Forget the cookie exchange this year and start a new tradition for your kids’ friends! Why not host a Gingerbread House Competition? In the spirit of the Great British Baking Show, invite several of your kids’ friends to craft gingerbread houses around the kitchen table and have them judged by a panel. Here are several tips to make the party go a bit more smoothly.
Who to Invite?
This competition is most appropriate for school-aged kids and older. If you have a handful of younger kids, you may want to create teams, including the smaller kids with the older kids. While this could be a fun activity for a larger group, if you don’t have extra adults to help supervise, you may want to keep the group to six kids or fewer.
Set a Time Limit and Work in Phases
Phase one of the contest should be the basic crafting of the structure of the house. This should take 30-40 minutes. Then take a break of about 30 minutes to allow the icing to harden. You don’t want to start decorating until your basic structure is sturdy. The second phase is the decorating phase and can last for up to an hour. Encourage the kids to take their time and enjoy the process, expressing themselves artistically.
Using graham crackers rather than traditional gingerbread is a great way to make quick and easy gingerbread houses. Graham crackers are sturdy and easy to use for creating houses. Royal icing isn’t the tastiest, but it will create the best “glue” for making sturdy houses. Many royal icing recipes include eggs, but if your houses will stay out at room temperature, use an Eggless Royal Icing recipe or buy some at a craft store.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to decorating gingerbread houses. Chocolate chips, red hots, jelly beans, gumdrops, marshmallows, or any other sweets are good choices for decorations. Shredded wheat cereal makes great “roof thatching” for gingerbread houses. Some people even use small plastic figurines to add style to their gingerbread houses.
Have at least three judges and have the judging occur privately. To recognize everyone’s accomplishments, invent creative awards, like most creative, funniest, or most original so everyone can get a prize.
While the word “competition” can bring out the worst in some people, having a fun, relaxing gingerbread contest will be less about awards and prizes and more about making memories. Doing this every year can create a tradition that your kids and their friends look forward to. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures!