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.
Parent involvement is important for children’s education and this is a way our families can get to know each other see how their child interacts with others. For more ideas, check out our Easter party and Mom’s night out ideas we do yearly as well. For more on running a home daycare, check this out.
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. They are a child advocacy center.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
After everyone ate and decorated, we put the creation together.
I wanted to make a community garden in the center of the neighborhood, so I attempted some veggies.
After the creation was in place, it magically snowed during the night…
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!
Do you have any gingerbread memories to share? I’d LOVE to hear them!
Don’t forget to pin for later!