SLIDESHOW

Holy Holiday PC! It's a Computer in a Gingerbread House

What's better than a fresh-baked gingerbread house? A gingerbread house stuffed full of piping-hot PC components.

How to Build a Gingerbread PC

Happy holidays from the PCWorld Labs crew! To celebrate the season, we spent the day whipping up the kind of computer that Hansel and Gretel would love. It's a fully functioning PC in a real gingerbread-house case, and now we're sharing the secret recipe with you. Click through to see how we did it.

Laying the Foundation

Assemble all your components before you start encasing them in gingerbread. To save space, we cobbled together the guts of the machine from a Mini-ATX motherboard, a 300GB Kingston solid-state drive, 4GB of RAM, and a 1.6GHz Intel Atom 230 CPU running 32-bit Windows 7. The cardboard box serves as a structure to help keep our house together.

Raw Materials

Once you've picked out the perfect PC, preheat your oven and prepare for some serious baking. You'll need to make gingerbread strong enough to withstand the heat from the components, so we recommend this Joy of Cooking recipe. Bake extra batches, just to be sure; Senior Editor Melissa Riofrio saved the day with multiple marathon-baking sessions. To make things easier, measure your frame before baking to ensure that your pans are large enough. Don't forget to leave holes for your ports, power cords, and optical drives.

Raise the Roof

Glue the gingerbread panels to the cardboard frame with a strong, heat-resistant adhesive. We used a hot-glue gun to ensure that our gingerbread holds strong through the holiday season--but if you're bold enough to attempt an edible gingerbread case, you'll have to mix up an extrathick batch of royal icing.

Sweeten the Deal

Once your gingerbread walls are secure, power up the PC one last time to confirm that everything is working properly--once you start laying down frosting, there's no turning back. Feel free to deck the case with whatever combination of candy and icing suits your fancy. If your icing is too thin or runny, leave it open near the case fan for a few minutes to thicken it up.

Deck the Halls

Grab a few disposable icing bags and fill them. Sure, you can ice the house the old-fashioned way with a spatula and some time, but trust us: It's better this way.

Work the Crowd

If you're building this masterpiece in the office, the smell of gingerbread warming up from the heat of your CPU is certain to attract coworkers eager to help. Invite them to drop whatever "work" they may be busying themselves with and to contribute to the cause; nothing quells an office quarrel faster than a hot-glue gun and a handful of gumdrops.

Light It Up

Once the decorations have dried, reconnect the cables and power up the PC to verify that everything works. Download some appropriately festive holiday software, and you're good to go. Congratulations: You've just created a PC so fun and so impractical that it can be rivaled only by a computer built inside a jack-o'-lantern.