Whether you want to carry on a family tradition or visions of sugarplums and architectural wonders made of cake, cream, and candies have invaded your mind, building a gingerbread house with your kids can be a wonderful holiday or anytime project. As long as perfection is not your goal, the sometimes-questionable help of little hands can result in a unique and wonderfully sweet decoration and memory.
Building “Materials” Selection and Baking Help
The type of assistance each kid brings to the table depends largely on his or her age, ability, and level of attention. The gingerbread sheets that make up the walls and roof need a steady hand – most likely a parent’s hand – to remove them from the baking sheets and fix them in place with the icing glue. Kids love to measure ingredients and mix them together though. Another option is to use a pre-made kit to make the not-as-exciting construction step quicker.
The real magic of building a gingerbread house with your kids is in choosing the building materials and putting them on. Have fun on a trip to the store to buy candy or when perusing the selection online. Necco wafers for the roof? Or a mosaic pattern of brown M&Ms? Gumdrop bushes under the windows, or flower shapes cut from taffy?
Make a Plan and Stick to it Like Icing
You will find, in the course of this project, that sometimes icing does not stick at all. Do not be too rigid or focused on a perfect end goal when building a gingerbread house with your kids. This is bonding time with the little ones and sharing of a tradition either old or new. The end goal may just be a sticky mess and a cup-full of wonderful memories.
Although a casual approach works well for any craft or baking project with little hands involved, having a plan at the start may help. Purchasing a kit takes the architectural decisions off the table, but questions such as what candy to put on the roof and if the path to the door should be lined with candy canes or green spearmint trees still exist.
Perhaps less planning and more creative experimentation is your family’s style. When building a gingerbread house with multiple kids, some friendly competition over who placed the most candies or whose icing lines are straighter may erupt. Divvy up responsibilities evenly as age and ability permit and remind everyone that a house, even a gingerbread house, is only a home with a lot of love poured into it. Traditions are made like this, and the results are always sweet.