Earlier in November I wrote about Getting Ready for Advent and gingerbread houses. Last night was our first Gingerbread House Workshop at a friend’s sweet shop in historic Frankfort, Illinois. Kernel Sweetooth is an anchor in historic Frankfort, a suburb of Chicago. They make all their own chocolates, cookies, popcorn flavors and much more but this was their first gingerbread workshop. And wow! did we have fun!
We didn’t get the HUGE response we were hoping for but it was wonderfully fun. The people that joined our happy group came with great ideas, a happy outlook and a good bit of holiday spirit. I always believe everything about decorating gingerbread houses is completely wonderful. How could it not be? Young and old alike enjoy being childish for a few hours while decorating gingerbread houses.
The only rule when decorating gingerbread houses is that everything on the house should be edible. We used candy, lots of candy and also pretzels, marshmallows, sprinkles, cereal and popcorn. Everything is ‘glued’ onto the houses using royal icing which hardens within a few minutes and becomes like cement within an hour or so.
We started with 6 houses waiting on the table, another table filled with candies, pretzels, cereal, and marshmallows just waiting for our group of budding architects and designers to begin the arduous task of deciding which candies to use, where to place them and how much to use for their house. Of course there is a great deal of sampling going on throughout the evening and by the end of the night some of the kiddos were on a little sugar high. Sometimes I think the same amount of candy gets eaten as what goes onto the houses.
Although they all started with exactly the same blank gingerbread house, tray, peppermint Christmas tree and table of candies each house is so distinctively different; each creation amazingly beautiful in their own right. The finished houses each have their owners personality reflected in the meticulous placement of items, the owner frustration of too much to do in too little time as well as the pure joy of a little one trying to glue as much candy as quickly as possible on their house. And yet even though it seemed a little chaotic at the time, each house turned out absolutely lovely. Nothing can diminish the smiles on the faces of these proud artisans and the feelings of accomplishment, joy, contentment and pride they expressed when finished. Each of our participants thought it was the best night ever! Just look at their smiles!
The best thing other than the pride taken for a job well done, the nicest thing about having a gingerbread house in your house for the Christmas season is the smell that fills the room where you display the decorated house; a spicy, sweet holiday fragrance. Just remember to keep it away from any pets.
One year when I had our tearoom, we raffled off a gingerbread house as a fund-raiser. We pulled the winning ticket early in December so the family that won the house could use it as part of their holiday decor. They were thrilled with their win. It sat in their dining room in the middle of the dining room table throughout the entire holiday season without any problems. Then on Christmas Eve, the family went to midnight mass and came home to a completely empty tray where their missing gingerbread house used to set. Their dog, Charlie was beyond sick. He had held it together for the entire season, resisted the urge to sneak a taste, never paying any attention to the gingerbread house, he was a good dog, he just had to make it one more day and he couldn’t. Poor thing, they said he was out of sorts for most of Christmas day but I’ll bet he really enjoyed that gingerbread house on Christmas Eve.
When the holidays are over and we are done with our gingerbread house, we feed it to our squirrels. (I blogged on my Pickwick Tea Lady blog about the squirrels last January) They really enjoy picking it apart and carting away the pieces.
If you decide to make a gingerbread house this year, share the enjoyment with others; even if they are a little squirrely.