We know people who roll out dough and bake sheets of gingerbread to make quaint little cottages. But when we were little, we used cup- or pint-sized milk cartons as the base, with graham crackers stuck on the outside. So much easier. And who actually eats the finished product after a few weeks anyway? Our version used two small milk cartons cleaned out and then glued together to make a house. We then used icing to stick graham crackers on the sides and top slopes to make walls and a roof. We have a near-Christmas birthday, and this method made for not one but two very popular birthday parties...
We bought pointed, sugar ice cream cones and placed them upside down in the "yard" as evergreen trees, and of course gummy rings were wreaths, etc. But we love the pretzel windows on the house above (which is, obviously, made from scratch and not from graham crackers).
If you do want to attempt a house from scratch, try Faith's Gingerbread Houses: The Apartment Therapy Versions templates from a couple of years ago. And we recommend starting small; it's easier to keep a structure standing if there's less empty room in the middle.
Or, try the milk carton trick.
Here are a couple of from-scratch recipes:
Have you ever made a gingerbread house? What's your technique?
Related: Sara Kate's Tussle with Royal Icing (You'll need quite a bit of this for decorating.)
(Image: Flickr member terren in Virginia, licensed under Creative Commons)