A few years ago, I was introduced to the beauty (and deliciousness) of homemade gingerbread houses by Aimee from Simple Bites. In her characteristically detailed style, she wrote a series of posts on making gingerbread houses– keeping the process simple and setting everyone up for success.
Since then, decorating gingerbread houses with friends has been a yearly tradition of ours.
The first year, we invited a few friends over and decorated two houses around our kitchen island.
The next year, we decided to bring in a few more friends and so we invited our preschool co-op group over to decorate a few more pretty little houses. It was messy, chaotic, preschool fun.
We kept with tradition again today and for the third year in a row, invited friends over to join us for a gingerbread house party.
Today, nine children gathered around our big farmhouse table and iced and candied and sugar-overdosed together.
Honestly, it was a LOT of fun! I have no idea how much candy my kids ate, but I do know that their houses turned out great.
We have gone from two houses to six in the past few years, but every year I’ve followed Aimee’s gingerbread recipe and step-by-step assembly instructions.
I did do one thing differently this year though– I nixed the chimney and base from the houses, and printed the template off at 75% instead of full-size. Doing this meant that I was able to make all six houses out of one batch of dough.
Because inviting a bunch of kids over, especially to get covered with flour or load up on sweets or learn a new skill, is one of my favorite things in the world, I thought I would share some of the tips I’ve learned since hosting a few of these spread icing/apply sweets/run around like crazy people parties.
Hosting a Gingerbread House Party– 5 Tips to Make Your Party a Success
Here are five things you can do to help your gingerbread house party go smoothly. The first one is super important, and the rest are strong suggestions to keep the stress and the mess to a minimum.
1.Building the houses the night before is a MUST.
Whether or not you make the dough from scratch, you should assemble your houses the night before your party to give the icing plenty of time to set. Once the icing is completely hard, you will not have to worry about the houses collapsing from little fingers pressing M&M’s into the roof.
2. Roll out craft paper on the table or use a cheap plastic tablecloth for easier clean-up.
Whenever we do a big craft project with friends, I always roll out paper down the length of the table. No sticky spots on the table afterwards, and most of the crumbs get thrown away with the paper.
(I stock up on IKEA’s rolls of craft paper every time I visit).
3. Set out icing in bowls and bags.
For younger kids, spreading icing on the roof and the sides of the house is much easier when they can just dip a spatula in a bowl. The bags of icing were mainly for the moms to help with and for the older kids to use.
4. Put out a tray of food in addition to the candy.
This is the first year I’ve done this, but since our party was right around lunchtime and wanted to at least have some normal food available too. Having some non-sugar laden foods helped to balance the crazy and prevent stomach-aches from over-indulging.
This tray took about ten minutes to prepare since all I have to do was pull out items from the fridge and pantry. Easy and really yummy. (Also, any reason to eat this ranch).
5. Let them do it.
It’s so easy to want to micromanage, isn’t it? But unless my kids actually need help, I try to let them try things on their own. It’s a healthy mix of fun and challenge. It’s also the only way I get to chat with my mommy friends.
Let your kids use too much icing for that one little gumdrop. Don’t fret over the wonky chimney or complete lack of vision. They are having fun and really, isn’t that what matters?
Do you make gingerbread houses with your kids? Ever considered inviting another family to join you?
What is your favorite tradition to do with friends each Christmas season?