This is the first page of journaling from my gingerbread photo album:
Since 1999, the Schafers and the Webber families have come together to make gingerbread “houses” for the Holborn Community Hall Children’s Christmas Party. It started out as a one-time event, but has really evolved into a yearly tradition for our families! The projects are completed over 3 days: one day where the themes are decided and the templates are made; one day where Trish & Susan make the dough and bake the pieces; the last day where we all assemble and decorate and let loose with the creativity. We have so much FUN!
This tradition is one that is eagerly anticipated by all the family members. When the kids were smaller, they would ask and ask and ask and ask “When, Mom?” Now as both families have teenagers, the question is “We’re still doing gingerbread right? We’re not too old!”
Our gingerbread creations were built and donated to our local hall. It was raffled off and we had many years, where families would buy more than 50 tickets, just so that they could have bragging rights to winning it. Often, that led to a Gingerbread Wrecking party! This year marked a change though—as the community hall members dwindle and volunteers are not as abundant, the Children’s Christmas Party was cancelled. It was a sad day when the decision was made, but both families wanted to continue making the kids’ houses (they started decorating their own houses in 2002).
There are so many traditions associated with this event: the tried and true recipe (see below), using holidays and trips away to scout out different candy stores and find just the “right” type of candy to fit our theme, pouring over books, magazines and in recent years, scouting Pinterest and other internet sources for new inspiration.
We have had only one rule over the years: everything had to be edible! The candy alone is worth talking about: we have about 6 big tubs full of different types of candy. I realize it might be just a bit of overkill, but you need just the “right” candy. We have everything from pretzels to nerds, suckers to chocolate rocks, wafer cookies to mint sticks. When it is set out, there are about 3 large tables of candy to choose from. Our kids never had a pre-made, store-bought kit and would probably never be happy with the measly choices of candy that are included in those kits. Of course, everyone has special favorite candies, and taste testing is all part of the experience!
Here’s a few themes from over the years: traditional church and farm scenes, castle, Santa’s Workshop, the Santa-Oh-Oh-Oh! (Pirates of the Caribbean shipwreck), grain elevator, Olympic Village, Alberta Legislature (to celebrate Alberta’s 100th birthday), a space ship and a Gingerbread train. We never ran out of ideas!
Times change—now there are boyfriends and girlfriends joining in, sometimes other families pitch in to help out, but the best part is just being together, being creative and having fun. I’m looking forward to next year already.
This is our tried and true gingerbread dough recipe. We always use a royal icing recipe for assembly and decorating, made with readily-available meringue powder. You can click the recipe to see a larger, print-ready version.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas! Enjoy the season, create traditions and celebrate the time with your family!