Kids can make a sugar-free gingerbread village out of milk carton gingerbread houses to display on a Christmas mantel or a holiday table. It’s a terrific alternative to a candy gingerbread house.
The hooligans love decorating a gingerbread house, but as a home daycare provider, I’m not crazy about setting out a tray of candy and bowl full of icing for the kids to go nuts with. Instead, I get creative and come up with creative candy-free gingerbread crafts for the kids to do every year instead.
This year, I saved up a few juice cartons and milk cartons of the hooligans to turn into sugar-free gingerbread houses, as an easy Christmas craft one day, and boy, did we have fun.
You can just about any colourful odds and ends from your craft cupboard to decorate these gingerbread houses. It’s such a great way to build gingerbreads without actually using candy.
Let me show you what we used for ours.
To make our milk carton gingerbread houses, we used:
- milk/juice cartons
- brown paint
- cotton balls
- bits of ribbon
- craft foam pieces
- puffy stars and flowers
- craft gems and jewels
- paint chip samples
- aluminum foil
*other suggestions: beads, yarn, pom poms, stickers, washi tape, tinsel, coloured pasta, tissue paper etc.
Rinse your cartons, and allow them to dry.
If your carton has one of those spouts that you’ve peeled open, staple it back together so your roof is nicely shaped.
If it’s the kind of carton with a plastic lid, you can remove the lid, and let the plastic spout serve as a chimney.
Now the fun begins!
Making our gingerbread houses:
First we gave our drink cartons two coats of brown acrylic craft paint.
We set our cartons by the fire to dry, but you can also use a hair dryer to speed up the process.
Then, it was time to decorate!
We cut windows out of aluminum foil, and glued those in place. FYI: a cheap roll of aluminum foil is a must in the craft room because it can be used in so many ways. Check out these tinfoil tissue-paper ornaments and these jewelled tin foil trees to see what I mean.
We made some great doors out of the colouful sections of a paint chip sample.
We glued buttons and sequins and gems and jewels all over our houses, just as we would if we were sticking candies onto a real gingerbread house.
This little hooligan loves cutting so she chopped her foam shapes into small bits, and trimmed pieces of ribbon to put here and there.
The paint chip samples that I mentioned earlier are great for helping little ones develop their scissor skills too. The kids love cutting along the lines between the blocks of colour.
And we finished by stretching and fluffing the cotton balls to create snow for our roof-tops and smoke for our chimneys.
Aren’t they beautiful? I’d love to use our houses as a centerpiece for the kids’ table at Christmas!
And now, if you’d like to make a grown-up version of our houses, check out this gorgeous recycled gingerbread village made from milk cartons! Wouldn’t it look amazing on a mantel or down the center of your Christmas table?
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.