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Christmastime makes me especially nostalgic…

This weekend our girls- and Little Man- will host their 7th annual Gingerbread House decorating party. It’s such a fun Christmas tradition.

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our first gingerbread party in 2008, look at that tiny precious

Husband and I pre-assemble the graham-cracker abodes, so there’s less engineering and more decorating munching for the kidlets in attendance. I always think they resemble tiny little communist villages, with their stark uniformity, before the creative embellishments of eager sticky fingers.

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2nd annual, circa 2009

Then I whip up a colossal vat of royal icing (simple recipe below) and invite friends over, encouraging them to bring along a bag of candy to share– for variety’s sake.

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scrumptious commie village on the pool table, exactly what husband intended it for (2010)

Three years in, Clever Husband got the bright idea to tape off the floors with coordinating dollar store plastic tablecloths, ala a Dexter killroom, which helps tremendously with cleanup (if you are lacking in the canine department).

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The trick to ensure solid construction is to assemble the houses not with icing, but with melted granulated sugar– which acts exactly like hot glue when liquefied on the stovetop (on low). This way, though the structures are solid and strong, they remain entirely edible. A word of caution: Melted sugar burns like hot glue, as well. Wear gloves or go slow, though the sugar-glue itself dries quite quickly.

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in 2011 we moved into a tiny condo, awaiting an international move, so the girls hosted their gaggle of friends at church

We fill the crockpot with spiced apple cider and put out mugs for kids & parents to sip from, as mass consumption of candy can leave one pretty parched! I’ll never forget the year I dumped about 2 tablespoons of cloves into the cider– it took us a while to figure out why all our lips were tingly. Turns out you only need like 2 or 3 tiny cloves to spice up a whole kettle!

I failed to locate a photo from 2012, when we took the party to the girls’ respective school classrooms– we made about 50 of them that year! I was likely too frazzled to remember to snap a picture.

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2013 with some of our favorites

This year we’re having the neighbors over. We seriously hit the neighbor jackpot when we moved to Bozeman, and we’ll be sad to leave them if/when our house ever sells.

Royal icing recipe:

1 1/2 C powdered sugar

2 1/2 tbsp. softened butter

2 1/2 tbsp. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Multiply as many times as necessary to get the quantity you need, then whisk it all up with a mixer. I confess I mostly eyeball it, adding a bit more of this or that as I go, and I never mess it up. Foolproof.

 

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