How do you thank a group of friends for supporting you, helping you and being there all year? Well, if you are me you give their families a party and show their children how to make a gingerbread house. That is what I did this week for grandma school.
It was so much fun. The terrible wind kept some home but those that were there had a wonderful time. I have done this project every year for well over 30 years with children of all ages. I helped two kindergarten classes every year for over 20 years. It was a looked forward to tradition in our town. Maggie, who needs help got to practice a lot of things – letting go of small things, squeezing a bag, picking up small things…she had a great time!
This is a project that any family can do. What you need are a few tips and the right recipes! Trust me, the recipe makes all the difference.
How to make Gingerbread Houses for Kids:
• Call your local school and get some empty milk cartons at lunch time
• Buy graham crackers and lots of small candies, raisins and marshmallows
• Snip off the top of the carton (where it is sealed) and tape it shut. Now it looks like a house
• Lay carton on its side on a sheet of paper and trace
• Lay carton on its front on a sheet of paper and trace
• Lay pattern on graham cracker and using a serrated knife (plain will not do!) cut out the sides and front and back (if you need a tiny trim use scissors)
• The left over pieces of cracker should make a fine roof
• Cut a door and three window from the scraps
• Make the frosting and put into disposable decorating bags or the corner part of a sturdy Ziploc. Cut off tip
• If using a decorating bag rubber band it shut so the frosting stays inside : )
• Using frosting glue carton to a Styrofoam plate or square of waxed paper
• Using the frosting glue the sides and front and back to the carton. Add roof pieces. Use plenty of frosting.
• Put the door and windows in place
• Cover the seams one at a time with the frosting and add candy
• Finish decorating the house any way you want
Tips to help parents have fun making gingerbread house:
• Mentally prepare for a messy table, fingers and shirt fronts
• Kids will suck on the decorating bag. Get over it!
• Some kids will put NO candy on their house, it will all go inside them. Just accept it : )
• One child will always put their windows or door on the roof. Let them!
• Most children under 5 do not cover all the seams. They don’t care. Let it go : )
• Most kids under 5 do not place their candy on the house in an even manner. It is usually on one side and on one side of the roof. Just accept it.
• I have never had a child who didn’t love their house, no matter how it looked, even the ONE child who put NO candy on the house. They all love their work! Don’t spoil it!!
• If you fix their house so that all the seams are covered or so it looks “good” it is no longer their house. It is yours. Don’t be selfish.
Little kids sometimes do need some help. Help as little as possible. don’t take over.
I hope you have a wonderful time making a village for your home and just plain enjoying one another’s company. When you are done with the houses add some pop corn, hot coco, a good Christmas story and lots of hugs for a perfect family activity.
Frosting for Gingerbread Houses:
Royal Frosting (Egg White)
Bear in mind that royal frosting made with egg whites lasts only a few hours and breaks down with the least hint of oil or grease. All utensils, bags etc. must be grease free for this to whip and hold its shape. It cannot be re-beaten for later use. Not my choice for use with kids!
3 egg whites 1 pound powdered sugar
½ tsp cream of tarter (optional) can be purchased in the spice aisle of your grocery store.
In mixer add sugar slowly to egg whites. When entirely mixed turn on high and whip until it looks like marshmallow cream in a jar. (Takes about 10 minutes with a hand mixer, a bit less with a larger mixer)
Royal Frosting (Meringue Powder)
This frosting is much easier to make and handle. Grease does not break it down as easily and it can be re-beaten for later use. It can be stored in covered container for up to 6 months. Meringue powder can be purchase at some craft stores and any store that sells cake decorating supplies. Worth the extra cost!
¼ cup meringue powder ½ cup water
4 cups or 1 pound powdered sugar
Mix the meringue powder and water…beat until it peaks. Add the sugar (1/2 cup more for stiffer frosting) ½ cup at a time on low and then beat on high to desired consistency. This will beat up a bit more quickly than the egg white version.
Royal frosting dries as hard as cement and dries quickly so keep it covered at all times with a damp cloth or in a tightly covered bowl. Keep any utensils, tip, bags etc. covered also. As you use it on your house do a small section at a time because if it “crusts up” things don’t stick as well.
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