How to Host a Kid-Friendly Gingerbread Decorating Party

Making your own gingerbread creation and throwing a gingerbread decorating party is so much fun! It's not as hard as you think to put it together.

Making your own gingerbread creation and throwing a gingerbread decorating party is so much fun! It’s not as hard as you think to put it together.

At Little Sprouts, we have a yearly tradition of gingerbread at a big family gingerbread decorating party.  I build a creation and invite all of the daycare families over to have dinner and decorate.  We donate the creation to KidSpace, a child advocacy center here in town to bring some joy to the lives of children in transition. 

Little Sprouts started this tradition about 18 years ago.  We have entered our creations in contests, donated them to museum sales, and all kinds of things.  Recently, we have been donating it to KidSpace for several years now and it seems to bring them much joy. 

How to build a gingerbread house

Building and decorating gingerbread is so much fun.  If you have a group of adults, you can let them build their creations and decorate them, but with many toddlers and preschool-age kids, it’s easier to build the creation a week or so ahead of time so it’s more likely to hold together while they are decorating it. 

The first thing you have to figure out is what you are going to build for decorating.  I have several books full of patterns and there are free patterns on the internet and many you can buy.  I started by checking out library books with patterns. 

You can even create your own.  I have done that a few times, but usually, I just find a pattern and change it to what I want to build. It’s fine to use a gingerbread kit too, check this one out and if you use my discount code HAPPYHEALTHY, you’ll get $5 off AND free shipping! Do whatever works for you. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. 

Best gingerbread recipe for gingerbread house

I have always used Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread recipe.  It’s foolproof.  I do not add cinnamon to mine because I am highly allergic, but I do use ginger and black pepper to flavor it.  I use her royal icing recipe as well.  Martha knows!  And this royal icing hardens rock hard, so it’s a great glue for the gingerbread.

Start about a week before your gingerbread decorating party.  Roll out your dough to the 1/8 inch Martha recommends and cut your pieces from your patterns.  I use a pastry dough cutter or pizza cutter to cut sharp lines. 

gingerbread dough rolled out on the counter with patterns ready to be cut.

Bake your house pieces according to the instructions in the recipe and allow them to cool thoroughly.  I cool mine overnight or for a couple of days.

gingerbread cutouts

gingerbread house pieces ready to build houses for gingerbread party

How to Host a Kid-Friendly Gingerbread Decorating Party

Now it’s time to assemble.  I use peppermint sticks to hold the house sides together and when adding the roof pieces, I secure them with straight pins like a nail until the creation is dry.  I remove them before the kids come for decorating.

Gingerbread house glue

You have to use royal icing rather than canned frosting or something else. It’s the only “glue” stiff enough to make the houses super sturdy. Remember, kids are going to be banging around on these. And remember, Martha knows best, so use her royal icing recipe linked above with the gingerbread dough. 

gingerbread building, gluing pieces together with royal icing

creating gingerbread

building gingerbread houses

I allow these to dry for about a week before the gingerbread decorating party.  This year we had several days of rainy weather and our gingerbread was super soft.  Some of the houses had pieces break off, but we were able to put them back together.  If you have a large creation, sometimes the rain will totally destroy it.  I stick with smaller buildings most of the time because of that. 

Gingerbread house ideas

Another great reason is when I have a lot of people working, it helps if each family has a unit they can work on.  We have done train cars, town buildings, and village houses.  We have also done a beach scene with a house and a lighthouse, Santa’s workshop, a mansion with a gazebo, a big city downtown with skyscrapers and a protest, and many other creations.  Whatever you choose, it’s going to be fun.

Gingerbread decorations

gingerbread houses, just built with suplies for decorating at the gingerbread party.

gingerbread decorating party

 

 


Gingerbread is fun to work with. Before your gingerbread decorating party guests arrive, lay out all the supplies.  This year we ate pizza, so I just had to put out dishes and make some tea.  The families brought decorating candy and pizza money.  That made it easy for everyone.  Once the guests arrived, it was all fun.

Gingerbread house candy

We use m and ms, skittles, licorice, twizzlers, marshmallows, smarties, any kind of candy you can think of as decorating supplies. Parents come up with creative ideas of what to bring and I supply the canvas. I also save the decorating supplies from previous years so we can reuse them. No sense in throwing stuff away that is still cute. I just warn everyone not to eat them. Ha!

Get creative with gingerbread supplies. There are so many things that can be used to make cute things for a house. Cinnamon sticks or tootsie rolls can be logs for a fire, a wood pile, or decorating other things. Pretzels can be too. I like using pretzel sticks to make train tracks if we make a train. The possibilities are limitless. 

gingerbread fun with families decorating gingerbread houses with candy.

gingerbread creating, families decorating houses at gingerbread party.

