Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Gingerbread Party--Overview

Ahh...Christmas is just around the corner!    This blog is focused on a tradition in our home, and will hopefully inspire (and guide) others to have their own gingerbread parties.

This is how it works.  Someone, first, has to take on the challenge and the work involved in baking/buying/acquiring the house parts and then assembling them.  This can be done as a group effort amongst friends, but someone needs to take lead and be sure that things are getting done.

You need to decide where the party will be-- room for several tables for decorating houses is a plus.  And you will have to choose a date.  Plan a menu before you do the invitations if you are going to ask attendees to bring something along.  It is a simple step to just include that on the invitation.

Send the invitations along with RSVP information.  The need to know how many will attend is critical to planning and preparing.

Start buying your supplies now.  Look for molasses on sale, and spices--cinnamon, ginger, cloves,  and cream of tartar.

House parts can be made out of Graham Crackers--but I have found them to be difficult to work with. It is hard to break a graham cracker along an even edge.  And this is another tip--watch for Halloween Haunted House Kits to go on clearance sale November 1st. This can save work if you are of the mind to buy the house parts.  They are usually chocolate flavored and taste horrible.  But...most people don't eat them anyhow.  Birds will eat them if you set them outside near a feeder.  I will share my gingerbread recipe in a later post. And it is good, and there are regulars who come and decorate a house--them take it home and eat it. And there are regulars who would never think of eating their masterpieces.  Instead they take them home and varnish them--that works too as long as you store them in a mouse-proof place.

Also, the BEST tip I can give you...DO shop November 1st for half-off clearance Halloween candy.  A rough estimate of how much you will need is about a 12 ounce bag of candy per house. Keep in mind that each house will have several kinds of candy on it--so the 12 ounces is more a total combined figure.  Some people will be use less, and some will use MUCH more. Stories will follow of decorating fun.

This is hard because I want to tell you everything at once.  Just know that this is a great get-together, one from which memories are made.

The houses we decorate are small, and quite humble. Not done by professionals, the goal is fun, but the outcome is so much more.

Village decorated by 4 people and donated to a charity auction.
In ensuing posts, I will share tips, tricks, basic instructions on assembly, and suggestions to help you avoid things I have learned the hard way.  And there will be tons of photos shared!  Most will include the smiling faces of the creators of each they a 90 year old or  a 1 year old, beaming with pride at the first house they ever decorated.  One recipe of dough makes parts for approximately 5 houses.  It contains 6 cups of flour--for any bakers out there to give you an idea.  I bake one batch a night ahead of time.   Then I store the cooled parts stacked against each other in a plastic tote.  It takes several hours the night before the party for me to assemble approx 25 houses. They do better staying together if they have a few hours for the royal icing to dry.  I do invest some time in my parties, but if you manage your time well, a gingerbread party will not take over your life.