I don't remember making Gingerbread Houses as a child. My mother (bless her brave soul) would have the neighborhood kids over for an afternoon of cookie baking/decorating. I don't have any memories of decorated cookies - just the mess! As an adult, I've only decorated one or two gingerbread houses myself (and they were both with me being the "helper" not the designer). I decided that if we're gonna get good at this, then it's gonna take lots of practice. So this year marks the Feitner Gingerbread House YEAR ONE. (Okay, okay - it's technically a Graham Cracker House - close enough.) Alex is four, and since Harrison's not yet two, we tackled construction and decoration during nap time. (Thank you, God for nap time!)
Generally speaking, Alex doesn't like sweets. If he eats any ice cream (with stress on the "if"), it's maybe one bite, and only of plain vanilla. So, I don't bother buying much candy. He was mesmerized by the spread of sugary goodness that was in front of him. He picked up each type of candy and asked me if he liked it. He then proceeded to tell me whose house he tried it at before, and that he didn't like it then, but maybe he would this time since he's almost 5. The end verdict: he "likes chocolate chips, gummy spiders ('cause they taste like his vitamins), and candy canes. The rest should just go back to the store."
We constructed the frame before Harrison's nap, so that it had the full hour required for the icing to set before decorating. (I learned that in order to use a can of store-bought icing, I needed to add 1/4 tsp Cream of Tarter - this helped make it stiff enough not to collapse).
Since this was the first time we made a Graham Cracker House, I was scarred that I would do something wrong (or Alex would be too rough) and it would collapse, so I made sure to take a picture before we adorned it. But, fortunately (since we didn't have any more graham crackers on hand) it stood the test! I guess the Cream of Tarter trick worked!
Aaron had three jobs during the whole process. 1) Official Taste Tester, 2) Twizzler Cutter, and 3) to talk on the phone with his brother about hunting - guns - bullets - etc. Not very festive, but very "guy."
Alex's attention started to wane by the time it came to finish the back of the house, so he gave me all the pieces needed, and I did the decorating. But he's the one who decided what went where on the whole house. I'm so proud of him! (And of me for not taking over.)
I believe very firmly that LIFE is the best form of education. Any experience can be used as a learning experience. Alex learned that gummy spiders stick to windows. (Hey - that could become very useful later in life - who knows what kinda prank he'll want to pull on a friend!)
A spider even found itself creeping up to the back door. Why? Because a 4 year old boy was making this house. That's why.
Voila! Alex's very first Gingerbread House! This is the first picture taken of the completed house. But, Alex was quite distraught that it looked like it was on fire, so we had to rearrange a couple things and start the photo shoot all over again.
That's better. A few weeks ago a girlfriend bought me a gingerbread house from Bath and Body Works (along with a glorious Winter candle). After reading about how I was in need of ideas for our own gingerbread house, she knew it was the right gift for me. And I simply love it! They look great together warming up in front of the fire on this chilly snowy day.