From trial and error, here are some basic gingerbread tips that I have to offer:
1. always bake using flat pans. Flat. I have a set used only for gingerbread baking. I hand-wash them so that they don't get warped. Wonky pans can lead to curved or not-flat gingerbread pieces.
(This pattern is from our 2013 "Whoville" themed pieced. It was "Suessy".)
3. Flip your gingerbread over when it comes right out of the oven, and press it flat. It can take it, don't worry. This will help keep your edges from curling up on you.
THEN lay it out to cool and harden.
4. You don't have to be fancy. I know people who buy "special tools" or end caps for icing, etc. Sure that stuff comes in handy, and can make your life soooo much easier in some cases! In other cases, it's okay to wing it. Use your judgement and don't be afraid to break the mold, if you will.
While making our first gingerbread houses, we didn't use couplers or
"official" pastry bags.
We use whatever we have on hand to prop up items for drying etc.
In this pic we ran out of rice cereal, so we used shredded wheat instead. Same difference.
5. Lastly, have a savory food around to help cut the sugar. Yes, I know you're MAKING a gingerbread house not eating one, but the sugar in the air can still get to you. Gingerbuilders enjoys chili, chinese food, cheeseballs, and wine. Wine and friends will also help the process. This hobby should be fun!
I'll add more tips as I think of them. Meanwhile, ENJOY yourself and be creative. It will turn out great!