As discussed in our last Stealing a Tradition post, this year we are beginning to establish the traditions of OUR household. We are blending those of my family of origin and Hubby’s family of origin, and stealing a few goodies from others, as well as making up our own.
Last year, I read about a tradition that a fiance of a friend’s family does. They all sit down at a table and make gingerbread houses in a contest to make the best ginger mansion. I thought this was awesome when I read about it, but simply filed it into the back of my mind. When I was in JoAnn’s Fabric purchasing the supplies for my initial boxes and wrapping materials for this holiday, there were gingerbread making kits at the register. I remembered reading about Lydia’s family. I purchased six gingerbread kits; one for each of the adults coming to Christmas at our house, and one for Girl. Our first annual gingerbread contest was born.
We learned several things this year:
1) As long as you are not going to eat your gingerbread houses, use a glue gun to assemble at least the pre-decorated house. The drying process to do it with only frosting takes forever, and often slides. My gunned house (which everyone teased me for) was the most stable. It was also assembled the most efficiently.
2) Make sure to assemble the houses for people prior to sitting down for the contest. At least in our contest, everyone begins with the same base house. It’s all about the decoration. It simplifies the process if the houses are prepositioned and prepared for decoration. Go the extra mile by filling the pastry bags for people. This is a pain in the butt, and people will be happier to not do it themselves. Cheat by using ziplock bags instead of pastry bags.
3) If you want to make the bumps on the roof of my house (the one where the frosting on the roof is falling off, but has bumps under the “snow”), put the bumps on there with the frosting in your pastry bag, wait for it to dry, then coat over it with your spatula and extra frosting.
4) You don’t need all of the frosting. For the five houses that we made, we only used three bags of frosting mix.
5) If you’re doing this tradition with small children, do not buy them their own kit. They do not have the coordination or patience to do a house themselves. They will be perfectly happy to help you decorate your own. Nanny and Girl decorated this roof together. Girl did not even open her kit.
6) Next year, we will do this project in teams. Depending on who is in the contest, we will do Girls v. Boys, or couples, or families, or something of that nature. It is more fun to work together than to compete alone when kids are involved. However, if you have a competitive family and lots of adults, doing individual houses is also fun.
For a first go, I put this tradition in the success column. It will certainly be repeated in our house. We will use kits though because it’s a pain to make the gingerbread and cut it and all that. Call me lazy, but it seems like we are all happy and healthy having done it this way.