Author: Justin McWhirter

Using a Pre-Baked Gingerbread House Kit

gingerbread house white christmasThe act of decorating gingerbread houses is a popular family tradition in America, loved by parents and kids alike. But if you are short on time and would rather skip the baking process and begin the decoration of a gingerbread house right away, picking up a pre-baked gingerbread house kit really makes a lot of sense.

Pre-made gingerbread house kits are easy to assemble, and often come with candy and icing. You also get detailed instructions. Gingerbread Traditions is an Oregon-based company that makes highly popular pre-baked gingerbread house kits for families – no baking needed, start decorating the pre-baked gingerbread house that comes in attractive variations right away.

Why are pre-baked gingerbread house kits so popular? Almost nobody likes the hard work involved in baking gingerbread in the precise way required for construction of a gingerbread house. It takes a lot of time and many things can go wrong. A pre-made gingerbread house kit is so much easier to work with. In fact, the kids can start decorating it straight away, and it’s a lot more fun this way. The gingerbread houses-kits from Gingerbread Traditions serve as classy gift ideas for Halloween, birthdays, anniversaries or Valentine’s Day.

Here are a few tips you can use after buying a pre-baked gingerbread house kit from Gingerbread Traditions

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  1. Before you start assembling the house, check all the pieces. There could be slight variations in the shapes of the gingerbread pieces. Just make sure that the edges are as straight as possible.
  2. Use a ruler and a knife to trim the bottom of the pieces and the inside edges so that they are perfectly aligned when assembled.
  3. You don’t have to assemble your gingerbread house when first. You can, decorate the sides of the house while the unassembled pieces are lying on a flat surface. This ensures that the decorations don’t fall off when you assemble them later because of gravity.
  4. If you do decide to assemble the house before decorating, do so a day before. This way the house has enough time to set up. Thereafter, you can start decorating it.
    Assembling the Gingerbread House
Start building the house. Join one side wall to one peaked wall; Join the panels so that the sidewall connects with the inside edges of the peaked wall; Pipe the icing along the bottom and inside of the peaked wall as well as the side wall; Press all the sides together and attached to the base. Once held in place for a while, the icing begins to set.

Next, attach the roof panels. Pipe the icing along the sides of the roof panel as well along the top of the walls. Position the roof sections so that they connect with the peaked wall and the side wall edges. Make adjustments so that all sides are evenly pitched. Press and hold the house in place for a few minutes to allow the icing to set properly.

What are the different types of pre-baked Gingerbread House Kits?
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At Gingerbread Traditions, there are three types of pre-baked Gingerbread House Kits available for sale: full kits, just the pre-baked parts and the already constructed kits.

The full kits come with parts for the gingerbread house, instructions, and base, white icing packet as well as candies and decorations; Just the pre-baked parts kits include unassembled gingerbread house parts only, and you don’t get candies and decorations with them. If you need anything extra, you’ll need to order separately.

The third type is the already constructed kits, which include a fully assembled chocolate gingerbread house, instructions, base, white icing packet, candies and decorations.

Gingerbread Traditions, based in Oregon ships and delivers the most delicious gourmet gingerbread kits for holidays directly to you. Our gingerbread house kits are made for excitement, and also serve as creative gifts for friends and family members of any age. Buy your own gingerbread kits online today!

Gingerbread House History

a thousand old traditionDecorating a gingerbread house is a popular family tradition in America. Gingerbread houses are loved by both parents and kids. What you probably didn’t know is that this is a tradition that is more than 1000 years old!

So what’s gingerbread? According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, “Gingerbread generally refers to one of two desserts. It can be a dense, ginger-spiced cookie flavored with molasses or honey and cut into fanciful shapes (such as the popular gingerbread man). Or, particularly in the United States, it can describe a dark, moist cake flavored with molasses, ginger and other spices.”

Fascinating! Now, although no one is sure about the exact origin of the gingerbread house, here’s what we do know. The ginger plant (the root is the part that is used) originated in China and was known widely throughout Asia. Gingerbread was probably introduced to Europe by an Armenian monk in the 10th Century. Apparently, he taught the art of baking gingerbread to Christian priests in France.
a thousand old tradition
The familiar Gingerbread Man has its origins in England. The English claim to be the first to bake and sell gingerbread, and they introduced the idea of the Gingerbread Man. In fact, gingerbread was a much loved treat in festivals and fairs in medieval Europe. It was shaped and decorated to look like many attractive things – birds, animals, flowers and armor. Gingerbread fairs were universally popular in those days.

Indeed, the young ladies in those days offered their favorite knights a piece of gingerbread to wish them luck before competitions. There was also a tradition of young women secretly eating a “gingerbread husband” in hopes of finding that special someone.

It is interesting that the word “gingerbread” has come to mean different things over the centuries. Any kind of preserved ginger was called gingerbread in medieval England. The French used the term gingebras for gingerbread, which was derived from the Latin word, zinzebar. It was only in the 15th Century that gingerbread was associated with baked, ginger-flavored cakes.

