The holiday spirit hit me in a major way last weekend. You too? Suddenly the fall decorations had to go, we had to get a Christmas tree (okay 2 Christmas trees if you want to get technical), we made a trip out of town to go ice skating, and I got the crazy idea to turn our house into a gingerbread house factory.
The girls and I decided it would be really fun to invite some friends over for an afternoon of gingerbread house decorating. Since our crowd of 2 to 6-year-olds would have a hard time assembling the miniature cottages I put them together two days beforehand. I'm going to be honest, only a slightly crazy person would bake eight gingerbread houses. I had a lot of fun in the process, but it was a lot of work. I could have bought pre-made gingerbread house kits for $10-$20 each instead of making them for around $3 each. But along with wasting a lot of money, we would have missed out on the house smelling amazing all Sunday long and nibbling on gingerbread scraps.
These turned out so much cuter than the pre-made, plastic wrapped, inedible kind... don't you think? Each had their own quirky personality. None were "perfect" and I loved all of their unique lumps and bumps.
I also loved - ahem- Our Elf on the Shelf also loved eating a chimney off after the kids went to bed.
Perhaps the smartest idea I had was to use a long piece of butcher paper as the tablecloth. The kids (and moms too!) made an incredible wonderful mess and all I had to do at the end was wrap it all up and toss it in the recycle bin. *Please note the candies pictured are serious choking hazards for kids under 4. The moms were sitting with these kids the whole time to make sure none went in their mouths. I do not recommend using these types of candies around toddlers.
You can of course make your own homemade gingerbread cookie dough. Because I needed to speed up this whole process I used Trader Joe's mix, which was fantastic. 1 box makes about 1 gingerbread house using the template I used.
Keep reading for the simple instructions!