 

children creating gingerbread

After everyone ate and decorated, we put the creation together.

gingerbread creation, family posing with their gingerbread house

gingerbread creation 4

gingerbread creation 3

gingerbread creation 1

finished gingerbread creation from family gingerbread party

I wanted to make a community garden in the center of the neighborhood, so I attempted some veggies.

gingerbread garden attemptcloseup of gingerbread community garden

After the creation was in place, it magically snowed during the night…

completed gingerbread creation with snow gingerbread party with kids

Having your families gather for a group project any time of year is a great way to let them get to know each other and to feel like they are a part of the daycare.  I have kids that are grown that still remember making gingerbread here with their parents.  It’s a great way to make memories and it’s super fun for everyone. 

I hope you try some gingerbreading with your loved ones.  If you feel intimidated by baking the gingerbread, make houses from graham crackers or buy a kit.  Any way you do it, it’s awesome!  And imagine the kid’s faces at the advocacy center when they see all this colorful fun! 



Christmas Surprises

A few months ago my camera that I saved three years to buy for myself met an untimely accident.  It still works, but some of the features such as zoom do not and when taking a picture, there is a long delay. 

Sometimes you can’t get it to come on without a little shaking.  Needless to say, with all the blog and daycare pictures, it’s a hassle.  But this year at the party, my sweet daycare parents surprised me with a replacement camera. 

It’s better, prettier, and they also gave me multiple cool tools to go with it.  I was flabbergasted.  Could you even believe they did this for me?  I was so touched, I had to put it away so I wouldn’t cry.  Because I hate crying in public.  Anyway, I am super excited about it.  I named her Lynda after my hero Wonder Woman.  Here’s a picture of her, she’s amazing…

gingerbread party gift

Do you have any gingerbread memories to share?  I’d LOVE to hear them!

Don’t forget to pin for later!

Making your own gingerbread creation and throwing a gingerbread decorating party is so much fun! It's not as hard as you think to put it together.

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20 comments

  1. Next time we try them, I’ll be using her recipe! (by the way, it is super neat to see your honey involved in the building process too – that is awesome!)

  2. I still say I wanna come play. I always did a Gingerbread Train with my nephew for years it was so fun.

    Now that I have your recipe I think it’s time to start a new tradition.

    Thank you my friend.

  3. Kayla says:

    That’s so fun! I love that you donate your gingerbread every year to pass on the fun times!

  4. Christina! This is so neat! You are awesome – AND you make your own gingerbread dough and successfully cut, bake and are able to put them together. AGAIN – you are awesome!!

  5. Meg Kocher says:

    We have done gingerbread parties with the kids for years and I still learned something reading your blog. This year I also made some tiny houses for the parents to decorate. It helped them keep their hand off the children’s houses.
    I have to admit this year I took the easy way out and did not have to bake 12 houses. I found clearance halloween gingerbread houses at Wal Mart for $1.19 each. Saved me tons of time and money. Covered with candy you could not tell and they came with a base for each one.
    My families bring all the candy to share to decorate and I do the houses and royal icing.

  6. Antwan says:

    Very well written information. It will be supportive to anyone who usess it, including yours truly :). Keep up the good work – i will definitely read more posts.

  7. Cassie says:

    Visiting from OWB. Your party looks like a blast for everyone! My husband and I do a gingerbread house each year, but it’s a package deal. Maybe once our little one gets bigger we will make a lesson out of the cooking as well!

  8. Christina! You do the most AMAZING things with your daycare families! Sometimes your posts bring tears to my eyes because I’m just so touched by all you do. 🙂 I think I might be inspired to make a gingerbread house with the kids this week. We’ve used kits before, but I’d love to find a pattern and to include a garden as well. Thanks for the inspiration, as always!

    • Thanks so much for reading! 🙂 Gingerbread is so much fun! You could use a kit house and make your own candy garden to go with it. Patterns are fun as well though. I hope you have fun with your littles making it! 🙂 Yippie!

  9. Karen says:

    We make gingerbread houses each year, but just here at home. You are truly an amazing woman to include those precious children and their families, and your donation of the finished houses is just wonderful!

    Congratulations on your new camera! I’m sure that was a very special time for you, and it’s very exciting. It just shows how special you are to the families. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story!

  10. Anne Marie says:

    Looks like so much fun! The houses are super cute too. I’ve also used Martha’s gingerbread recipe. I’ve never made any recipe of hers that I didn’t like.

    • Martha knows, doesn’t she? 🙂 We had a blast! Thanks for checking it out! And guess what? We used real plates and stuff for the party food. No paper for us. Go Little Sprouts! 😉

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