My kids love decorating graham cracker houses around the holidays. In fact this year, my 7-year-old ranked our decorating session as his favorite activity we’ve done so far this season. I like it, too. It encourages creativity and offers a screen-free way to enjoy some family time. 

Over the years, I’ve collected the best house plan, royal icing and buttercream recipes, plus our favorite edible decorations. Here’s how to start building this tradition with your family.

Phase 1 - Build the Graham Cracker Houses

I actually build the graham cracker houses the night before—without kids. The process calls for knives and precision, so unless you have older kids, this is the way to go. Letting them dry overnight gives them plenty of time to set before it’s time to decorate. Pro tip: Make it a fun night with your partner — listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie as you make the houses. 

My favorite graham cracker blueprint comes from

What You’ll Need:

  • Honey Maid Graham Crackers – 5 per house

    • She recommends name brand graham crackers, and I have to agree they hold up well. 

  • Royal icing (for her homemade version, make sure you have eggs, confectioners’ sugar and cream of tartar on hand, find the recipe in this post)

  • Paper plate or cardboard

  • Bread knife or serrated knife

  • Disposable piping bag or sandwich bag

Check out this post for full instructions. 

Phase 2 - Decorate the Graham Cracker Houses

Now you can loop in the kids! This year we added a crusting buttercream the kids could spread on their houses as their decor “glue.” At 7 and 4, my boys found this much easier than piping royal icing. We tried this buttercream from and it was really easy to make and work with—and pretty delicious. 

Crusting Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup shortening, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Check out this post for full instructions. 

You will also want to gather some creative decor. This year I added pointed waffle cones so each house could have a tree in the yard and mini gingerbread people that boys loved staging in snowball fights and fort building. Other perennial favorites include: 

  • Mini stick pretzels

  • Pull ‘n’ Peel Twizzlers 

  • Crasiens 

  • Colorful candy (M&Ms, jellybeans, gum drops) 

  • Mini marshmallows

  • Chocolate chips 

  • Graham cracker scraps for additional structures like doors, windows, mailboxes, etc. 

I set up a muffin tin in the middle of the table with a little bit of each decoration in each cup. I also supply all decorators with their own butter knife and small bowl of buttercream. 

And that’s it! These are tried-and-true construction plans and icing choices, but feel free to get creative with any stage of this project. The main goal? Have plenty of fun (and a bit of sugar) during the holiday season.