Christmas is not only the time to decorate obnoxiously or pretend like all of a sudden you can sing like Mariah because it is a Christmas song, but it is also for treats treats treats. I mean I am sorry, but Halloween candy has nothing on the myriad of delightful yummies that come out doing our country’s favorite holiday. And what goodie is most associated with Christmas…….if you guessed a gingerbread house, then you are correct! I mean, come on, a house made of food? What else is there?
Of course I turned what could have been just a simple, sweet moment of decorating the little house with my boys into a mad house of loud, wild, school aged children hopped up on sugar; twenty-one children to be exact. What was I thinking, obviously I wasn’t. But you know what, it actually turned out great thanks to the amazing moms that helped me out (Kristi, Sarah, Michelle, Stephanie C., and Nicole).
I have been wanting to do this for a couple of years now ever since my neighbor Sarah invited my eldest to her daughter’s gingerbread party. I had it all planned out and the best part about the whole thing was the decorations were already there (you can see my blog post on Christmas decorations). I just needed tables, chairs, and the tools for the houses.
I went with the simplest method and the least amount of gingerbread aka graham crackers possible, 4 per house. Some people online chose to use hot glue to assemble their house, which is likely more efficient and stable, but on the slight chance that some “Curious George” would try to eat the house I decided it would be better to go with the traditional Royal icing (you can find the recipe on the container of meringue powder or you can buy pre-mixed which can be found on Amazon). I started with the pre-mixed, just add water package from Amazon, but it was used up quite quickly so I went old school (powdered sugar and meringue powder). Because I needed so much of it, I copied the Amazon packing idea and pre-made the dry mix the night before and put it in Ziploc gallon bags and just added water as needed the next day.
A few tips:
- Royal icing dries out quickly so keep it covered in plastic or be prepared to keep adding water.
- To fill the baggies, place baggie in cup and fold over edges.
- Tie baggies in knot and don’t cut the corners until right before the kids are ready to start decorating
- Royal Icing can be made as thin as a glaze or thick as glue so add water slowly when you want it in glue form which is the case for this project
- You can put the icing on a plate for assembling the houses and just dip the edges of the graham cracker into it. (That idea came from my mother in-law who helped me knock 24 houses out in no time. Thanks Oma!)
- If they don’t look perfect (who cares really) you can add extra icing to the flawed edges and just call it “extra snow”
I also made 2 – Ingredient homemade hot chocolate and white hot chocolate (that wasn’t ready until after guests went home). Just chocolate morsels and milk. O.k. o.k. I added vanilla and a bit of powdered sugar because I used semi-sweet chocolate chips.
It was so amazing watching those kids take to decorating like architects. I mean they were no joke. I am pretty sure 60% of the children made houses that would make mine look like a child did it. Then, of course, there were the kids who were building a house in their stomachs. It was a fun site. I decorated the table with my favorite go to construction paper roll which I have had for 3 years. And let’s just take a moment of silence as this event pretty much finished my roll…………..o.k. silence over. I used that last little bit of some leftover wrapping paper as a runner and it added a candy cane seal to my simplistic layout.
Finally, who would I be if I had a party without baked goods. I found some amazing recipes on my Pinterest and in my newest obsession, Southern Living. I made 3 different types of cookies, one of which was fancy and cursed myself when I began adding the fine detailed holly to that cookie (it was really delish) and totally hijacked a batch of sugar cookies Oma made for my children (Oma saved me again!). As a prize for eating and decorating with candy, they got cookies! Oh yeah, I sent kids home on a cloud made of jumping jelly beans. It was a wonderful sugar-filled day.
*Photography by Stephanie Chesboro