Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Play and Eat: Gingerbread House Decorating Party!

Gingerbread House Decorating Party! Say that five times fast. But no matter whether you stumble over saying it or not, this spells fun. How do I know, you ask? 'Cause I had it and did it, and it was awesome. Allow me to share.
My completed gingerbread house
You may not know, but in my pre-mommy days, I was a high school math teacher. I taught 9th grade Algebra I. Oh yes I did. So, I think that pretty much sums up that I have a technical mind and I'm a glutton for punishment. So of course I decided to throw a gingerbread house decorating party for four of my friends and I (along with our children, all of whom are 14 months and younger), with me providing the gingerbread pieces and icing and they providing the assorted goodies for decorating.

Now, I'm not going to lie, there was some work involved in this endeavor, but it's the kind of work that I like. I enjoyed designing the house pieces, making sure that the dimensions would make a workable house. I liked making a flavorful dough that would not only be sturdy but taste good, too. (You can find the recipe here.) And I liked inviting everyone to come be creative with me. There's nothing better than being creative besides being creative with others.
The template, taped together for reference
So if you are like me, a technically-minded masochist then this is right up your alley. And if you think this just sounds like fun and you want to push yourself, do it. You won't be sorry. We all had a blast, and the kids even behaved and had fun, too. It was truly a great day.

Now, I did check to make sure my friends didn't mind their creations showing up on the blog but I didn't check about their names, so I'll just call them by their first initial. I had S, A, T, and L over at my house, but before they arrived, I snapped this picture of my set up.
Ready to build
I sorted the pieces and labeled them for ease of building. I also made a few extra of each piece so that if one broke or if the pieces just weren't lining up, they could always grab for another one.

When they arrived, we chatted a bit and then got down to building. We built our houses on scrap pieces of cardboard. If you have the time and the icing, the board will get covered, so it doesn't have to be fancy. And if you don't have the time or the icing, you can always just trim the board to a smaller size so you see less of the cardboard.

So first you start with the walls. You want to "glue" (with the icing) the walls down to the board as well as to each other. During this first step, you may need some structural support, so we used glass tumblers to help brace the walls while they dried. I suggest letting the walls dry at least ten minutes before attaching the roof, to preserve the structural integrity.
A reinforces an edge. See the tumbler as support?
T attaches the front of her house
But while it's drying, you can start decorating your walls or your roof. Need some inspiration, check out what we did!
L used Smarties as a cobblestone path
S used foil to make a pond
T used sprinkles to mimic snow and dot candy to mimic lights
A used slivered almonds as shingles on her roof and made a bow for her wreath out of Twizzlers
I made a snowman out of icing covered Cracker Jack
I made a sled (or tried to) out of pretzels and peppermints
I stole L's idea and used Smarties as a sidewalk and made a fence out of pretzels
I made shingles out of Wheat Chex and strands of lights out of Twizzlers
The great thing about doing this in a group was that we were able to steal each other's good ideas and incorporate them into our own houses. This way, you don't have to be super creative all on your own, you can use your friends' creative minds, too! It was also fun to see what candy each person brought because there were some that I would have never thought of but which turned out to be great additions to our houses.

I'd love to hear your ideas for decorating, so please share your favorite ways to adorn gingerbread. I need to get started thinking about next year! And for those of you that did this event (either with me or on your own) I'd love to hear your experiences.


  1. These are SO cute! You should have seen ours, lol. It was definitely decorated by a 2 and 4 year old. :) A great idea, Christina! Hope we can make it next year.

  2. I loved being a part of this! It was fun to devote some time to a creative endeavor (kind of rare when you have a 14 month old!) and now we can admire the house all month long. Thanks for hosting such a successful gingerbread house party!!


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