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Every year, for as long as I can remember we’ve thrown a Gingerbread House making party. Usually my aunt Jeanne hosts it at her house – but she moved far away last year, so the honor has been passed to our family to keep alive. So this year, when we planned out the party, we knew we had to make it super special, to make Jeanne proud. So I am going to share with you, all of our secrets, tips, tricks to entertaining and even some fun recipes to make throwing your first Gingerbread House Party the best it can be!
I should clarify things a bit, these aren’t your typical “Gingerbread” houses… we actually sort of cheat a bit – we use graham crackers and hot glue – but the results are just as wonderful and fun – and it speeds up the process of making Gingerbread Houses considerably. Making real Gingerbread house parts for the number of people that come, would take a weeks worth of prep in the kitchen – plus we’ve got lots of kids whose main goal is to just pile on as much candy as humanly possible.
This party can get pretty expensive with all the things required, so when we send out our invite, we always include a “what to bring” list. It not only helps keep the party affordable, but gives everyone a variety of different decorations to use, and it makes it really fun.
I love that just bringing a few different decorations can totally fuel your creativity when there are so many things to choose from. It’s fun to see what people bring.
I highly suggest having this party outdoors (if the weather permits) or in your garage, like we did. The mess can be very overwhelming, and having it outside helps a lot – just sweep everything up and you’re done! Trust me – you’re gonna drop candy, cracker crumbs, hot glue strings, cardboard scraps… keep it easy and keep it in an area that’s easy to sweep.
So start out with a piece of cardboard as the base, and then glue more cardboard to it to create your foundation. It’s much easier to create a sturdy house that will last all of December if you do this first. You can use old boxes, milk cartons, juice boxes, cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, anything! Just start saving a few weeks before and you’ll have MORE than enough scrap cardboard to create your house frame.
After that you’re going to want to glue your house onto the frame. You can use anything from graham crackers, to pretzel sticks! The creativity and possibilities are endless! Just help the little ones with the hot glue so no one gets burned.
Once your house is built, it’s time for frosting and candy!
We alprovide all the frosting, and my mom stays right next to the mixer, making batch after batch. This year she went crazy and started making colored frostings. You can do this the day of as needed, or make it the night before and store it in air tight containers. This frosting doesn’t taste very good, but it’s great for building houses. It dries in a few hours when exposed to air and is very easy to make.
Gingerbread House Decorators Frosting
- 2 sticks of vegetable shortening
- 1 small bag of confectioner’s sugar
- 2-4 tbsp water
Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, and add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you achieve the desired consistency. Frosting should be thick, but easily spread. Color may be added after frosting is mixed by adding a few drops of food coloring until the desired hue is reached.
Now it’s time to decorate your houses. Try to think outside the box when it comes to the candy. Lots of things can be used in a variety of ways to make some pretty awesome results…
- Pretzel sticks can be used to make a log cabin
- Ice cream cones make fantastic pine trees – a small star tip and some green icing does the rest
- Sliced almonds or Mini Wheats make great roof options
- Candy Canes can be used to make sleds, hearts, or street lamps – colored ones like WONKA® SWEETARTS® variety make great non traditional options
- Powdered Sugar dusted on your house looks like fresh fallen snow
- Marshmallows make great snowballs and snowmen
- Nerds make fantastic Christmas lights
- Use a piping bag and frosting to make delicate details like icicles or windows
- Sprinkles make great tree ornaments
- Classic Christmas candies are great “presents” under trees
To help organize all the loose, unwrapped candies, cupcake tins are a great solution.
Assembling various “stations” – building, frosting, decorating – can help keep things tidy and uncluttered.
This year, we opted for a Hot Cocoa Bar since it was chilly and drizzling off and on the entire weekend.
Simple Crockpot Hot Cocoa
- 1 gallon of milk
- 1 bag Nestle Milk Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- Splash of vanilla
- Pinch of salt
Add the milk to the crockpot and turn it on high. The milk will take about an hour or so to heat up. Add all the ingredients to the crockpot, and stir every 10-15 minutes as the milk warms and the chocolate chips melt. Once the hot cocoa is heated through, reduce heat to low and serve with additional garnishes – candy canes, marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles – anything you’d like! A perfect addition to any sort of Holiday entertaining you’ll be having this season!
Other items to serve the guests that are easy to prepare and clean up could be;
- Pizza & Stouffer’s Lasagna with Garlic Bread
- Hot Dog Bar
- Quesadilla Bar
- Nacho Bar
If you like having party favors, a really easy one is homemade fudge, some salted caramels and a candy cane in a cute take home box. NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Famous Fudge Kit helps make making homemade fudge a snap. It’s easy and delicious and has been loved for generations. Plus it makes over a pound and a half of fudge! So even just grabbing a kit for any last minute Christmas Goodie Swaps makes your life easier.
Place a few pieces of fudge into a kraft box, with some paper confetti and some caramels. Garnish the box with a cute tag, some baker’s twine and a colorful WONKA® SWEETARTS® candy cane! They come in 3 different flavors as well – Blue Punch, Green Apple and Cherry! So simple, and so sweet.
Both the Fudge Kit and the Candy Canes can be found at your local Walmart in the Seasonal Aisles and end caps.
Since it’s the holidays, let the kids dive in…
Because no one naps better than after a fun filled day of holiday treats!
At the end of the party, display all the houses and take LOTS of pictures! It’s so fun to see what everyone came up with, how much your style evolves, year after year… I used to make big houses, but now I make much smaller ones. It’s so interesting to see all the different styles! This year we had a log cabin, a tree house, a princess castle and lots more.
Want a chance to host your own Holiday Party and have it paid for by Nestle!? Enter to win one of several Nestle Gift Baskets below!
What are your favorite ways to decorate a Gingerbread house? Did you get any good ideas from seeing ours?