Gingerbread has also long been considered to be a medicine used to cure stomach cramps. As one 16th Century writer by the name of John Baret wrote, “[Gingerbread is] A Kinde of cake or paste made to comfort the stomacke.”

In fact, gingerbread was so popular that The Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, wrote about it in a play – “An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy ginger-bread.”
germany
The Germans claim that they invented the concept of making gingerbread houses. There is a lot of truth to this. Gingerbread cookies are popularly called Lebkuchen in Germany, and they have been a part of German culture since the 15th Century.

In Germany, it is common to see gingerbread sold at street fairs, shaped as hearts frosted with cute messages such as “I Love You!”, “All I Need Is You!” and “You Are Awesome” in German. It’s likely that German bakers’ gingerbread houses were inspired by the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel by Brothers Grimm, in which the witch lives in a cottage made of gingerbread, decorated with sweets.

In the past, gingerbread was traditionally prepared in monasteries, churches and other religious institutions in Europe. Swedish nuns, for instance, used to bake and sell gingerbread to raise money for charity. Gingerbread was also available for sale in pharmacies and farmers’ markets.
gingerbread house
But it was when gingerbread made its way to England that it became really popular. The English started the tradition of painting gingerbread and displaying it in shop windows. It was in England that decorating the gingerbread house became a holiday tradition for the whole family.

In the United States, we have been baking gingerbread for more than 200 years. Indeed, George Washington’s mother wrote a popular gingerbread recipe! The tradition of creating gingerbread houses was first brought to America by German settlers and since then has become a quintessentially American tradition and a favorite with kids through the generations.

Gingerbread Traditions, based in Oregon, delivers the most delicious gourmet gingerbread kits shipped direct to you. Our gingerbread house kits also serve as exciting and creative gifts for friends and family members of any age. Buy your own gingerbread kits online today!

Create a new May Day Tradition

gingerbread on spring

Celebrate with a Spring-themed gingerbread house party, a sweet, fun wholesome activity for all ages. (Helpful hint: Gingerbread isn’t just for wintertime anymore.)

When you think about it, decorating gingerbread houses is an activity that fits right into the spirit of May Day, combining sweet treats, hands-on creativity, slightly-wacky whimsy and lots of fun that people of all ages can enjoy together. When you include gingerbread house decorating in any May Day celebration at your school, community center, youth group meeting, church potluck or social club meeting, you can be certain that a good time will be had by all.

Four good reasons to have a May Day Gingerbread House party:

  1. Decorating spring-themed gingerbread houses (and/or cottages, cabins, fairy castles, sailing ships, bird houses — the options are endless) is a lively hands-on activity that provides plenty of opportunity to exercise creativity in a relaxing, companionable atmosphere.
  2. Garnishing gingerbread constructions is good wholesome fun for people of all ages, from preschoolers to grandparents. Your charming constructions may be as complex or as simple as you like, so this is an activity that can accommodate almost everyone, including folks who have physical or mental challenges.
  3. Building/decorating gingerbread constructions (again, houses and cottages are only the tip of the creative iceberg) is an activity that can easily be held outdoors in a picnic atmosphere or indoors in a variety of situations, which means it’s easy to accommodate weather fluctuations and changes of plans.
  4. A gingerbread house party can be as large or as small as you like. You can host a small party in your kitchen or living room or set-up to serve a huge crowd in a gymnasium. You may choose to celebrate May Day with your immediate family, a few close friends, or you can make it part of a “Welcome Springtime” neighborhood celebration, a community-based event, or even a fun in-service, team-building project for employees.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure that your May Day Gingerbread Party or activity is a memorable success:
springtime

  • Set up work areas beforehand that provide enough room for everyone to work and spread out their supplies.
  • Make set-up and clean-up a breeze by using disposable tablecloths, paper or Styrofoam plates or platters for building gingerbread structures on, and plenty of paper towels or napkins for cleaning up. Make sure your guests can easily wash their hands before starting (children may need to be reminded) and to clean up afterwards. You may want to provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer as well.
  • Be sure to have plenty of frosting and brightly-colored decorative candies and cookies available for decorating and for (inevitable) snacking. It is considerate to provide sugar-free alternatives (clearly marked) for people who are watching calories or avoiding sugar for health reasons.
  • Provide boxes or at least plastic wrap to cover your guests’ masterpieces so they can carry them safely home.
  • Make your May Day Gingerbread event easy by choosing from our wide assortment of pre-made gingerbread constructions and kits and the huge assortment of sweet decorations we offer. Please click here to check out our store.
  • Feel free to check out our “Design Ideas” pages for more great ideas for your own creations. Click here please

Gingerbread House Party

Your party will be the one the children remember best.

