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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Friday, December 12, 2014

DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids

DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool} Make a party for cheap without loosing your mind.

Add some whimsy to your Christmas season this year by hosting a budget-friendly "gingerbread" house party.

For the past ten years, we've been joining some dear friends to create candy-laden creations for cheap. Here's the secret...

Our gingerbread houses aren't really made of gingerbread.
We use graham crackers instead.

With eight kids from toddlers to teens between us, we've had to devise ways to keep the party do-able for little ones while still maintaining the interest level of older kids.


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DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool}


Here are some of our best tips.

Make your own frosting

Buttercream frosting is simple to make, can be made in really large quantities ahead of time, and may be kept frozen until the day of the party. After preparing the frosting, keep it white, or separate the whole batch into several different containers and use icing gel to dye each portion a different color. (I strongly recommend icing gel vs. regular food dye as the colors are more vibrant and true-to-life.) If you choose to freeze the frosting, be sure to thaw and re-whip it just before using.

Buttercream Frosting

1/2 c solid vegetable shortening
1/c butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. sifted confectioners' sugar
4 T. milk

Directions: Cream the shortening and butter together. Add vanilla. Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time. The mixture will be thick at this point. Add milk one tablespoon at a time and whip until it comes to a desired consistency.  

DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Construct the houses ahead of time

Using a piping bag and a generous portion of frosting, construct the houses before the guests arrive. Frosting is wet and pliable until it sets. Expecting small children to be able to "glue" the graham cracker walls of a house together with wet, pliable frosting is asking for frustration and lots of tears. And the kids won't like it either! Trust.me.

After one not-so-smooth first year of gingerbread house decorating with our children, my friend offered to assemble all of the houses the following year. She's been doing it ever since...bless her!!

To construct a simple graham cracker house

You will need:
4 graham crackers
frosting in a piping bag
a knife
a piece of sturdy cardboard
aluminum foil
tape

Directions:
Begin by completely covering one side of the cardboard with the foil. Fold over the edges of the foil onto the back of the cardboard and secure with tape. This will provide a building space for the house and will make the candy creation easy to transport or move after the party.

Break three of the four graham crackers in half so that they each form two squares. Use four of these squares to make the walls of the house by securing them all together with beaded lines of frosting. Next, take the remaining halves and mount them at angles to form an A-line roof on top of the walls. Using the remaining graham cracker and the knife, cut two triangle shapes and secure them to the front and back of the "A" in the roofline. Allow to set for at least 30 minutes. The frosting will act as cement and help to form a really solid structure. 

DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Create an age-appropriate decorating station

Our decorating process has had to ebb-and-flow over the years due to the ages and stages of our kids. There's really no RIGHT WAY of setting up a decorating station. Always consider your space and the maturity level of the party goers. 

DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Here are three different methods that have worked for us.

DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool}

For preschoolers

Set a house, a paper plate laden with assorted candies, and a napkin at each spot around the dining room table. Place a small bowl filled with frosting and a butter knife between two different spots. Most young kids are not able to pipe frosting themselves, but can be encouraged to use a butter knife or small spatula to spread frosting on sections of their house to act as "glue" for mounting their treats to the walls of the house. Discourage finger licking since the frosting will be shared. Instead, encourage the children to use the napkin that you've provided.

DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool}

For lower to mid elementary

Before party guests arrive, prepare small bowls and spoons with a variety of treats. Each bowl should contain only one kind of candy and should be small enough to be easily passed by little hands. Also, fill additional bowls and a handful of piping bags with frosting. Scatter these around the work space and encourage the guests to share them. Place a house, an empty paper plate, and a napkin at each spot at the table.

When the party begins, pass each small bowl and corresponding spoon clockwise around the table. Instruct the children to spoon one scoop of treats onto their plate and pass the bowl to their neighbor. Once all the treats have gone around the table, the guests may begin piping/spreading frosting and adding candy.

DIY Gingerbread House Party for Kids {The Unlikely Homeschool}

For tweens and teens

Before the party, set a house at each table spot and scatter a handful of frosting-filled piping bags around the workspace to be shared by all. Prepare a candy buffet on a separate counter or table by filling small bowls with candy and providing a stack of paper plates and napkins.

At this stage, you could choose to assemble workstations with tin foil-covered cardboard and a stack of graham crackers OR pre-made houses that you've made yourself ahead of time.

When the party begins, instruct party goers to take turns going to the "buffet" and ladling candy onto a paper plate. They, then, can bring the plates back to their houses and use the candy and piping bags to create edible masterpieces. 

4 comments:

  1. I've wondered about my regular dye being so pale no matter how many drops...gonna try this icing gel. Thanks for the idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Icing gel is so much more vibrant. I've been decorating cakes for about 10 years, and always use icing gel. You can buy individual jars of different colors at Walmart or craft stores, if the mega pack is too spendy.

      Delete
  2. Awesome. we have been tossing around ideas for a holiday themed co op mornings. I had suggested bake ahead sugar cookies and decorate together, but not everyone was keen on eating a cookies that many little hands may have helped to create. This is doable, as no one eats them.... I will suggest this to our little group. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They will make for a great co-op morning! Hope it works out to make them.

      Delete

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