Institute of Technology students build life-size gingerbread house

IOT’s life-size gingerbread house was the idea of Culinary Director Kevin Arnett (pictured). DANIEL LEON/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

The Institute of Technology is getting into the holiday spirit.

Over the weekend, culinary students put the finishing touches on a 10-foot tall gingerbread house located in the lobby of the school’s main building.

“We usually make small gingerbread houses every year during the holidays,” said Chef Kevin Arnett, IOT’s Culinary Director. “We decided this year that instead of making a bunch of small little ones, we would do a life size [version].”

Altogether, the house is made up of 750 pounds of gingerbread and 300 pounds of royal icing.

“You can smell it when you walk in,” said Arnett, a Christmas aficionado.

The house, however, wasn’t just a culinary project. Students from IOT’s technical department also came out and helped by constructing a plywood structure to serve as the foundation.

“It took them about a week to build the structure and then it took us another week to put the gingerbread on and decorate,” said Arnett.

In order to securely attach the gingerbread, students used the hard-drying royal icing. Decorations like garland, wreaths, lights, holiday-themed fabric, life-size nutcracker figures and a mini Christmas tree soon followed as the finishing touches.

Another unique detail is a robotic Santa Claus trying to wiggle his way out of the chimney to reach the glass of milk (hardened frosting) and cookies sitting on a corner table.

Arnett encourages visitors to stop by and see the finished product before it’s time to take it down.

“We would love the general public to come and see what we do here,” he said. “It’ll stay [up] through the end of the year. It’s actually built to where we can tear it apart. We’ll take all the gingerbread off and then next year we’ll put it back up in a completely different design.”

Daniel Leon
A native of Woodlake, Daniel Leon is a recent graduate of Fresno State with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. Daniel served as Sports Editor at The Collegian, Fresno State’s student-run newspaper, prior to joining the Roundup. Got a story idea? Email him at