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The holidays are all fun and games until your slab of just-hardened gingerbread cracks. But with a little patience and precision, there’s no limit to what you and your kids can build together. Here, nine gingerbread house ideas to help you think outside the (candy-covered) box.

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Build One That’s Candy-Free

Proof icing can be just as impressive as row after row of sugary red and green.

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...Or One That Sits on the Side of Your Hot Cocoa

Precision is a virtue, but if you have the patience—and motor skills—to assemble these teeny tiny houses, they’re especially tasty after you dunk them in your drink.

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Construct One That’s Modeled Around a Milk Carton

Use an empty (and rinsed out) carton—tall or small—as your base, then wrap it in foil and affix the gingerbread to every side using frosting. Voilà!

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...Or One That Looks a Lot Like a Brooklyn Brownstone

Beautiful bay windows are attached separately—and ever so carefully, too.

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Make One That’s Ready for Business

It takes a village, so why not construct one? A bakery is just the start of a series of buildings you can display in your dining room.

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...Or One That Looks Like an English Cottage

Use shredded wheat for the roof and white kidney beans for the sides. (White chocolate-covered raisins are another—more edible—option.)

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Build One That’s Lit From Within

The trick: Leave one panel off the roof, then stuff a 50-count strand of lights inside. (No candy or icing required.)

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...And One That’s Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright

Blueprints required, but the end result is an architectural—but still edible—feat.

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And of Course, One That Feels Kinda Like a She Shed

Gingerbread genius, right this way.

RELATED: Gingerbread Lattice Cookies

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