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How to have a Stress-free Gingerbread house party

Monday, December 19, 2016
I've actually never made/attempted to decorate a gingerbread house for the holidays but for some reason i thought it would be a great idea to have family friends over (who we haven't seen in a while) to come hang out and let the kids go to town with some gingerbread house decorating.  and thanks to Pinterest, it seemed like it would be so easy and so fun and so instagrammable and guess what...it was!

Excited is an understatement to describe the kids. it was THE talk of the house all weekend. It was a good thing i decided last minute to set up the table until the morning of the party because I seriously had some toddler ninjas sneaking mischievous glances at the boxes (and candy!) as soon as i set them up on our dining room table.
I tested all the kits! ALL OF THEM!

and what boxes? these boxes?  here's a tip:  STRESS-FREE = PRE-MADE.  yup. look for preassembled houses! I was a little skeptical of this but thanks to Michael's for having a RIDICULOUS sale on these gingerbread kits, i ended up going bananas in the store buying 2 of every type of kit.  Premade, assembly-required, Trolls-branded, frozen-branded,  train kit. I was like why not and at $3-$5 a box (yes, $3!)  time is money and labor is labor - make it easy, folks! and the good thing is that in the future (so easy i already know we'll do it again), I know what to get.
Let's get this party started!

Planning
  • Keep it simple. I went to target but i may have been better off at the dollar store. i already had extra-large burlap looking paint drop-cloths that i used as our table cover. I then bought a red plastic table cover to add some color as well as paper plates and napkins and treat wrapping bags.
  • Buy bulk candy: M&Ms, dots, jr mints, sprinkles, etc. The closer you get to christmas the more your chances are that these go on sale. Michael's has a cake decorating dept so a lot of the cake/cookie decorating icing toppers (like north pole signs, doors, windows, etc) were like 50% off  and holiday decor was a whopping 70%off whereas at target they were still full price.
  • Premake the gingerbread houses if you're not going the pre-assembled route. I fortunately caught this tip by reading some pinterest posts and then reading the back of the boxes. Fail to do this and you'll spend most of your party time playing property brothers trying to assemble and hold the houses to stay up and letting the icing set. this also lets kids get ot the fun part of decorating right away. 
  • Premake royal icing (your "glue") the night before or at least 3 hours before
  • make a few extra houses for the grown-ups who may want to get into the action!

Party flow
  • Before the sugar high set in, we did a pizza party (no MAKING FOOD! - just order!)
  • We were celebrating P's bday so the grown-ups had champagne 
  • After pizza, it was decorating time.
  • After decorating time, it was onto play-time for the kids. And for the adults, we broke out the holiday cocktails and started making cranberry margaritas (delicious!)
  • Then it was on to wrapping up of the houses and goodbyes.
Pizza!
Viv loves Frozen so she had Elsa's palace.
Jule's North Pole home




Takeaways:
  • The Wilton brand of pre-assembled gingerbread houses are my pick for stess-free. literally unwrap and get to decorating!
  • The wilton brand of royal icing that comes with those kits is also top-notch for setting quickly! though i made royal icing it didn't have the cement-like consistency which makes assembly easy. we ended up using my icing not for house assembly but for decorating
  • the Cookie International brand of gingerbread houses (usually the licensed versions - so the Frozen, Shopkins, Trolls, etc versions were all from the same company) comes with these plastic trays to help assemble/set the homes- so easy. these were great and  I would buy this brand if i opted to assemble.
  • beware of the candy overload - watch the kids! they will be sneaking in bites! ALOT!
  • I'd give this a good 45 min so unless you have a short party time, plan for an activity afterwards. We let the kids play in the girls room but then sugar chaos set-in and we eventually calmed them down for another 45 min with half of a minions movie.
  • If you're having a large group of kids and buying premade breaks the bank, graham crackers were the next alternative everyone online seemed to suggest vs baking your own gingerbread.
  • Have fun and participate! 









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