Few things in life are as delightful (and delicious) as whipping up a batch of holiday treats with the ones you love. This year, why not try your hand at decorating gingerbread houses with your kiddos for an extra-special treat? Memories made in the kitchen can last a lifetime so take a break from last-minute shopping and get messy.
Like most things in life, a little preparation goes a long way. Make a shopping list and stock up on supplies in advance. That way you won't be mid-project when you realize you've forgotten a crucial ingredient. You'll need: a house, frosting, and LOTS of candy!
The House: Gingerbread houses come in all shapes and sizes, from the graham cracker on milk carton creations from your childhood to handmade houses from scratch. Whatever route you go, constructing your house ahead of time will allow the frosting to set and lead to a stress-free decorating experience for the kids.
The Frosting: To streamline the process, consider making the frosting ahead of time, too. While many gingerbread house kits come with pre-made frosting, you can easily make your own by following this simple recipe. Put your frosting in a piping bag or a large zip-top bag with a tiny corner snipped off to make it easier to create fun designs on your house.
Make it Easier: Use store-bought frosting, spooning it into zip-top bag or buy tubes of frosting with small tips ready for piping.
The Candy: The goal here is endless decorating options for everyone to enjoy. Gather a fun selection of holiday candies in all shapes, sizes and colors so kids can create architectural elements like square pretzel windows, gumdrop shingles, and candy cane fences. Display your candy in bowls so everyone can see the options.
Make it Healthier: If you aren't ready to throw all nutritional caution to the wind, consider using peanut butter instead of frosting and better-for-you nibbles such as raisins, pretzels, and dried cereal as decoration. Get more healthy ideas here.
Now it's time for the magic to happen. Take your time and ignore the mess (for now). If your kids are small, consider pre-applying the frosting so they can focus on decorating. Older kids love to be really independent and create their own personalized masterpieces, so let them frost and decorate on their own. Above all, have fun and take lots of pictures!
Jessi Walter Brelsford is the Founder & Chief Bud at Taste Buds Kitchen, a culinary education company that offers cooking classes, parties, camps and other special events where kids, families, and adults can whip up great recipes and a fun time. Follow their kitchen festivities on Facebook and Instagram. To make holiday memories without the clean-up, visit a Taste Buds Kitchen for a signature Gingerbread House Workshops in New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Montana.