The secret trick to making the best gingerbread house

If your gingerbread houses always end up looking like they were decorated by a toddler holding fistfuls of crayons, it may be time to find a better way to frost. You and your family don't need to have need top-notch fine motor skills to get clean, crisp lines on your gingerbread house, and you don't need to be an artist to nail the candy placement. You just need to rethink your method — a little foresight goes a long way.

Pastry artist Catherine Beddall has a fix for sloppy decorating. As she tells People, "Decorate the separate pieces of the house and let them dry before putting the house together. It's easier for kids to add candies on a flat surface. Plus, the candies will stay put and not fall off as they work." When you frost and decorate the pieces before you put the whole house together, you'll have more control over where each embellishment is going. No more drippy, unrecognizable squiggles of icing.

How to master gingerbread house windows and roofs

The results pay off if you decide to decorate before assembling. By keeping the walls flat on the table while you frost frees you up to add all kinds of cool decorations that you wouldn't be able to add to an already-assembled house. For example, you can pour melted candies into the window holes for stained glass windows (via All Mom Does).

There is, however, one caveat. For almost all parts of the house, you'll have an easier time if you decorate beforehand. But there is one section of the house that you'll want to wait to frost until the whole house is put together.

"The roof area is easier to decorate after assembly," home and garden blog The Gardening Cook cautions," but it definitely helps to decorate the sides first." So frost the walls with all the window sills, bricks, and moulding you want, and generously apply gumdrops and other candies, but hold off on "tiling" the roof until your house is assembled. Your gingerbread decorating endeavors should be far less stressful (and messy) now.