Take on the challenge
Have you ever tried to make a gingerbread house from scratch? It might sound challenging, but if you go slow and start small, I am sure anyone can build one with relative success! One of the reasons I LOVE Christmas is the lovely smell of spices and ginger in the holiday cookies and desserts. It is the time of the year that I go into a baking binge and as a result, our entire home is constantly smelling like a bakery. Just the other night, one of my daughters gave me a big hug before going to bed, and she said I smelled like gingerbread! Maybe it was because I was baking an industrial amount of gingerbread house panels enough to make 14 complete houses of various sizes and designs!
Always start small
A few years ago, I was a bit ambitious and tried my hands at building a gingerbread house from scratch. Instead of buying the ready-made kits with all the wall panels cut and baked for you, I like to bake my own. This way, I can find the house design I like from the internet or tweak it a bit to my liking instead of having to stick to the “standard” house from the kits, and I get to build a different house design every year! After a few fails, I finally found the perfect recipe for baking the walls and roofs of the house that are both sturdy to build with and yummy to eat (I bake also the bits and scraps of the dough and the entire family would be munching on them while we decorated)! The consistency of the “glue” is also key to keeping the house together, so here is the best gingerbread house glue I came across that is pretty much foolproof!
Make your own kit
Then, COVID happened just when we wanted to host our first gingerbread house decorating party, so we turned it into a virtual one. I baked all the panels and gathered some candies, packed them all to make my own kit, and have them delivered to friends. We connected online and had a virtual party with each family building their own house at home and it was a success! Since then, more and more friends of mine and our kids’ friends are requesting “The Kit” every Christmas, that is how I ended up baking 14 houses this year!! It is hard work, but also SO satisfying to see everyone enjoying this annual activity. It has become one of the highlights of the year!
Get the party going
If you have smaller kids at home, you can also take this challenge down a notch and bake some sugar cookies for them to decorate. A nice and simple method is to make an icing sugar glaze and dip the cookie surface in it, while the glaze is still wet decorate the top with sprinkles and let dry. For older kids with better motor skills, you can move on to piping colourful royal icing onto fancier cookie shapes. Or you can make festive stained-glass cookies with the kids’ favorite candies. Why not host a cookie decorating party and invite the children’s besties to come to get sugar-high together? The kiddos can have so much fun and each of them gets to bring home their proudly decorated cookies to show their parents!
If baking is not your cup of tea or you prefer not to have sugar temptations standing around in the house for the entire holiday season, you can build a little Christmas village from cardboard, cartons, or other recycled materials. I am sure the kids will love to decorate these little houses just as much.
Have a Merry and Sparky Christmas!