While Vin went off to work on Saturday, the kids and I spent all day in our pajamas decorating gingerbread. We made a house and a bunch of men. We have a few tricks when it comes to decorating our gingerbread. They are:
1) We don’t bake our own. We can and we have but as far as gingerbread goes, I think decorating it is where the fun is at. So we spend our baking day making something different (like these) and gingerbread day actually frosting and using pounds and pounds of candies.
2) We use bottled frosting to decorate the men. So easy for the kids and a great consistency. If you don’t make it too warm, it actually pipes-out and stays on the cookie fairly well. It’s not good to use on the house though. More on that in a bit.
Every year I purchase a few of the Wilton gingerbread kits. They came out with some new ones this year, like edible ornaments and cookie pops. We actually have the cookie pop box sitting on our dining room table, just waiting to be ripped open.
This year we used these:
We bought the extra box of decorations since we wanted the lights for our house. I love the gingerbread men especially. They are a great size and look perfect. No mixing dough, rolling, cutting & baking. You open the kit up and get right to the fun: decorating!
It’s awesome to have on hand (psst: I use it for the tops of my Oreo Truffles too!) Each kid got a bottle of white icing to decorate with. Grace looked especially proud to be decorating cookies where design was 100% her own idea (scroll back up and notice eyeball placement). You warm it at 50% power in the microwave and as long as it doesn’t get too warm and runny, it works perfectly.
Then we moved onto our house. The house takes more work because you need to prep it. We made the packaged icing that came inside the kit for this and I really recommend that you do too (or make your own fairly stiff royal icing). You need something very strong to hold the walls and roof together. They are heavy!
First I “glued” all of the walls together. It sat under construction like the picture above for about 45 minutes. If you try to move too quickly and do the roof right away, your house is definitely going to collapse. The icing bottles were lending some support here.
We made the door and windows out of decorated graham crackers. This worked quite well because the kids could decorate on a napkin in front of them as opposed to pressing onto the house and risking it falling down.
Emily made the front door. Andrew and Grace made the windows. This picture is a large stained glass window Emily made for the back to cover up some disaster I created back there. I was trying to make a big circle window with pink gumdrops but they ended up arranged like a cross, and I wasn’t digging out church-themed gingerbread house. So Emily made this large window, we scraped my gum drops off and voila – my 7 year old saved the day.
Emily made the front door, star walkway and she trimmed the roof with the colored balls. Andrew made some windows, the trees and helped Emily place the gumdrops along the roof’s peak. Grace made some windows and then continued eating all of the candy.
“Decorating gingerbread is fun, especially when we stay in our pajamas all day!”
Graham crackers, frosting and candies. If you are working with small children you may want to use a small milk carton too (the size served with school lunches). You can actually frost the carton down to your base (plate, cake board, etc) and then frost the graham crackers right onto the carton’s sides. The only problem is that I doubt you’d want to eat the graham crackers off after they were on the outside of a carton. Ick! We made a whole gingerbread village last year following this graham + frosting method and we didn’t build them around cartons. So either way works.
This past Monday, Andrew’s school hosted it’s annual 1st Grader’s Gingerbread Party. Each kid had the option to make a small house or a train. Andrew chose the train.