a gingerbread house decorated with dried fruit and nuts

How to Make a Gingerbread House with Dried Fruits and Nuts

Here’s how to make a gingerbread house the old-fashioned way – using natural decorations like dried fruits and nuts. These deliciously awesome gingerbread house decorating ideas come from a newspaper article featuring Lorena Mariani decades ago, and they are fabulous! 

Mariani family Gingerbread House decorating ideas using dried fruits and nuts

Our friend James Collier created a modern-day version of the Mariani family classic, so you can create this fun gingerbread house at home. We think you’ll enjoy creating this fun holiday house too. Plus, you can do some snacking while you build!

Here’s how a Prune Grower decorates an Old-Fashioned Gingerbread House

The Mariani Family has been an innovator in agriculture for generations, preserving family traditions alongside a wide variety of fresh fruit. Lorena Mariani created her own take on a holiday gingerbread house, building hers out of dried apricots, raisins, pears, and prunes. We’ve created our own nod to Lorena’s tradition, and set it as the centerpiece of a delicious charcuterie spread.

Mariani family Gingerbread House decorating ideas using dried fruits and nuts

How to Make a Gingerbread House: 

The base for our holiday chateau is a store-bought gingerbread house kit. Sizes vary by kit, so the measurements here are rough, but follow these steps to create your own. If your kit doesn’t include royal icing, it’s worth an extra 10 minutes to make your own!

We used a variety of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, spices and charcuterie meats and cheeses. Feel free to get creative and use our suggestions as a staring point to create your own masterpiece!

How long to let the gingerbread house dry before decorating

Here’s a helpful tip: Decorate the walls of your gingerbread house – and let them dry – BEFORE you assemble. That makes decorating and placing special design ideas way easier!

Mariani family Gingerbread House decorating ideas using dried fruits and nuts

Deliciously Awesome Ideas For Gingerbread House Decorating

Need deliciously fun ideas for gingerbread house decorating? You've come to the right place! These incredibly awesome gingerbread house decorating ideas come from a newspaper article featuring Lorena Mariani decades ago, and they are fabulous!  We think you'll enjoy creating this fun holiday house too.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Course Appetizer, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Chef Created, Heritage Recipes, Holiday, Kid Friendly
Servings 1 servings
Calories 879 kcal


  • store-bought gingerbread kit or your own
  • 1-2 batches of royal icing and food coloring if desired
  • 20-30 California prunes
  • 20-30 California pitted dates
  • dried apricots or pears
  • Nuts: walnuts pistachios and/or pecans
  • sliced almonds for shingles
  • pomegranate arils or dried cranberries for Christmas lights
  • fresh rosemary or lavender for trees/landscaping
  • cinnamon sticks for logs
  • powdered sugar for snow
  • homemade truffles or sugar plums for snow people
  • your favorite charcuterie ingredients for around the house


For the gingerbread house roof:

  • Sliced almonds make great shingles. We toasted 1 cup (100g) of them at 400°F for 8-10 minutes. Spread yours in a single layer for even coloring, or leave small piles to create varying shades of color, then let cool. A small dab of royal icing on the back of each will glue them to gingerbread roof. Top the chimney stack with more of the icing, then cut slices from a whole prune to create smoke stacks. Line the roof ridge with whole prunes.
    roof of a gingerbread house decorated with prune and almonds

For the walls of your holiday house:

  • Start with 20 pitted dates, sliced into quarters, lengthwise. Run a small line of royal icing along the back of each to adhere it to a wall, creating horizontal rows of date “logs.” Slice more dates as needed to cover all walls.
    Mariani family Gingerbread House decorating ideas using dried fruits and nuts
  • Alternatively, you can spread a thin layer of icing over the entire wall, then press the dates into that. Decorate with small drizzles of icing to create a buildup of snow.

For the gingerbread house chimney:

  • We drew the outline of ours first, then filled it in with the royal icing. We used walnuts, pistachios, pepitas, and sunflower seeds to create the stonework, but you can use any mix of dried nuts and seeds here.
    the side of a gingerbread house and chimney decorated with prunes and nuts
  • For an extra touch, sprinkle a little of the ground pistachio (see landscaping below).

For the gingerbread house landscaping:

  • Grind 1 cup (125g) of roasted pistachios in a food processor, creating a course dust. Use this as the base of the landscaping around the house and walkway. Line the walkway with slices of prunes and dried apricots, and scatter whole prunes as landscape stones, and as a base for rosemary twig trees.
    landscaping a gingerbread house with dried fruit and nuts
  • Crush any remaining toasted almonds in your hand and sprinkle in piles to create mulched areas. Halve two more dates, then use those as planters to hold the stems of a dried lavender garden.
    landscaping a gingerbread house with a tree made out of rosemary

Extra touches for your gingerbread house:

  • For the snowman, we rolled prune and cocoa balls in coconut and powdered sugar, then decorated with cinnamon stick arms and a dried apricot nose.
    Mariani family Gingerbread House decorating ideas using dried fruits and nuts
  • Dried apricots also added a little warmth to our windows. We sliced ours thin, then cut the edges to square them, and layered icing on them to create panes.
  • Pomegranate arils make bright and festive lights around the outside of the house–we simply spread a little icing onto the eaves, then pressed them into place.
  • Cut a few cinnamon sticks in half and tie together to create a cute firewood bundle.

For the snow:

  • Gently pour ½ cup (65g) of powdered sugar into a small flour sifter, then tap the sifter to dust the entire scene.
  • Step back, and enjoy your creation!



To make a Gingerbread House Centerpiece:

Surround it with charcuterie or treats for an impressive holiday display.


Calories: 879kcalCarbohydrates: 233gProtein: 8gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 9mgPotassium: 2383mgFiber: 25gSugar: 166gVitamin A: 1576IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 141mgIron: 3mg
Keyword baking, decorating, gingerbread house, holiday house
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Did you try this recipe? Maybe you’ve got a favorite recipe using California Prunes that you’d like to share with us? Snap a pic and share it on social using #caprunes.

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