December 8, 2010

Gingerbread House Tradition

Every year the kids head over to my parents house for Christmas fun. The annual date gives me a chance to wrap presents and get the breakable decorations up without little helpers.

Their big event during the Christmas weekend is making gingerbread houses. Mom prepares for the decorating by purchasing gingerbread kits during the after Easter and after Halloween sales. These kits provide icing, candies and fitted gingerbread pieces and she gets them cheap. You don't have to use all of their stuff so it won't look like Halloween, but I did notice the kids wanted the bats on their houses this year. I also gather LOTS of Halloween candy and send it over with the kids so they don't eat it. It's a great way to get rid of the Halloween candy without complaints. You can see the in photo above some gummy burgers which my son used to create his gingerbread cafe.

My mom has an awesome way of organizing all the little candy pieces shown here. She makes royal icing in white for the main parts, but they find ways to incorporate the orange or pastels of the holiday kits.

Royal Icing Recipe
3 tbsp meringue powder
4 c (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
6 tbsp warm water
Mix all ingredients with a mixer for about 10 minutes until it looks smooth and forms peaks. Makes about 3 cups of icing.

There is even a tire swing in the front yard.

This year they really got crazy and wild making one house with actual windows! Mom used melted hard candies to make the windows and added a string of lights inside the house to actually light it up. The lights have the added benefit of making the house warm enough to scent our breakfast room with gingerbread smells...yum! After the kids come home with their beautiful creations we use them as centerpieces for our table, which means they don't want to eat them since they are the stars of the show.
See the cute fish pond? It's melted Laffy Taffy with Swedish Fish. And the mailbox is a toothpick with mini gumdrops.


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