Don’t’ Lick this House – Decorating a Mini Paper Mache Holiday House

My son brought home an assignment the other day asking about a tradition we share as a family during the holiday.  We always decorate our living room blasting music and this year’s CD of choice was James Brown (my 7 year old’s latest obsession).  We really had a fun, rowdy time trimming our tree to “It’s a Funky Christmas”.


Another tradition we love is making a gingerbread house.  It is usually a big sugary mess because the kids eat half the frosting.  All amped up, they leave it semi-abandoned once the gumdrop supply is depleted.  Don’t get me wrong, our yearly attempts are joyful, but the results are not pretty!  This year I thought I’d experiment with a less sugary approach and add in some natural elements to the project.


My daughter found these paper mache houses at our local craft store AC Moore.  The tops lift off so you can put a light inside.  We loved the idea of lighting it and adding it to our mantle collection of holiday tchotchkes.

I made a deal with the kids that I would buy SOME candy for this project but the rest of the materials, they had to forage for outdoors.  I had some gold glitter spray paint on hand to add some holiday sparkle to the materials. Giovanna invited her friend Renee to come join our project and the girls headed to the backyard to hunt for woodsy components.  Once they brought everything in the house and planned out what they wanted to use, they spray painted some of their finds.


With everything finally gathered on the table, I brought out the edibles. I had done some research on Pinterest and saw some inspirational uses of pretzels for facades, and Big Red gum for rooftops. The girls spied some cinnamon sticks in the pantry, and loved how those smelled, so we added all of these to the material mix.  I had to make good on my candy promise, so out came the candy canes and marshmallows to much fanfare.


I put some cider donuts on the table in the hope that they wouldn’t eat every last candy cane before any made it onto the houses.

Ingredients we used for this craft:

  • Paper mache house
  • Gathered foliage: such as bark, pine cones, acorns and moss
  • Gold glitter spray paint
  • Pretzels rods and pretzel sticks
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Candy Canes
  • Marshmallows
  • Big Red Gum
  • Scissors
  • Serrated knife
  • Glue gun
  • Newspaper or cardboard for work space

Giovanna and Renee started working and I pretty much stayed out of their way. They used scissors to cut the gum into shingles and a serrated knife to trim the pretzels down in size.


They worked, worked, worked away until they covered most of the paper mache house. I just love what they did!


Giovanna made an impressive entrance with curb appeal. Renee did some intricate latticework combining pretzels and licorice.


I helped Wilton with his house, but he did more licking than making. These nature-clad Holiday Houses were so sweet!

I hope you find some inspiration in this project.  It was really fun to mix up the materials for our family house-making tradition.  Wishing you a crafty holiday of togetherness!