I’ve always wanted to make a DIY haunted gingerbread house for Halloween, and this seems like the year I finally do it. Let’s be honest, Halloween isn’t going to be the same this year. In lots of ways. And that kind of sucks. But on the other hand, sometimes the constraints we have (like uh, Covid) can help us get even more creative and create different memories with the kids.
So, when I started searching for DIY haunted gingerbread house ideas the other night, I knew this would be one little thing I could do with my kids to make the Halloween season a little more fun.
Oh man, do we need fun.
Top image: How to make a haunted gingerbread house, via Pretty Life Girls
Now, I’m not really one for baking an entire gingerbread house from scratch. If you are, start with a full gingerbread house recipe like this one here’s one from the queen, Sally at Sally’s Baking Addiction. But if you’re like me, use Christina’s hack: get a ready-to-build Gingerbread Haunted House Kit from Williams-Sonoma (above), from Target, or her favorite, off the shelves at Trader Joe’s. Then, improvise from there.
Or, just get wild with a graham cracker base, and all those fall-colored candies for decorations.
To get your creative juices flowing, take a look at some of these incredible haunted gingerbread house decorating ideas and tips for your kids, or a mini party with your quaran-team.
And hey, if you’re already a pro or if you get super into it, this tutorial at Instructables for how to turn lights on inside a gingerbread house can make yours next-level. They’re totally boo-tiful.
(Yes, I went there.)
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Related: Halloween crafts, printable, pumpkin decorating ideas, and more
DIY Haunted Gingerbread Houses:
My favorite tips, recipes, and inspiration
Tip 1: Skip the from-scratch recipe and use graham crackers
If you’re looking for a project that’s more DIY than a pre-made craft kit, but not so much that you want to bake from scratch, follow the instructions here at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for a DIY haunted gingerbread house made from graham crackers and caramel.
Instead of using craft glue to hold them together (eek), her caramel “glue” hack means your kids can eat them when they’re done.
Tip 2: Look for chocolate graham crackers for an even spookier look.
So simple right? And makes such a big difference.
Tip 3: Create a cute pumpkin patch from candy
This DIY Haunted Gingerbread House tutorial at The Pretty Life Girls includes some fantastic, close-up photos of their house, so you can really dig into the details and see exactly how they put them together. I think my favorite part is the candy-pumpkin patch, with tiny threads of piped icing to create the vines.
Although the gummy bats, pretzel fence, and cookie graveyard are awfully fun too. So much inspiration here, I could spend all day trying to get my wafer-cookie path just like theirs! And don’t miss the tip they swear by to hold it all together. It’s not frosting!
Related: The easiest Halloween treats to make with kids this year.
Tip 4: Create a boiling cauldron with candy
Another creative Haunted Gingerbread House that’s full of ideas is the one I spotted at Mom Endeavors. She also offers helpful close-up photos in her DIY tutorial, so you can make your details as good as hers. Or at least try!
I’m loving the KitKat walkway and white chocolate bar doors, but my favorite detail has to be her tip for making a boiling cauldron using…a Cadbury Egg. Just try to get one that’s fresh and not one that’s been hanging around since Easter!
Tip 5: Try a minimalist haunted gingerbread house covered in candy skulls
This edible haunted gingerbread house covered in skulls from the pros at Wilton isn’t as hard to make as it looks. Really! The tutorial provides all the step-by-step instructions, you need but the short version is this: you’ll need white candy melts and a candy skull mold. So easy. Then, just follow the directions at Wilton to cover your entire house in them, for a fun DIY Halloween project that our edgier teens and tweens will love.
Related: 11 cool Halloween craft projects for teens and tweens that they won’t think are lame
Photo by Emily Kate Roemer at Studio D; prop styling by Marina Malchin
Tip 6: Create creepy haunted trees from black licorice
The fun details in your haunted gingerbread house’s yard can add so much to the final creation, like you see in this gingerbread haunted house via Woman’s Day.
Need some help? I tracked down a detailed video tutorial for making spooky edible haunted house trees thanks to Parents Magazine. I love the other clever ingredients it uses too: like those cinnamon-cereal roof shingles and the half-Mint Milano cookie as the tombstone. Which is an old classic, but still a good one.
Woman’s Day also offers an easy recipe for the house itself that uses ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, should you want to go full-on from scratch.
Photo: Steve Giralt for Good Housekeeping
Tip 7: Swipe ideas from your favorite Halloween cake decorating tutorials.
The Wilton DIY Haunted House Cake tutorial has some really good tips for using fondant for decorations that you could absolutely put to use on your gingerbread haunted house too. But plenty of other sites that showcase cool Halloween cakes will have tricks you can borrow, whether you want to make perfect icing spider webs, or creepy crawlies made from little candies.
How great is that edible keep out sign on the Halloween Haunted Forest Cake from Good Housekeeping (above)? In fact, there’s a lot of Halloween cake inspiration on their site.
Maybe we’ll make a separate cake when we’re done with the edible haunted gingerbread house. Why not?