Cook first 6 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add butter, stirring until melted.
Combine baking soda and 1 tablespoon water; stir into sugar mixture. Pour sugar mixture into a bowl; gradually add flour, beating at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric mixer until blended.
Divide dough into thirds. Roll one-third of dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface (chill remaining dough). Cut with a 5 1/2-inch gingerbread man cutter, and place on lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool 1 minute on pan; remove cookies to wire racks, and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining dough. Decorate as desired.