I often claim to be the least Pinteresty mom ever. Last winter I planned a playdate to decorate gingerbread houses. When we found out that the kits may contain nuts (which we needed to avoid due to allergies in the group), I decided to try making the houses myself, but advised my group to have very low expectations (and said we could decorate gingerbread people if it didn’t work).
Prepping the dough: Night #1
Our playdate was planned for a Saturday. The Monday before, I used this recipe and made the dough. It needs to stay refrigerated at least 2 hours (and up to 3 days). The house construction was what I was most leery of, so I found this pattern. I needed to make 3 houses and probably should have doubled the dough recipe, but since I hadn’t, I made the roofs much shorter to ensure I would have enough dough. Since I was creating the houses for 2 1/2 year olds, I didn’t think they would mind if the houses were small with a non-authentic roof. My plan was to put the houses together the following night, so I prepped the royal icing; the “glue” for the houses.
Creating the houses: Night #2
The dough rolled out easily, I placed my pattern cut outs on top, cut my pieces, and baked them as directed. They cooled quickly so decided to venture onto step #3, putting the houses together. I set low but hopeful expectations thinking the end result would be “I am so bad at this stuff, why did I try this?” but it was actually fun! I wouldn’t have won any competitions, but I got the job done. I followed the instructions and utilized the advice to use canned goods to help balance and set the structure of the house while the icing dried. Last but not least, I put the roofs on. I am not sure our 2 ½ years old really cared what they looked like, but I was pretty happy with how they turned out.
The adults had just as much fun as the kids decorating them. Everyone brought different candy (mini marshmallows, jelly beans, candy canes, different cereals, dry pasta) and we kept it organized by keeping the different candies in the compartments of a muffin tin.
How healthy is that?
Since I am a dietitian I sometimes hear, “You promote an activity with all that candy?” Decorating gingerbread houses is all about crafting with candy, not eating it. And while I can’t say the kids didn’t have their share, we reinforced what the candy was there for, I put out a big bowl of fruit which they devoured, and we ate lunch right after, so no one left over sugared.
Would I do it again?
I actually really enjoyed it so, yes, if I have time, I will do it again. And a quicker option might be to try out these graham cracker houses! You can also purchase allergy friendly gingerbread house kits, but we hadn’t planned that far in advance.
What are your gingerbread house traditions?