How to Throw a Gingerbread Party

At Little Sprouts, we have a yearly tradition of gingerbread decorating.  I build a creation and invite all of the daycare families over to have dinner and decorate.  We donate the creation to KidsSpace, a child advocacy center here in town to bring some joy to the lives of children in transition.  We started this tradition about 18 years ago.  We have entered our creations in contests, donated them to museum sales, and all kinds of things.  We have been donating it to KidsSpace for several years now and it seems to bring them much joy. 

Building 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.  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.

Martha Stewart’s recipes

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 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

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

Putting the gingerbread together

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 building

creating gingerbread

building gingerbread houses

I allow these to dry for about a week.  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. 

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 houses

gingerbread decorating

 

 


Get ready for your party guests

Before your 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 fun

gingerbread creating

creating gingerbread with kids

children creating gingerbread

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

gingerbread creation 7gingerbread creation 6

gingerbread creation 5gingerbread creation 4

gingerbread creation 3gingerbread creation 2

gingerbread creation 1gingerbread creation 8

finished gingerbread creation

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 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.  I couldn’t believe they did this for me.  I was so touched, I had to put it away so I wouldn’t cry.  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!

how-to-throw-a-gingerbread-party

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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