13 Over-The-Top Gingerbread Houses

When it comes to decadent holiday decorations, gingerbread houses take the cake these days. From houses in the shape of tiki bars or the Henri Bendel store in New York City to an Occupy North Pole protest made entirely out of gingerbread and sugar, anything is possible.

Along with cookie decorating, caroling, and trimming the tree, gingerbread-house decorating is a long-standing tradition in many households. It also brings out the competitive nature of many people — who can produce a bigger, fancier, more elaborate creation? 

This year, perhaps you're keeping it simple, even using graham crackers in lieu of fresh-baked gingerbread cookies for the structure. Or, if you're a resident of the White House, you go all out, using more than 400 pounds of ingredients to create the white chocolate-covered manse with electrified lights in every room and a marzipan Bo, the Obamas' dog.

Whether you're decorating for fun or hosting a gingerbread decorating competition, it helps to think beyond your wildest dreams when playing with sugar, be it by creating a spa for reindeer fashioned out of gingerbread or a food truck serving up an array of holiday sweets. Here are 13 creations made entirely out of gingerbread and sugar to inspire and light the competitive fire in you this year. 

Click here to see the 13 Over-the-Top Gingerbread Houses Slideshow.

Click here for a recipe and template for making your own at home.