By Billie Lopez and Tootie Maldonado

Last December, we were looking for a creative way to reuse the extra shipping boxes we had lying around our shop. We came up with these “gingerboard” houses, which are an unexpected and fun way to package gifts for family and friends.

You can also keep them for yourself to use as decorations around the house. Put a few LED tea lights inside and use translucent paper in the windows to make it glow from within.

Making these houses may take a bit more time than your average gift wrap, but they’re sure to be a hit at the next holiday party. The best part is they can be used over and over again.

You can customize your house however you’d like, and there’s no need to buy new materials. Go through your own stash for pages from old books, kids’ drawings, fabric scraps, newspaper, cancelled stamps — anything goes.

Gingerboard houses are every bit as sweet as their edible cousins, only you won’t get cavities!

Project Steps

Choose a box.

Look for a box that will fit the gift you’re packaging, or choose a variety of sizes and make an entire gingerboard village.

Tape the bottom of the box closed, but leave the top flaps open.

Create the roof.

Draw and cut a centered triangle shape onto the front and back top box flaps. These will stand up to create your pitched roof.

If the 2 remaining side flaps are too short to meet up in the middle, just tape on extra panels of cardboard to give them more length. All 4 flaps should come together in the shape of a roof.

Cut out the windows and door.

Draw and cut out a few windows and a door, remembering to cut through only 3 sides of the door so it can swing open and closed.

Get as fancy as you like on the windows; cut plain circles or squares or leave some cardboard intact to create windowpanes.

An X-Acto knife works best for this kind of detailed work.

Embellish the house.

Use a rotary cutter or decorative scissors to create scalloped strips of kraft paper (or shipping tape) in various widths.

Layer the strips on all 4 flaps of the box to mimic a shingled rooftop, gluing them down as you work.

Glue on more paper embellishments wherever you might add icing on a real gingerbread house. The more trim the better: use it on the corners of the box and around the windows and door.

Add the finishing touches.

Tape various papers or fabrics to the inside of the box wherever you’ve cut openings.

Glue on a button for a doorknob.

Finally, using tape or glue, attach a strip of ribbon to the inside of each of the 2 topmost roof flaps. Tie these in a bow to close the box.

Now package your gift and let the giving begin!