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Gingerbread House Party 2011 (40 photos)


Drinks table all set up. We had punch, hot cocoa, mulled cider, and pomegranate-lime white sangria.

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I'm sure you're being absolutely flooded with Christmastime submissions right now, but I had a couple ideas in our annual gingerbread house decorating party this year that I thought were particularly fun.

My family has made thousands of gingerbread houses over the past 36 years.  Yes, thousands.   We have this thing down to a science, and it just wouldn't feel like Christmas without the amazing scent of gingerbread filling the house and a city of sweet little houses covering every available surface.  Last night we hosted the first of four gingerbread house decorating parties we'll be throwing this year (one for family and friends, one for the girl scout troop, one for each of my daughters' classmates).

Now, at these parties, we have a truly obscene amount of candy.  And as much of the icing gets squirted directly into little mouths as makes it on the houses.  No real need for a dessert table, and we mostly focus on serving savory foods as an antidote to the sugar overload.  But I came up with a really fun idea this year--no dessert table, true, but the backdrops to the food and beverage tables WERE a dessert display!

I've always had a soft spot for folk art paintings, and decided that I wanted my table backdrops to be reminiscent of a country scene in that style of art.  I created layered, somewhat 3-dimensional hills out of Styrofoam sheets, and created all of my buildings and trees out of sugar cookies on sticks.  All the buildings, trees, sleighs, snowmen, and Santas you see are cookies pops!  I hung red curtains (recognize them from the Egyptology party?  I love recycling elements in new ways) on either side of the backdrop both to cover raw edges and make it look like we were gazing on a wintery country scene outside a window (much more festive and seasonal than the view of our 70 degree Phoenix backyard).

We served pizza from our wood-fired oven, spinach and artichoke dip, cheese and homemade rosemary sea-salt crackers, roasted chestnuts, chex mix (yeah, we're classy like that ), and bacon-date-goat cheese strudel.

The beverage station was a ton of fun.  I made homemade hot cocoa and mulled cider, and had Styrofoam hot beverage cups (with lids!  Lots of kids!) with custom homemade cup cozies that matched the party decor (a take-home favor).  The beverage table also held my favorite part of the party.  I came up with the idea of what I call "Mixie Sticks."  They look like that old candy favorite, Pixie Stix, but they're actually flavor add-ins to mix in your cocoa.  I made cinnamon, mint, and espresso mix-ins for the cocoa.  Kids and adults alike had so much fun customizing their cocoa flavors, and one little girl reported that the cinnamon was excellent in the mulled cider, too!

Vendors--pretty much me, again.  I was the photographer, stylist, baker, and chef (well, my husband made the pizzas, but I made the dough ).  I did use the magnificent Modern Frills ( for my younger daughter's shirt.  It was absolutely perfect for my theme and I snatched it up the moment I saw it.  But I sewed the skirts the girls are wearing and my older daughter's shirt.  The other vendor that needs to be mentioned is the magnificent Paula of Frog Prince Paperie ( ).  I used her fabulous new Merry Little Christmas line of printables to embellish the party, and used her designs as inspiration for many of the decorative elements I made (like the wrapping paper table runners, the color scheme, the cup cozy designs, etc. ).

As each family left the party, they made a stop at the photo booth near the door.  Nobody could leave without me getting a photo of the magnificent gingerbread creations and their artists!  The photo backdrop I used for the photobooth was originally used for the backdrop of the Sugar Plum Fairy party I designed last year ( ).  The Santa beards were originally made for the Gnome party  featured on a HWTM Friday roundup ( ).  Like I said, I love to recycle elements in fun new ways!

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