{ Decorating Gingerbread houses }

The kids have been on us the last few years about decorating gingerbread houses. When we lived in Reno it was a tradition we made happen every year, but somehow it hasn’t found itself nestled back into our Christmas routine. I was determined, with some gentle nudging from the kids, to make it happen this year. The kids helped me mix the dough, and cut out the gingerbread house pieces. And we thought with four batches we would have enough for us each to do a house. We were wrong. After we made the houses a bit bigger than the original recipe called for, we were left with 3 big house and two little tepee houses. Erika’s one request was that they got to “decorate BIG houses, not tiny ones like they did at school, and they had to be out of real gingerbread-no graham crackers”, …

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…and yes lots of GOOD candy! I felt like I bought half the candy aisle by the time I was done. We have learned that pretty gingerbread houses are fun and cute, but gingerbread houses that are full of candy that you love to eat always look way better to us.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-5

After much deliberation from the girls (Brooke was in charge of dividing up everyone into groups)-Brooke, Erika, and I were in charge of one house. Brianna and Austin were a team. Aaron and Abby were the other big house, and the two little boys each got their own tepee house to decorate. Ryan was happy as could be that he could have his own house to enjoy and decorate as he pleased. Partially because he really had no idea what was going on, but it looked like it involved candy so he was in. Side note for years to come: Ryan at this age works best in his highchair. He is my master climber and messer these days. As long as I let him buckle his own highchair buckle he doesn’t fight me too much about being in it. This night it didn’t take too much convincing once he saw that candy was part of the plan. Also to note, though I don’t like bringing to everyone’s attention my lack of cleaning ability-love that the bar stool his highchair is attached to is pretty much filthy. I know it’s much filthier than it looks-just thought I would remind myself at this time in my life how much I dislike the job of cleaning his highchair. I think I will be really happy when those parts of baby days are over.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-2I thought that Scott would be so happy with his own little house, and feel like a “big kid”. I was wrong. The poor guy broke down in tears because he didn’t have a “partner” to help him. We all agreed to pitch in and be his partner, which subsided the tears a bit. Once he got into it though, he was happy to let that four year old imagination of his take off and make his house his own. He would yelp for refills of frosting spots on his tray and that was it. Side note: (promise I won’t bore you with side notes for every picture) I have many talents. Cutting hair isn’t one of them nor will it ever be. This is a grown out haircut gone wrong by me. It will be the last one by me. It really wasn’t as bad as it looks-when it’s brushed that it. This picture is reminding me that maybe even brushing my kids hair is not a strong suit of mine either. Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-4It was interesting to see each groups approach to their gingerbread house. Ours was very meticulously planned out, much to Erika’s dismay. She really wanted to just through on a bunch of candy-too bad for her she got stuck with Brooke and I who LOVE to be planners-even when it comes to gingerbread houses.

Can you tell by the perfectly spaced color patterned design on the back? Yeah, we like order-especially order spelled out in m&m’s.

Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-32Brianna and Austin were a perfect combination of great ideas. They just worked steadily packing their house with as much candy as possible. Anything chocolate was their focus. I think they mastered that with their chocolate brick walls they had going on.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-14Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-13Abby and Aaron were so funny to listen to. They both had their own ideas and candies they liked, but many of them were not the same at all. It was a great team building activity for sure. In the end, we all voted that we LOVED their house the most. The rest of us were done and cleaning up the candy, and they were still going strong with their ideas. This tradition definitely brought out the “Grandpa Engineer” side of Aaron from his dad.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-9Ryan worked quietly and steadily on his side of the island for most of the night. I think he was in shock that we were actually letting him handle such large amounts of candy. After he had almost finished his whole house we told him to pick up one of the pieces of candy from his pile and eat it. Gingerbread house making is a hands on/eating activity after all. He was almost scared to pick one up. You mean I can actually eat this candy too? I know. Almost too good to be true.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-3I was surprised how little direction he needed when it came time to decorate his house. I just put frosting on and he went to work. He carefully placed his m&m’s one by one on his house. He would arrange his candy on end, and in a specific order. It was really fun to see his creative side take off.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-8Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-7Here is his finished masterpiece. He was pretty proud of it-incase you can’t tell. Love that little boy grin!Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-10Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-11Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-12 Scott’s house had all the magical touches one would expect. Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-18A Christmas snowman…Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-19A jelly bean garden…Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-20..and a seesaw in the backyard for the marshmallow men to ride on. So cute.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-21Austin and Brianna’s final gingerbread lusciousness. I loved their creative little Lifesaver snowman out front.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-22Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-15Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-16They also spelled Merry Christmas in their yard. Very festive touch.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-17Brooke with our winter wonderland of a house.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-30Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-34The checkerboard roof was her idea. It turned out really cool when we snowed it with powdered sugar. It showed all the neat little ridges just like real shingles.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-33Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-31And our gingerbread house building winners for 2012…drum roll please…Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-25Abby and Aaron’s chocolate covered log cabin won by popular vote…though I don’t think we were even having an official contest. We just all thought it should have because it was really great. There were so many details that we thought were pretty creative.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-24The original design Twix and Snicker’s bar mailbox with it’s own tiny red licorice flag was pretty cool. The log siding on the front and whopper door handle also caught our eye.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-23The view from the other side was just as cute though. That’s a snow ball the gingerbread man is holding, and there is a smashed one on the mailbox that he already threw.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-28A full fence around back and more log siding.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-26Santa getting stuck  in the chimney.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-27Snowman and candy bar shingles. Yummy!Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-29Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-35Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-38The next morning before church the girls were happy to find that our elf Chadwick had found his way onto their house. We moved the house to take a picture and he almost fell off. We had to do a little elf repositioning with the kitchen tongs, and later had to remove him so we could enjoy some of our treats without fear of touching him and making him lose his magic. It was pretty funny. That elf and his little tricks!Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-37Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-36