Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out any shapes you'd like. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until the gingerbread is lightly browned.

For the royal icing:

1 pound confectioner's sugar

2 large egg whites

Using an electric hand mixer or standing mixer, mix the egg whites into the sugar until the combination becomes a fluffy paste, like a thick marshmallow cream. Use a disposable pastry bag with a Wilton Star Tip #18 or a plastic freezer bag with the tip cut off one of the corners. Be careful not to cut the hole too big.

This icing can be refrigerated for about two days. Before use, it should be brought back to room temperature.

Maria Springer's Tips for Gingerbread House Decorating

Gingerbread house decoration is a blast and every house is a masterpiece. With Maria Springer's expert advice, the process can be even more fun for both kids and parents.

Fill up first: Candy and icing are too tempting for children (or parents) to avoid, says Springer, but the sugar rush damage can be minimalized by feeding children a filling meal before passing out M&Ms.

Pipe it: One of Springer's first lessons — probably the most challenging — involves the pastry bag. She helps her students hold the bags with the dominant hand on top, gently squeezing, while the other hand guides the bag across the gingerbread. Younger children sometimes have difficulty mastering the process — but they enjoy licking up the mess.

More, more, more: Springer subscribes to the "more is better" philosophy, often chiming, "You need more color on the house!" as she helps children pile additional candy on their roofs and "yards." Children, especially those who are politely hesitant to take too much candy to start, love the approach.

Cede control: As tempting as it may be to take over for shaky small hands, Springer encourages parents to let their children, even young ones, design and decorate the houses themselves. It's not the parents' "day out," she gently chides. When children take the lead, they have a great time and learn to trust themselves; and though the final products may be imperfect, they are adorable.