gingerbread4.jpgGingerbread houses are one of my favorite holiday traditions. However, they can be quite a project. Especially when it comes to involving your kids. My husband’s family loves to get together for a night of gorging on candy as we decorate these aromatic treats. As our family has grown (we have 17 nieces and nephews and 2 more on the way,) we have had to scale down a little. Now we decorate giant cookies and the kids like it even more than doing whole houses. I think it is great because they can do as much as they are interested in. The older kids do at least a few and the younger ones might do one…or just sample decorations. Another benefit is that you can choose how elaborate or simple you want to go.gingerbread1.jpg

Check the project outlines for quick directions and recipes.

There are cookie cutters available, but I think it is fun to cut out your own. Roll out the dough and let the kids use butter knives or if they are older, a pairing knife, to cut out house, Christmas tree, girl, or boy…whatever you want! We like to make them big, so that one will barely fit on a plate. The edges will get puffy and distorted a little. When they are still warm from the oven, you can easily cut more defined edges. This is good for the windows and doors.gingerbread2.jpg

One decoration that is easy to make and very impressive is “window glass” My nieces and nephews LOVE it and use it all over. They also think it is magically delicious, which is funny since it is just unflavored hard candy. We also love taffy, which can be molded like clay into people or decorations. Gum drops also do well with this and make pretty leaves. We also like red hots, licorice (especially the pull apart kind), m&ms and sixlets, runts, and nerds. There are always great Christmas themes items such as pretzels in tree and star shapes, gummy Santas, and little cookies. gingerbread3.jpg
Not having to worry about getting walls to stand up or a collapsing roof takes the stress out of this great tradition. Your kids can do whatever they want on their own personal cookies. Which makes this a great family night activity to just relax and enjoy each other and a lot of sweet treats.