Here’s how the gingerbread house making went:
First, we went to the Old Port Candy Co. to get candy. I figured this was better than getting giant bags of 12 different candies at the grocery store and then having leftovers. So we were able to get individual gummy lobsters and little licorice allsorts. We still had tons of leftovers (donated to Henry’s class for their gingerbread houses), and I did have to make a run to the grocery store for gumdrops, which I somehow could not find at the Old Port Candy Co. I’m a little on the fence considering the sum of money we dropped on candy here, but I felt good about supporting a local business, and it definitely seemed much more festive to go pick our individual candy bits from old-fashioned bins.
Let’s pause for a moment to celebrate the fact that I brought three kids into a candy store, and they did not at all go nuts but instead thoughtfully chose candy for the house and weren’t even so much considering eating it (in fact, when I mentioned something to Henry about tasting some candy, he got very concerned about running out of candy for the gingerbread house) (ok, and it’s not like Zuzu is going to get that excited about candy, stuck in a sling at 6 months old). I have a very short list of Quantifiable Parental Accomplishments, but the candy-getting is on the list (also newly on the list: that Henry used the phrase “truth be told” the other day in casual conversation).
Of course, half the fun of getting 100 different kinds of candy is organizing them (or are my kids mildly OCD and not all kids are obsessed with lining things up in categories?). And yes, it’s true, to help Eli power through the candy organizing task, I gave him…a cookie. I don’t know, sometimes I’m a little weak in the snack department, ok? It is a homemade best chocolate chip cookie ever cookie at least. Henry, wisely, chose a pear.
I gave Henry the task of choosing a gingerbread house design. He picked out the Sunday House design from (the appropriately titled) Tiny, Tiny Houses by Lester Walker (it’s not a book of gingerbread house designs, but a book of different very small house designs). The Sunday House is a type of house that the German farmer immigrants in Fredericksburg, Texas would stay in when they came to town on the weekend to do shopping and go to church. So, theoretically, they may have stayed in one at Christmas. I didn’t care about the Christmas appropriateness of it so much as the fact that he chose a design that was a perfect square and very easy to translate to gingerbread. We flattened out some cracker boxes and drew the plans on there, and then used those as a template to cut out our gingerbread pieces.
Here it is, unadorned.
All decked out. Notice the dogs on the roof, and also nestled amongst the gumdrops in front. They’re little licorice scotty dogs.
Random back-of-house gummy lobster decoration.
And then of course what happens after decorating the gingerbread house is that the kids are completely sugared up and Eli runs around like a loose spinning top and runs headlong into the chair and gives himself a black eye. Ah, Christmas!
I will say that, after Year Two of making a gingerbread house, I feel kind of Grinchy about it. It takes, literally, like two weeks to do it, with candy and material gathering, dough making, dough rolling, dough cutting, dough baking, assembly, and decoration. Last year we kind of forgot to eat it, and so the boys finally attacked a very stale gingerbread house around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after which I dumped the almost-whole gingerbread house very unceremoniously into the garbage can (where it looked very sad). I kind of feel like the whole thing might be more trouble than it’s worth…except for that the kids do really love it, and somehow miraculously don’t pick up on the fact that Dave and I are audibly sighing and rolling our eyes during the whole fortnight of gingerbread assembly.
And, now that it’s done, it is pretty cute and I have to say it smells amazing every time I walk by (which is 75 times a day; it’s fairly prominently located).