InStyle Decorates a Gingerbread House with Alice + Olivia’s Stacey Bendet—Plus, Her Expert Decorating Tips!

InStyle Decorates a Gingerbread House with Alice + Olivia’s Stacey Bendet—Plus, Her Expert Decorating Tips!
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Is there anything this girl can't do? Stacey Bendet, CEO & Creative Director of Alice + Olivia has a way of making everything she touches seem magical. To wit: her all-white, loft-style showroom, complete with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, on West 14th Street overlooks the Hudson River. But it's not just the view, inside, paper mache doves hang from the ceiling and tables are dotted with loads of white candelabras with red roses. And it's not all surface and things. Stacey embodies her brand, living and breathing its whimsical nature with every project she takes on. In between running a hugely successful company and being a wife and mother to her two young daughters, and practicing an hour of Ashtanga yoga every morning, Stacey still finds time to get crafty.

Sarah Balch for InStyle.com
"I've been making gingerbread houses with my girls for about 4 years,” Stacey tells me. “My friend Dylan Lauren of Dylan’s Candy Bar has a great gingerbread set, which makes it really easy if you don't want to build it from scratch," she adds. “I also like to supplement with a lot of extra candy because it's so much fun to have my kids just pile it on and get creative. If I am making one that I want to look a little neater, I cover the whole roof with icing and then create a pattern to match on both sides,” she shares.

It just so happens to be that Stacey’s go-to motif is nothing short of amazing. “Black-and-white looks really pretty, but I also love the crazy colorful ones that my girls make.” As for Stacey's gingerbread house-making outfit, she usually opts for a long collarless blazer ($398, aliceandolivia.com) and a slim boot cut pant ($275, aliceandolivia.com).

Sarah Balch for InStyle.com
And, in order to make this sometimes messy project a little more streamlined, Stacey always has a plan: “If I am doing this with my girls, then I make sure everything is completely set up before hand—and I would say that 5 or less kids is a good size group for this kind of project.”

But, you don't need to have kids to try this at home, you just need to be one at heart.

More expert tips on gingerbread house decorating, straight from Stacey:
1. Always be prepared.
2. You can never have too much candy.
3. Decide on your theme, it’s good to have a color palette.
4. Curate your candy around your theme and have a pattern set.
5. Go with the pile-on route–just get tons and tons of candy and frosting and layer it on, but make sure your frosting placement is clean.
6. Decorate around the gingerbread house, so you have a little scene.
7. When making your gingerbread house, also decorate some gingerbread cookies. This way, the kids can eat those right away, instead of the house you worked so hard on.

Watch the GIF below to see how our gingerbread house came to life—plus, read on to shop the candy we used!

Sarah Balch for InStyle.com
Shop the Candy:
Licorice candy sticks, $14 for 80, economycandy.com; Champagne Bubbles, $7 per pound, economycandy.com; Diamond Salt Licorice, $6 per pound, economycandy.com; Kookaburry Australian Licorice, $6 per pound, economycandy.com; Licorice wheels, $4 per pound, economycandy.com

PHOTOS: Celebrities wearing Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet

 
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