Note: I found the original idea in the Kansas City Star newspaper, but rewrote the directions so children could understand them with older teen/ adult help. I have taught this craft as a class several times to elementary age cousins and homeschooled children. This recipe was originally published on Old Fashioned Living.com.
Note: some ingredients will be enough for 2 houses. You can share or trade extra ingredients such as the candy with others in the class if you so desire.
A Tip: Pour candies into a clean muffin tin or small custard cups to so that you can easily grab individual candies to decorate your Christmas cottage and to pass around. If they aren't eaten before the house is done, pour them into small Zipper bags to take them home.
10 pop tarts for each house and yard (in any flavor and frosted/unfrosted)
1 can white pre-made/canned frosting
candies such as candy canes, teddy bear grahams, sprinkles, M&M's, jelly beans, gum drops, pretzels, cinnamon candies, peppermint candy, sugar ice cream cones, colored vanilla wafers, string licorice, large marshmellows, etc.
1 tube each of red and green piping gel
1 tray to put cottage on or a foil covered piece of cardboard (app. 15" x 15")
several small bowls to put candies into
1 small frosting spatula for each person making a cottage
1 table knife to cut pop tarts with
paper towels or wipes for the messies
camera & film to take photos of cottages before taking home
1 box to carry creation home in
Step 1: Put a dab of frosting on tray or cardboard to "glue" (anchor) your pop-tarts down.
Step 2: Base = 4 pop-tarts. Smooth frosting along 1 long side edge and one short side edge of pop-tart rectangle and gently press together flat onto the center of your tray. This is your Christmas Cottage's garden (yard).
Step 3: Ends of House = 2 pop-tarts. Cut off corners of one end of long side of pop-tarts to make gable of house. Don't cut too deep until you see how roof of house fits together. Cut deeper if needed. Top of pop-tart will look like an A.
Step 4: Sides of House = 2 pop-tart rectangles laid sideways. Slather frosting on all 4 side edges of pop-tart and fit together the short bottom sides of the "gabled A" pop-tarts at the corner of the cottage, pressing gently into each other & down onto the center of your base "yard". Hold the corner a bit until frosting dries and "glues" itself together. If you need reinforcement at corners, a toothpick or pretzel stick will help. (Note: sticky icing fingers may pull apart your house or decorations, so wipe your hands periodically with a damp paper towel). Do the same with the other pop-tarts.
Step 5: Roof = 2 pop-tarts sideways. Put frosting on one long end and on undersides of "roof" where sides of "cottage" will meet. Press roof together with both hands on top of house. Fill in holes or gaps with frosting, especially at the "A" ends. Be gentle as these houses will not stand a lot of rough treatment.
Step 6: Fun part = Decorating! Tip: pull down tip of spatula to make snowy icicles on roof of house. Use the left over frosting to dab on candy to fasten it to your house or "garden yard". Use the red and green piping gel to outline your windows, doors, sidewalk, and Christmas lights around the eaves of the roof. Make snowmen out of marshmallows and pretzels sticks. Dab on gel for eyes & mouth. Make fences with pretzels or gumdrops. Layer vanilla wafers for shingles on your roof & a large gumdrop or marshmallow for a chimney. Be creative, but most of all have fun!
Step 7: Take a picture of your Christmas Cottage creation for your scrapbook and clean up your area! Gently ease into your box to take home and enjoy!
Our Christmas Cottages usually last about 3 days before they get gobbled up! But the best part of this is now you know how to make them and can create another!
Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!
“Postscript” = I found Kellogg’s Pop-tart Toaster Pastries in Gingerbread Flavor at Walmart this past Christmas (2011). So yummy! The gingerbread flavor wasn’t too strong, but just right and the frosting is on the inside, so they would be very appropriate for making Christmas Cottages!