We had never made a gingerbread house before this year, so this is our first attempt. I used a kit because they are on sale right now at Target for just $7.99 (look in the bakery section); you can't even buy the bags of candy and baking ingredients for that price! It came with the house pieces, three different colors of icing, the candy, fondant, and three little figures--a snowman, Christmas tree, and gingerbread man.
Our 4-year-old says the gingerbread man is actually Caillou "because he doesn't have any hair." Maybe he has a point...
If you want to go all out and make a homemade gingerbread house this year, here are a few resources that may help:
The Ultimate Gingerbread House website has tons of information for beginners and advanced gingerbread house bakers (is that really a significant subpopulation of the world?). Check out this complex farm and barn...very appropriate for the Midwest.
A gingerbread recipe to get you baking!