Post by Ilana Wiles
We Worked Overtime on Our Gingerbread Houses this Year
This year, more than ever, the holidays are going to be all about celebrating at home. I always have a few baking projects up my sleeve, but my favorite is most definitely gingerbread houses. This is because baking involves measurements and timing and science and I really prefer to put my energy fully into decorating. That’s where I really shine.
To make sure the Gingerbread House experience is as fun as possible, I don’t want to deal with making the gingerbread. That sounds difficult. And again, like measurements are important. Nope. I like to buy a kit (one for each of us, actually) and then go crazy with the fixins’. Most kits come with decorating supplies, like the frosting that glues everything together, but I don’t stop there.
This year, I went to the cake decorating shop and got colored chocolates, licorice, candy stars, peppermint and a variety of sprinkles. I also got a big container of raisins, because hear me out here— raisins make for an excellent Gingerbread House aesthetic, adding much needed dark contrast to all that colorful candy. Plus, there are tons of raisins in the container, so you don’t ever have to worry about running out. I had big plans for doing a bit of raisin stone work to the front of my house and a raisin pattern on the roof.
Sun-Maid Raisins have been a trusted snack for our family since I was a kid, when my mom regularly put them in my lunchbox. They are made with nothing but grapes and California sunshine, which means they are a whole fruit with zero added sugars. We always have Sun-Maid Raisins on hand to add into recipes and eat as a stand-alone snack.
When we were all sitting at the table decorating our houses, the raisins ended up being the go-to snack, after everyone got sick of eating candy. Mazzy even mixed a bunch with the chocolate chips, I threw in some peanuts and then we had an easy peasy trail mix snack that was way healthier than mainlining candy stars. You can purchase Sun-Maid California Raisins from Target here.
But enough about trail mix, let’s get to the houses.
My first recommendation is to decorate the walls and roof before you put the house together. That way all of your fancy decorating will have a much better chance of staying put.
Mazzy decided to do a Halloween themed house, since it is her favorite holiday. She made a ghost by the front door and a big spider on the roof. She used raisins for the eyes of the spider and used them to make orange and black Christmas lights. She also used them in a pattern on the side of the house that looked like scary fingers, so I guess raisins are also officially witch fingernails.
Harlow went with a more traditional Christmas chateau, with colorful candy decor, raisin trim and one wall that just went nuts with the peppermint.
I did my fancy raisin stonework on the front, a raisin pattern on the roof and a more traditional holiday house in the back.
Once everything dried (we left them overnight), I put together all three houses. That’s my second recommendation. Building the houses can be hard and frustrating for little ones, especially since there is a risk of breaking one of the pieces. I recommend doing it for them. Of course, if you break it, then you are in trouble. But I think you have a better chance than your kids!
After the houses were fully built, we all gathered around the counter to do some finishing touches. I ended up putting frosting around my raisin stones to make them more inset— I’m pretty proud of how it came out!
The kids added frosting for a more snow covered look and then looked for additional opportunities to layer on more candy decor; like little curtains and raisin trim.
We put them on plates, made peppermint walkways and VOILA!
I think we all did a really great job. And not to brag or anything, but I am particularly proud of MINE!