Every year for the last 5 years, I have made a candy castle. This year the girls were able to make their own. Instead of making a castle, we made a candy village.
I always wanted to make a gingerbread house, but didn't have the time or stamina. My aunt had given me instructions for a candy castle. The directions called for Styrofoam and a bunch of specific candies. The entire thing was expensive (but fabulous). After the first year I got creative and started using house hold items. Things like boxes, toilet paper rolls, ice cream cones and cardboard. I also buy cheap icing in the can, but I usually have to make more (it takes a lot).
One last thing. Use coconut for snow, it hides a lot mistakes.