The history of gingerbread can be traced to 922 AD, followed by flourishes of interest and intricate designs and holiday traditions forming from the 13th-17th centuries in Europe. The basic ingredients of the treat have not changed much since then, featuring flavors of ginger, cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon and sweetened with honey, sugar or molasses.

The art of decorating a gingerbread house, however, is an artform that ranges from simple designs to extravagant creations. Over the year, chefs at Sodexo have joined in the fun of building and creating amazing gingerbread houses.

One of those is the gingerbread US Capitol the company has sponsored in past years under the culinary leadership of Sodexo executive chef Fred Johnson. His passion project involved 378 hours of planning, baking, and building. 110 pounds of icing, 175 pounds of gingerbread dough, and 315 cups of flour were used in the process, with the end result being a 6-foot-wide gingerbread replica of the US Capitol that was on display at the US House of Representatives until January 3 of this year.

While most gingerbread houses may not be as ambitious, you can apply similar principles to yours to ensure success. Chef Johnson shares five tips for gingerbread houses in this slideshow.