Holiday Décor– Gingerbread Style!

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It’s holiday season and the clock is ticking closer to my favorite holiday of them all—Christmas!

When it comes to Christmas, I’m a sucker for it all—decorations, gift buying and giving, singing carols, gatherings with family and friends, and the baking. Especially the baking!

Years ago when my girls were younger I started a tradition of baking and decorating a gingerbread house together. It’s not a simple process, more like a several-day process.

It all started when I came across a how-to bake a gingerbread house from scratch VHS tape (yes, I’m dating myself here) called the Magic of Gingerbread Houses.

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From whipping up the cookie batter, to cutting out individual pieces by hand, to decorating the sides and allowing them to dry overnight, to assembling the house, and finally to decorating the roof and the surrounding yard/landscape.

It’s not a one afternoon process. But, we would start the Christmas carols playing and enjoy the family time. And once we were done, we had managed to create one of my favorite decorations in our house. A beautiful masterpiece (in our eyes anyway) that made the house smell sugary sweet!

The first few years we made one house together. Eventually my girls decided they’d like to try making their own and we created a three-house neighborhood. Soon we were moving on to a city center with a beauty salon, two-story dance studio and the mayor’s mansion. One year we made a country house with an airplane hangar and runway in its backyard.

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Another year, being the diehard Chicago Cubs fans that we are, we created Wrigley Field with mini gummi bears as Cubs fans and a signature bar with rooftop seating across the street.

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Another year we decided to try our hand at creating some of our favorite places to visit. My youngest built a large two story house in Santorini with a sandy (brown sugar) beach leading to the ocean that connected it to the Roman Coliseum and a pavilion in Guell Park in Barcelona.

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Once all my daughters left for college I figured the tradition might not last. Their time at home was now limited. Life changes happen. But that first year they were all off to school, when December rolled around my girls started sending texts asking about designs or they scoured the internet and swapped house plans with each other to see which they’d like to try.

So I bought the supplies and once they arrived home, we started the music and got to work– together. In recent years we’ve created gingerbread neighborhoods like this one.

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and this one

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And three separate houses displayed together or separated around the house.

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Last year, with my oldest home for only a short time and my middle daughter volunteering out of the country throughout the holidays, once again I was dismayed to think that we may not take the time for gingerbread houses.

Thankfully, my youngest saved the day by deciding she wanted to be adventurous and create the Eiffel Tower. She found a template on-line, then I used my stellar math skills (read that as: the most math this English major had used a looooong time) to double the measurements so I could cut out our template. It was simple, yet elegant and served as the perfect table centerpiece on our lazy-susan.

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Yes, our home is sprinkled with other decorations—both inside and out. But when it comes down to it, some of my absolute favorite decorations are the houses we’ve created together. It reminds me of the power of tradition to bond families and people. Of the time my girls and I have spent together over the years. The fun we’ve had breaking the houses on New Year’s Eve and enjoying the fruits of our labor.

But more important than those gingerbread houses are the memories we’ve made—as always, together.

 

What about you… Is there a decoration you have that for whatever reason is your favorite? I’d love to hear what it might be.

 

Also, I encourage you to hop on over to visit my Firebird sisters Jean Willett, Sharon Wray, Tamra Baumann and Kay Hudson. Like me they’re sharing about their holiday décor, too!

 

I wish you the most blessed, joyous holiday season!!!

 

 

 

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Comments (20)

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    Sharon Wray

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    Oh my gosh, Priscilla! I love gingerbread houses but the few times I’ve tried to make one they’ve fallen apart. What a wonderful way to connect to your girls and such great way to make Christmas memories. I wish I could see them in person and I really wish I could help you eat them! Merry Christmas!!!

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      I’d love for you to join us for the demolition and eating, Sharon! 🙂

      As for houses that fall apart, we use Royal Icing and it dries like cement– but it’s tastier. 🙂

      Happy Holidays!

      Reply

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    Tamra Baumann

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    Pris, those gingerbread houses are amazing! You gals are so talented. The few times we made them, my kids got bored before we were done and I had to finish them. (Funny my daughter turned out to have an architecture degree, no?) Neither of my kids really liked the taste of gingerbread, so my son had more fun “bombing them with his little airplanes” when they were done rather than eating them. :0)

    Might be a fun thing to try again now that they are all grown up! What a great tradition!

