Tag Archives: Christmas

Gingerbread House 101, For Those Who Have Experienced Gingerbread House Collapse

17 Dec

Candy decorations courtesy of my eleven year old.

There is one absolutely crucial fact you need to know to prevent structural collapse in your gingerbread home.

It is all about the icing.

If you want your walls and roof to stay where you want them, you MUST get the consistency of the icing right.

Sometimes the directions on the kit will tell you the icing should have the consistency of toothpaste.

Please note: Either they are deliberately lying to you, or else they are brushing with some seriously thick toothpaste! Don’t listen to them.

First of all, don’t even think of it as icing. Think of it as mortar. This will give you a more accurate idea of how thick it should be.

Be very stingy with your water. Make the icing so thick it will bend a spoon. Make it so thick it is like dough, and almost rolls into a ball. Use plenty of it. If you get it thick enough, there is virtually no “drying time”. This best if you have children. Kids like gingerbread houses but they do not like waiting. Waiting is boring. Ask any kid.

Remember that the roof sections of the house will need to fight gravity, unlike the walls. You may need to hold the roof for a few moments, until it sets, to prevent sliding.

When your house is firmly together, you can add very miniscule amounts of water to the remaining icing until it is thickly spreadable, but not at all drippy. Decorate the sides of the house before icing the roof, because it adds weight. The softened icing will allow you to do a little piping (with the bag and nozzle) and ice the roof.

A few other tips:

If your roof has a gap at the top, use more thick frosting and then cover with large gumdrops. No problem.

If you are piping (squeezing with the bag and nozzle) and your icing gets too soft from the warmth of your hands, pop the piping bag into the freezer for a few moments and it will harden up. Just don’t forget it is in there.

To make your house stick to the base, add icing to the undersides of the walls or just add some icing along the bottom edge after it is assembled to prevent slipping. If it looks messy, just slap some candy over it.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun. If it were a job, someone would be paying you. Don’t get upset. It is only gingerbread, not your actual home. If all else fails, just break it apart, frost it, and call it cookies!

Getting Ahead of The Holidays

14 Oct

I like to get an early start.  Don’t hate me for it.

September is when I typically start preparing for Christmas.

I’m not talking about elaborate home decorations—I don’t do that.  It takes up too much time, and too much storage space for the rest of the year.  I’ll leave the fancy decorating to the department stores.  When it comes to decorations, I have only the basics.

And no, I am not really that organized—although I certainly strive to be.  If I were that organized, I probably would have finished this post in September—the same month I started it.  Instead, I became distracted…for a month.

I start my holiday preparations early because I want to avoid unnecessary stress.  Being so easily distracted, I need that extra lead time to stay on top of things so I can have a peaceful holiday.

December is a hectic month for many people, and there is even an urban myth about an increase in suicides during the holidays.  (For more information on this myth, visit the snopes.com: Christmas Suicides page.)

“Hectic month” is the key phrase here.  I know that some people actually enjoy a good adrenaline rush, but I am not one of those people.  Instead, I like to stay serenely ahead of the game.  I do things gradually.

So, in September I start shopping, in October I start addressing the holiday envelopes, and in November I start wrapping.  I use gift bags as much as possible, because they save time and can be easily re-used.  I aim for small, practical, meaningful gifts.  If they don’t take up too much space in my home, they won’t take up too much space in the recipient’s home.

The plan is to have nothing to worry about when December rolls around.  No shopping in crowded stores, no searching endlessly for parking spaces.  I don’t want to be forced to listen to three different versions of Jingle Bells while standing in line to buy whatever the store put on sale that day.

In December, I can relax with a mug of hot chocolate and enjoy the twinkling lights.  Now that’s what I call a holiday!