I know you can buy your own gingerbread house kit from the store... but isn't it more fun to make your own (the answer is yes). So here's a fun family-night activity for you. For the truly ambitious, here is how to make your own gingerbread house. For the fainter of heart, gingerbread men are always fun. Last year I let my husband be in charge of the decorating table and we ended up with NBA All-Star gingerbread men, Masked Mexican Wrestler gingerbread men and even little missionaries in shirts and ties. He's an artist.
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup water
Cream shortening and sugar. Sift flour with salt, soda and spices. Blend flour mixture into creamed mixture alternately with molasses and water. You should have a very firm dough. Chill at least 1 hour. Sometimes I make the dough the day before.
Roll your dough out to a desired thickness (about 1/4 inch). Cut your gingerbread men, or the shapes you need for your house. Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes (less for soft gingerbread men, more for crispier house walls). Cool and decorate (or assemble).
This year I'm planning on making gingerbread men to hang on the kids' Christmas tree. If you're going to hang up your gingerbread people, make sure to cut a small hole in the top of the head before you bake them. Once your cookie is decorated and cooled, thread red ribbon through the hole and hang your adorable creation on the tree.