Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper. Put the sugar, syrup, treacle, spices, zest and 2 tbsp water in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat.
Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is bubbling. Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until melted.
Put the flour and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl, pour over the treacle mixture and stir until well combined. Form into a ball and leave to cool.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Place half between 2 pieces of baking paper and roll out to a thickness of 5mm. Using a small cutter, cut out gingerbread people and transfer to the trays. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Use a skewer to make 2 holes in the gingerbread people’s tummies for the ribbon or string.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Leave for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Thread together with ribbon to create gingerbread garlands.