Your party will be the one the children remember best.
- 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.
- 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.*
- On the big day, the work stations for each child should be set up (preferably with a name tag) when your guests arrive.
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.
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.
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.
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.