While an awesome tradition, making gingerbread houses from scratch is quite a task:) Would suggest making the gingerbread (and btw you cut the pieces by pattern before you bake) days before you actually sit and decorate. And probably a good idea if you make extra pieces as the gingerbread you make from scratch soooooooooo much better than the box-kits.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy them in a LARGER than life way is Gingerbread Village in Seattle (HERE)
Gingerbread Recipe and Templates (HERE)
I do think the kits are the way to go, and I always buy extra candy for decorating. Top 5 gingerbread box-kits (HERE).
And one of the EASIEST to make, is a gingerbread house out of graham crackers! Check it out…