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      We thought about leaving one half built and posing a small construction truck in front of it. We used to place my girls’ figurines in the houses or yards. 🙂

      Reply

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    Jean Willett

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    WOW! A gingerbread village! So unique and such a wonderful photo display of memories. I’m happy to know you can eat them, too. I should probably go rewrite my blog..lol. I love Christmas and all the baking as well. Merry Christmas, Pris! May 2016 be your year 🙂

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      Hi Jean– may 2016 be OUR year! 🙂

      Yes, we definitely eat our houses, that’s part of the fun. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas! Hugs

      Reply

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    Kay Hudson

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    Pris, those are adorable! I am SO impressed. I never got past making gingerbread men with my grandmother and cousins, and that was a very long time ago. I love your villages, but who else would build a gingerbread ball park? And the Eiffel Tower! What a wonderful tradition.

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      Well, we wouldn’t enter any gingerbread house contests– we’re definitely far from being pros, but we have fun creating our designs. 🙂

      Can’t wait to see what my girls have decided for this year. They get home late next week!

      Reply

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    Bridget Hodder

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    Wow! So impressive! You also brought back memories of the days when my boys and I used to make gingerbread houses…what a wonderful reminder of the season.

    Reply

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    Priscilla

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    Thanks for stopping by, Bridget! I think whatever our family holiday traditions are, they provide opportunities for special memories together. I can just see you and your boys in the kitchen having fun! 🙂

    Reply

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    Maria Powers

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    Wow. Those are incredible engineering feats with Gingerbread. I stand in awe and amazement and despite the bum knee, I’m thinking of falling to the ground and whispering that I am not worthy.

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      Too funny, Maria! I think I mentioned to someone else, we’re not pros, but we do have fun. If you look closely (in real life) you can see that they’re made by a mom and her kids having fun. 🙂

      Reply

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    heather ashby

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    These are AMAZING, Priscilla!!! And what a wonderful family tradition to do this with your daughters every year! LOVW Wrigley Field!!! I used to do the simplified version with my 3rd or 5th graders every year for our Holiday party. Everyone was so busy decorating their little houses, I didn’t have to come up with any games or other activities 🙂 And the only thing they ate was a cupcake. Okay, the moms sent in a set of un-iced cupcakes and the kids could use the leftover icing and house decorations for their (DISGUSTING!) cupcakes. A VERY simple party. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Hugs.

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      Heather, sounds like a great way to keep your students entertained and using their imagination. 🙂

      Wishing you and your family a blessed holiday season!! Hugs

      Reply

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    Wendy LaCapra

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    OMG these pics made my day. You are SO talented. What a wonderful tradition!! I tried making one once and I learned that my architectural skills leave much to be desired. 🙂 I am SO impressed. Happy Holidays!

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      Wendy, I’m sure if we hadn’t started off by watching the how-to video (multiple times), we would have experienced some wobbly houses. 🙂 Over the years we’ve done some trial and error with some ideas, but the errors just mean we have treats to eat while we consider other options. 🙂

      Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

      Reply

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    Tracy Brody

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    My daughter also does the ginger bread houses most years. She’s the artsy one so I don’t help. She’d love the Patriotic USA one y’all made, but I can totally see her deciding to do the Eiffel Tower if I showed her the pictures – then it would take over my dining room or kitchen so — shhh!

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      Tracy, ours tend to take over during the creating process. And when we do a little village or multiple houses, they usually take up a counter between the kitchen and dining room area becoming part of our decorations. 🙂

      Would love to see a pic of your daughter’s creations!

      Reply

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    Jen Gilroy

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    I’m in awe, Pris. My daughter and I bake a birthday cake for Baby Jesus every Christmas but the decorating of it is modest!

    My favourite ornament is a cuddly reindeer that’s as old as I am and dates from my first Christmas.

    Reply

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      Priscilla

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      Jen, I love the idea of a birthday cake for Baby Jesus! 🙂

      What a beautiful treasure to have an ornament from your first Christmas. I have the ones from my daughters’ first Christmases, but not mine. That’s wonderful!

      Reply

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