Five great reasons to host a Gingerbread House Party
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  • Building gingerbread houses is good wholesome fun for boys and girls of all ages, from first-graders to teens. In fact, your party may easily include boys and girls of various ages, and they will all enjoy themselves.
  • A well-planned Gingerbread House Party has enough structure to keep children busy and entertained while also providing plenty of freedom for them to relax and enjoy their individual creativity.
  • The home-made gingerbread house is a traditional and beloved symbol of winter holidays that is enjoyed and appreciated by people of all cultures and beliefs. Everyone feels welcome to take part in the good, old-fashioned fun of creating gingerbread houses.
  • A Gingerbread House Party provides lively hands-on activity indoors, which kids (and their parents) will welcome when winter weather is forbidding.
  • A Gingerbread House Party can be as large or as small as you like. You can host it in your kitchen with your child and one or two neighbor kids, or you can host it in a school cafeteria with a hundred children. You don’t need a lot of fancy furniture or equipment—just tables, chairs or benches, and a place for hand-washing. But if you want, you can also go all-out with decorations, tablecloths, and a buffet spread. (BTW, this can also be a fun kids’ activity to include at a winter potluck at your church or civic organization.)

So, here are some helpful ideas for making your Gingerbread House Party a memorable success:

  • Send fun invitations, preferably by snail mail — children love to receive and save cards addressed to them. It’s fun to make your own home-made gingerbread-themed notecards to get your creative juices flowing for the big event.

    Simple gingerbread boy and girl templates are available for free online, which you can print or trace onto colorful paper and decorate as you choose with paint, colored pencil, glitter, etc. One great site that provides free templates is found at http://www.coloringcastle.com/gingerbread_man_coloring_pages.html.

  • Consider asking your guests to wear holiday-themed clothing. While you’re at it, consider providing inexpensive disposable aprons (available at dollar stores) to protect children’s clothes from spills.
  • If your party will be a casual affair, save yourself some cleanup work by investing in inexpensive, decorative disposable table cloths, napkins, paper plates, etc. Again, dollar store often have a good array.
  • Whether your party is casual or somewhat dressy, refreshments are best served buffet-style.
  • Naturally, working with all those tempting gingerbread houses and candies and frosting will give your guests a sweet tooth, so sweet treats will be appreciated. Gingerbread men (home-made or store-bought) are an obvious choice. Non-messy finger foods are optimal, and unless you’re doing an all-dessert spread, it would be wise to include some protein foods such a cheese strips, mild sausages and deviled eggs to counteract all the sugar.

    A previously-decorated gingerbread house makes a lovely (and inspiring) centerpiece for the table, but you can be sure that your guests will be more interested in looking at their own creation.
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    Hot chocolate is always a popular winter beverage for children, but for a special treat, how about consider serving warm, spiced apple cider? This is easily made and kept warm in a large slow-cooker (crock pot) by heating apple juice with a few natural cinnamon sticks (available in bulk food spices in many grocery stores) on low for 4 hours or more. Shortly before the party guests arrive, stir in a bit of brown sugar or honey to taste.

  • Collect your gingerbread house supplies. Don’t skimp on the frosting and decorations — that’s what the kids love best. It’s very convenient to order from our variety of kits that are assembled and ready to decorate, or you might order unassembled kits and put them together yourself before the big day rolls around. *Please click here to go to our store page.*
  • Think outside the box when choosing the style of gingerbread house your guests will decorate. If you are a den mother for cub scouts, you may want to choose gingerbread forts or pirate ships. Older children and teens appreciate decorating more intricate structures like gingerbread castles, while very young children will do better with simple cottages. It’s worth ordering a couple of extra kits in case of accidents.

    While you’re at it, gather (borrow if needed) plenty of small bowls, trays or similar containers to hold the various candies and decorations for each “work station.” Try to find containers that don’t tip easily, at least for those candies that are round and rolly.

    Be sure to have plenty of napkins or paper towels available for clean-up during the project. And finally — this is important — have boxes, trays, or something of the sort for the children to use to carry their masterpieces home with them. A plate isn’t very secure unless the gingerbread house is a mini. A foil disposable cake pan may be a better choice.

  • On the big day, the work stations for each child should be set up (preferably with a name tag) when your guests arrive.
  • Ask the guests to go to their spot, but wait for instructions so their project will go well. There will be a lot of chatter and laughter once the activities start, so you may want to have a bell or a chime that you can ring. At the outset, instruct the kids to “stop, hush and listen” when it rings. Don’t over-use the bell, and try to start with a few positive “dings” such as, “Ding”— when the kids hush you announce you have some extra decoration (like licorice strips) for anyone who wants them (“Raise your hand please, and I’ll bring them to you.”)

    Suggest that your guests start by applying their frosting and then go from there. Remind them that they can decorate their gingerbread house however they want. After that, just step back and let them create their masterpieces. Resist the urge to “help” unless a child is really struggling with the project. Most of the fun for the children is being able to decorate their way, rather than “coloring inside the lines.”

    At the end of the day, when all your guests have been bundled out the door proudly bearing their gingerbread house that will surely be a cherished decoration in their homes, you can sit down, put your feet up, and sigh with the satisfaction of having hosted a holiday party that those children will never forget.

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