As you may recall from my posts on Gingerbread House Decorating Party year 1 and year 2, we have traditionally had some issues with this amazing annual event that my wife likes to organize. We have had houses falling down. We have had walls and roofs breaking. We have run out of time, money, and energy. We have been up till the wee hours of the morning, covered in thick frosting and shouting non-Christmasy words at pieces of gingerbread. In short, there was a learning curve.
But this year! Oh, this year! This year we knew that it was going to take up to a week to prepare these damned things, so we started earlier. We were baking gingerbread on Monday and Tuesday. 10 houses meant 10 batches of gingerbread, and 20 pans to bake, not counting the little gingerdudes that we made out of the leftover scraps. It meant hours and hours of baking, and then cooling, before we could even attempt to put any houses together. And, for a day or two, it meant trying to remember the recipe for gingerbread.
No, I’m not an idiot (quiet, you in the back!), so I know that there are trillions of gingerbread recipes available to me online at the stroke of a few keys, but see we really liked the one we used last year, and were not so fond of the original first year recipe. But which one was the good one?! With all of our cookbooks opens and all of our browser tabs set to every possible recipe site known to the internet, my wife and I studied and furrowed our brows, trying to recall which exact combination of ingredients made the sturdy, non-crumbling houses that we liked so well. It took a while, but eventually the light bulb went off and we were set to go.
Wednesday and Thursday were wall erecting days, with Friday reserved for roof placement. We learned in year one that you cannot put the roof onto a gingerbread house with wet wall-frosting. Well, I mean you can. We did. But the house will collapse. And nobody’s got time (or ingredients) to bake extra gingerbread on Friday. I am proud to say that not a single house fell down this year. At all. Even a little. These were mighty structures, built to withstand the hands of 4-year-olds.
Of course the gingerbread is the most time-consuming and technically important part of the project, but really the fun begins with the candy. We got so much candy that our community room smelled like Wonka’s factory. I would not have been surprised to see an Oompa-Loompa wander by on his way to the chocolate river. We had M&Ms, Skittles, Nerds, Necco Wafers, Nonpareils, Jellybeans, Junior Mints, Bottle Caps, Mini-Jawbreakers, Fruit Slices, Gummi Everythings, Froot Loops, Cocoa Puffs, Golden Grahams, Dots, After Dinner Mints, York Peppermint Pieces, Rock Chocolates, Sour Sticks, Peeps, Hershey’s Kisses, Mini Candy Canes, Old Fashioned Candies, Twizzlers, Ice Cream Cones, and probably a few more items that I am forgetting. It was
Tenor Dad kid heaven.
The children did a great job on their houses this year. Normally we see some edible masterpieces with a great side or two, but this year people went all out on their whole houses. We saw beautiful yards with fountains, birds, and trees. People added chimneys, stained glass windows, and other features that could not be contained in a single photograph. Next year we are going to get a lazy susan and video each house in the round as it spins, because that is really the only way to capture the glory of these incredible creations. Seriously, it was nuts.
I will leave you with photos of the finished houses, but I will also end by still being excited that this party went off without a hitch. Nobody dropped their house on the ground. No structural collapse of any kind. It was almost like we were getting good at this. I can’t wait for next year!
Editor’s Note: Ruby was not finished with her house at the end of the party, which is why it looks sparse. Also, one of the invited kids didn’t show up, leaving an extra house at the end, which is how I ended up with one. Also, I am my own editor.