Christmas lover transforms home in to a giant gingerbread house featuring Quality Street chocolates

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Mum-of-two Carmen said she loves how her house looks - and is already thinking of what decorations she can add next

A Christmas lover who loves decorating has transformed her home in to a giant gingerbread house in celebration of the festive season. Carmen Croxall, aged 34, spent two weeks decorating the front of her rented home in Exeter, Devon, to achieve what she describes as a “next level” Christmas look.

The design features Quality Street chocolates, snow, lollipops and, of course, gingerbread biscuits and icing. This is not the first time that the mum-of-two has adorned her home. She has dressed her home to suit several occasions over the last few years - including Halloween and a previous Christmas design.

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“I love decorating my house”

The latest design is complete with biscuit window frames, candy canes and gingerbread men. Croxall, who runs a props business, says around 70% of the house is made from recycled materials. The fake brickwork is made from water-resistant MDF and the chocolates are old milk cartons covered in cellophane. Her lollipop sticks are made from wooden dowel offcuts and an old drainage pipe and the pink icing is fabric leftover from a previous project and ball pit balls.

Croxall, who is the owner of the Prop Factory, completed the eye-catching design in just two weeks. The wet weather has proved to be a big test to how durable her decorations are, but she believes the gingerbread house is her best project yet.

 Carmen Croxall, 34, spent two weeks decorating the front of her rented home in Exeter, Devon, to look like a gingerbread house. Carmen Croxall, 34, spent two weeks decorating the front of her rented home in Exeter, Devon, to look like a gingerbread house.
Carmen Croxall, 34, spent two weeks decorating the front of her rented home in Exeter, Devon, to look like a gingerbread house. | James Dadzitis / SWNS

She said: "I love decorating my house. It all started in 2020 - I had an events company and had dressed events for eight years but, after nine months of not doing it, I had a huge void.

"At the same time, we changed our business and started selling products. I’d just sold my house and was due to move out too, so those three things led to my first crazy transformation. My new landlord said I could decorate so I did my whole house for Halloween and last Christmas, I did a pink kitsch theme with a festive Tyrannosaurus Rex outside. Now, I’ve gone next level.”

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“I’m really happy with how it looks”

Croxall says the project was “relatively inexpensive”, saying her biggest outlay was £300 for the Velcro. She said: "I didn’t spend too much as I managed to scrounge a lot from my work. The bricks are damaged MDF that we couldn’t use; the lollipop sticks are wooden dowel off cuts and an old drain pipe.

"The two main costs were the Velcro at £300 and wadding which made the snow at £90, plus a few new sheets of MDF. The snow is made from wadding. I put colourful cellophane over old milk cartons for the Quality Street chocolates but had to add clear cellophane over the top as the colourful sheets leaked in the rain.

Carmen Croxall, 34, has decorated the front of her rented home in Exeter, Devon, to look like a gingerbread house - including biscuits, icing, Quality Street chocolates, and lollipops.Carmen Croxall, 34, has decorated the front of her rented home in Exeter, Devon, to look like a gingerbread house - including biscuits, icing, Quality Street chocolates, and lollipops.
Carmen Croxall, 34, has decorated the front of her rented home in Exeter, Devon, to look like a gingerbread house - including biscuits, icing, Quality Street chocolates, and lollipops. | James Dadzitis / SWNS

"It’s all stuck on with very heavy duty velcro - each brick has enough velcro to hold up 28kg. I tested this theory for a few months prior to doing this and found it worked if the brick work behind them didn’t get wet.

"I had to cover the whole house so water couldn’t get to the real bricks, and I also used an air compressed staple gun to make a lattice between bricks. It went from an idea to a finished thing in just two weeks. I was in this zone where I was so focused on finishing it that I didn’t even appreciate it until it was done. I love it, I’m really happy with how it looks - but now that it’s done, I’m already thinking about what I can do next.”

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“My neighbours seem to be happy”

Croxall said that her neighbours like the look of her house, her children are indifferent and her landlord is yet to comment - though that’s usually a good sign. She said: "I’ve emailed my landlord pictures and told him what I’ve done. He hasn’t replied so normally that means he is fine. I think he just likes peace and quiet. My neighbours seem to be happy! They said that they liked it. I have a 13-year-old who isn’t impressed at all, and my three-year-old doesn’t seem that phased. I think he might be used to it.”

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