked great, but what we didn't anticipate was THE WIND. This could be residual from the hurricane, but I had to take a good two dozen photos before I finally got one with all the icing trim hanging down properly:

SO CUTE when it hangs right, though, right?

If the wind was the only issue we'd probably leave it, but a couple days later we saw the painted dots are also prone to sticking to themselves as the wind blows them around. I suspect the heat of the sun makes the paint more grippy, like vinyl, which is causing a few spots to catch and wrinkle.

I still think this is a great DIY for indoors or possibly even lower roof lines outside, like around a porch or patio. In our friends' case, though, we're already making Icing Trim 2.0. This next version should be much sturdier, less flippy-flappy, and only a little more expensive. Yes I'm being mysterious. Stay tuned!

We've also been making lots more gingerbread decor for the house and yard, because this trim? It's only the beginning. Here are a couple sweet WIPs to whet your appetite for later:

We've never decorated the outside our own house for Christmas... but these giant candies may convince me. SO FUN. (And only $2 each to make. Cha-ching!)

Someone told me this week that pink foam insulation should be sponsoring us. I agree. Who do I speak to about this? :p

Stay tuned for lots more things candy-themed and giant gingerbread-y! Also keep an eye on my Stories on FB or IG for plenty of sneak peeks along the way.


P.S. Speaking of stories, y'all loved the ones of Suki & her stick so much I thought I'd share it here:

Every time I mention Silvervine I find folks who've never heard of it, so cat owners, this is for you!

If your cats don't react to catnip, try these; they're branches from a different plant with the same effect. My cats like both, but I prefer Silvervine since the sticks are less messy than loose catnip, plus help clean their teeth. (I leave a couple out on the floor, so every few days the girls rediscover them and play/chew for a bit.)

Even better, a 10-pack of sticks is only $6, and lasts forever. It's been 2 years and I'm still on my second pack. Every couple months I'll scrape off a little bark to expose more of the wood underneath, which freshens the effect; the cats are EXTRA interested afterward. (The sticks have no smell for humans, btw.) HIGHLY recommend for your feline friends, or as stocking stuffers for human friends with kitties.


P.P.S. Thanks for all the love for my mom, she's doing better! Still sick for over 3 weeks now, but she's strong enough to go for daily walks and is sounding more like herself every day.


P.P.P.S. Oh hey, and here are the color-changing lights we used at Ken & Sue's! I did a lot of comparison shopping before deciding on these, and we're all really happy with them:

BrizLabs Color Changing Lights, 115 Feet

I like the clear wiring, the multi-functions, and the fact that these are super long. We used 2 strands for the house and a third to make the light tree in the yard.


  1. This is so cool looking! My coworker and I are enjoying the progress. How did you make the sweets? I hope your dad is doing better too!

  2. "This next version should be much sturdier, less flippy-flappy, and only a little more expensive. Yes I'm being mysterious"

    Pink insulation foam?

    NOT pink insulation foam???? :O

  3. Ok, this is what I was looking for when I was looking for the lights, Jen! I’ve ordered 4 sets and live them!!

  4. Re the deer: "Her head"??? Antlers! It's a boy!

    1. Not necessarily if it's a reindeer! Both male and female reindeer have horns. (That was a fun fact I learned last year. ;))

    2. Male reindeer drop their antlers in November so if you see a reindeer at Christmas, it's female! Female reindeer keep their antlers til Spring.

  5. It looks great so far, when the wind is still! (Flippy-flappy is my new word for the week and I'm determined to find ways to use it). Thanks for sorting the video problem too! But yeah, wind is a problem there. Can't wait to see the final result


Please be respectful when commenting; dissenting opinions are great, but personal attacks or hateful remarks will be removed. Also, including a link? Then here's your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>