Christmas, Party Ideas, Traditions

12 Days of Christmas: Gingerbread House Contest

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-12 Days of Christmas Traditions-
Day 3: Kendra
“Gingerbread House Contest”
 I’m Kendra- the youngest of the sisters (that’s me on the right). I was roped into sharing my favorite family tradition with you today . . .
Since I can remember, my family has always made a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve. It was always a group effort and we worked together on one big house until a couple of years ago when my older sisters started getting married and bringing their husbands to the family party. It was too hard for all of us to work on just one house, so we decided to make lots of little houses. We broke off into teams and started building . . . well, everyone was so proud of their creations that we decided to vote on which house was the best. Every team had a chance to explain their house and why they thought it was the best.
People went crazy on their houses! There were drawbridges, trap doors, a “mother-in-law” house (that son-in-law totally scored points with my mom on that one!), and one even had a gingerbread nativity scene set up! So funny!
After all the teams were finished, we had silent voting . . . you could vote for any house but your own (we put little paper numbers in front of each house).
I am proud to announce that I won that year (yes, this picture is like 5 years old and that’s why I look so young). The winners got to split a bottle of sparkling cider and take pride in the fact that they won. It is such a fun tradition and many of us will draw up our gingerbread house plans months in advance.
Here are some things we do in our family to make this tradition work for us:

-Use Graham Crackers
Our mom used to spend hours in the kitchen baking all the separate gingerbread pieces for us to build our house, but to make it easier for her and make us be more creative, we have started using graham crackers. Each team gets a sleeve of graham crackers (about 10 graham cracker sheets) and they can use it however they want. It’s hilarious what people come up with.

-Ration out candy
We use all kinds of candy (see list below). But to make sure that one team doesn’t use up all of one candy, we divide it evenly in bags beforehand. That way everyone gets the same amount.

-Do as individuals or teams
Both are fun- do whatever is best for your family.

-Set a time limit
We have some perfectionists in our family who would build and decorate all night long, so set a timer. :) We usually go for 20-30 minutes.

-Make a base for each gingerbread house before the contest
It makes it much easier to move the houses around (and for the final judging). We usually just take pieces of cardboard (about 12″x12″) and cover them with foil.

-Here are some of our favorite candies to use for decorating:
Necco Wafers, mini marshmallows, gumdrops, Andes Mints, crushed Butterfingers, peppermints, M&M’s, Skittles, Starbursts, sliced Snickers, nuts, Spree candies, Pez, Chicklets, pretzel sticks, shaped pretzels, licorice pieces, red hots, chocolate bar slices, Nerds, rock candy, thin licorice ropes, shredded coconut, Lifesavers, Froot Loops, Cheerios, large marshmallows, Tootsie Rolls, gummy bears,

-Royal Icing
This is the glue that holds it all together! Here is the recipe we use (and we multiply this amount by however many teams there are . . . each team gets their own batch):

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites, beaten

In a bowl, sift together sugar and cream of tartar. Using electric mixer, beat in 2 beaten egg whites for about 5 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to hold its shape.

Well, that about covers it!
Have a Merry Christmas!

Love,
Kendra

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