The Christmas season is the perfect time to be intentional and show hospitality by inviting people into your home. For us a gingerbread house party was just the thing!
Where I live, people really tend to hibernate in the winter. Mounds and mounds and mounds of snow will do that to you. I have to work really hard not to do the same thing! As a stay-at-home-mom, my time is limited, and with a newborn and toddler, my energy levels tank by around noon. We love throwing Christmas parties, but with my husband traveling and the season of life we’re in, I couldn’t wrap my brain around a huge evening Christmas party in my home. Therefore, the gingerbread house party emerged!
I want to share with you how to have a gingerbread house party because it was the perfect way to fellowship with other moms while having so much fun with our kids! And it was so easy to put together!
First, you need to send an invitation to those you want to invite. I used evite.com to send my party invitations. But you can send a text, use the Facebook invite feature, use a traditional invitation that you mail, etc. It’s up to you! Just be sure to have them RSVP so you can make sure you have enough gingerbread houses for everyone.
I asked my guests to bring a bag or two of candy to share with everyone. With the evite, they were able to share what they were bringing so we could avoid having three pounds of gumdrops and not much of anything else. It made planning super simple.
The Gingerbread House Party Materials
This is where it gets really, really fun.
Gingerbread Houses: I opted to not do the traditional gingerbread houses, and instead used graham crackers. I’m a terrible baker and the gingerbread house kits are too expensive. I bought store brand graham crackers and they worked just fine.
Royal Icing (“glue”): Royal icing dries like cement. This is the best “glue” for holding your gingerbread houses together, as well as for keeping your candy from sliding down the roof of your house!
How to Make Royal Icing:
- 4 cups of powdered sugar
- 6 T warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Food coloring (optional)
Place all ingredients (except food coloring) into stand up mixer. Blend together slowly until powdered sugar is absorbed into the water. Then increase the speed to about medium. Mix for 7-10 minutes until desired consistency is reached. Once you have your desired consistency add food coloring to finish.
I found this recipe resulted in more of a gray frosting than white. To avoid this, you could substitute milk for the water. I think that should remedy the situation. I didn’t care about the gray frosting because I added red and green food coloring. I’m all about keeping it simple and not buying ingredients I don’t keep on hand. So this recipe worked for us!
Oh and one more note, buy the cheap, really bad for you kind of powdered sugar. Organic powdered sugar just does not give you the same results. I was half a bag short and my baker friend brought over what she had on hand. The frosting made with organic powdered sugar would not thicken and resulted in a more runny frosting. No one cared, but we liked the non-organic powdered sugar frosting better.
I highly suggest putting the houses together the day before your party. For us, our party consisted of mostly toddlers (age 3). Decorating (and eating the candy) was all they cared about. So my husband and I put the houses together the night before so they were dry and ready to go for our friends. Each house used twelve graham cracker squares, and it took about one hour to make eight houses from start to finish.
To Make a “Gingerbread” House:
Gather twelve graham cracker squares, paper plates (or base of choice) and royal icing (recipe above). Then, lay out freezer paper across your work surface.
Using a knife, cut two squares into triangles. This will be the eave for your roof. Then using frosting, “glue” the triangles each to one square a piece.
The remaining eight squares should be paired together and then “glued.”
Now you have all the pieces of your “gingerbread house.” It’s time to put it together. On your paper plate, use frosting to make a rectangle imprint of your house. The rectangle imprint will help keep your house from slipping around! Place two rectangles and two squares with eaves on top of your imprint one at a time. Use frosting to “glue” the walls together. Let this dry before adding your roof.
Once the walls are fairly dry add frosting to the eaves and add two more rectangles to the top of your house. I did one side and let it dry a little before adding the other half of the roof.
Voila! A “gingerbread house”! Now just let it sit over night to harden.
Candy: Now all you need is candy galore! Having your guests bring a couple of bags to share really helps cut down on the cost for the host. It was fun for the kids to see what kind of candy each of them brought.
Additional materials to make things easier:
Mini muffin cups – I found some fun, festive mini-muffin cups and thought, “Hmmm…how can I use these without having to bake? They’re too cute to pass up!” When I got home, it clicked. Instead of having to pass the candy bowls one hundred times, we’ll pass them once and let the kids fill up a muffin cup with candy! Because I love learning opportunities, this was a great sorting activity and fine motor practice for my toddler. It also helped contain the candies like chocolate covered balls, skittles, etc. from flying all over the table. Everyone totally loved this idea!
Paper plates – I couldn’t find any festive paper plates, but the stripes in fun colors was close enough. We used paper plates for our base instead of having to cut out cardboard and wrap each base in aluminum foil. This made things so much easier!
Additional powdered sugar – If you have a sifter on hand, then you just need a little extra powdered sugar for some fun giggles. Let the children sift the sugar over their houses to enjoy a little “snow” finish. Their delight-filled eyes was too much for me. I nearly cried. Totally worth it!
Plastic bags – We used plastic bags to hold our frosting. We then cut a tiny hole in the bottom corner of each bag to allow frosting to squeeze out.
The good news is you don’t need a lot of additional foods since the kids (and adults) will be eating the candy! I laid out a few cookies and additional graham crackers for those who were interested in something other than candy. I also had hot cocoa with marshmallows, along with cold milk for those not interested in hot beverages for their children. For the adults, I had hot Russian Tea, which was loved by all.
The Party Favors
Again, not much needed by way of party favors because the gingerbread houses will be going home with them. But I put together a gift bag filled with a candy cane and a homemade ornament made by my toddler. Simple. Very simple.
Gingerbread house parties are a great way to reach out to other moms with young children during the Christmas season. I invited neighbors, friends, and young moms I haven’t gotten to know very well yet. There was so much conversation around the table as everyone laughed and tried to keep their children from eating toooo much candy.
Hospitality is such a wonderful gift to extend this Christmas season. What is one way you are being intentional to reach out this holiday season?