Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tips for Hosting a Gingerbread House Decorating Party

For the past few years we've gathered up a handful of friends for a party that's become a very anticipated event. We love our annual gingerbread house decorating party! I thought I'd share some tips for you so you might be inspired to have a little sweet fun for your family and friends.
We keep the guest list small so that we can have the party right here in our home, nice and cozy! Sunday afternoons work really well for us, after everyone's nap.

The Houses
The first year, I had no idea what I was doing, but I was really excited and had big plans. My husband made a template out of cardstock for me, two house shaped pieces, two roof pieces, and two wall pieces. I made six houses from homemade dough. They were beautiful, and the whole house smelled amazing. Would I do this again? Only if I had to make one or two. I can't even tell you how much dough I made. I think I started with a triple recipe and when that didn't make enough houses, I just kept making triple recipes until I got enough houses. It was crazy; I'm talking whole bottles of molasses and jars of cinnamon.
The following year, I just bought the kits. The next couple of years, I found them for two dollars a pop after Christmas. This year, we are making graham cracker houses. The kits are nothing to write home about; they don't taste great (especially if you get them cheap and wait a year to use them, gross), and sometimes they have sort of a cheesy design. So I figured we might as well go the cheaper route. Everyone's bringing a box of graham crackers, and we're planning to get a few of us together early to put them together so they can dry in time to decorate.
Cut squares of cardboard and cover with foil to build the houses on. If you're using a kit, they usually include icing.

The Food
Anyone that knows me knows that parties include food. Every year I've made a couple pots of chili, some bread or salad, and it's self serve. One year I did white chicken chili, and this year I might add a veggie version. Someone usually brings some cheese or tortilla chips, and it's a hit with everyone. For dessert it's always cookies, set out with some adorable napkins. No need for plates or forks!

The Decorating
Every one brings a bag of candy to share. Our favorites are gumdrops and big red gum (for shutters). I make a bunch of icing to stick candy on with. You can buy plastic decorating bags (sometimes the kits include them), or you can just use little ziploc baggies and snip the ends. Put a decorator bag out for each child. I try to have the table ready before guests arrive with bowls for candy. A plastic tablecloth makes clean-up easy, and I usually put a runner of brown paper down the center, because it looks pretty. For the candy, I try to use lots of different sizes of bowls. I love the look of vintage stuff for this; muffin tins work well too. The mini ones are good for tiny candy, like red hots. A box of wet wipes are good to have at the ready. Snacking on candy is encouraged!

This has become a very dear tradition for us. Since we've started this little event, we've added to our families and now have even more little ones to join in on the fun!


gina said...

You've got it down to a science, Shelly. A beautiful, sugary, delicious and delightful science!

Shelly said...

Thanks, Lady. I've enjoyed having you along for the journey!

Jamie B said...

Only one thing to say. Jealous. :) Enjoy girls, this sounds fantastic!

Mikaeel said...
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