Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our First Gingerbread Party

This past weekend, Corey and I hosted our first ever gingerbread house construction and decorating party. I am so very proud of myself for throwing it because it easily could have become just another one of my good ideas that I never follow through with. But I did follow though, and it turned out even better than I expected!

We had five couples over. They competed against each other to create the best gingerbread home. There were two rules. 1. Everything used in their creation had to be edible. 2. Though a traditional gingerbread house was not required, the finished product had to be something a gingerbread man could live in. The rest was left to their imagination and creativity.

The night before I baked the gingerbread. I found a recipe that was technically edible, but more economical than enjoyable, designed for structural purposes. It took me five grueling, labor-intensive hours to pump out four batches, totaling 48 slabs, of gingerbread. I actually broke a wooden spoon stirring the molasses-y goop and developed four blisters on each hand. I crawled into bed at 1:30am wishing I had opted for graham crackers.

It also made an astronomical mess, as you can see. I was scraping my table and floors with a spatula for days.

Corey played bartender for the evening. He poured farm fresh homemade eggnog and a cocktail he named the "Crandizzle". I laid out a dessert spread that included a gingerbread bundt cake, donut holes, peppermint Joe-Joe's, lemon crisps, cocoa batons, See's candy, and gluten free, dairy free chocolate chip cookies (to accommodate one of our guests).

The Crandizzle - Cranberry juice, vodka, & champagne with sugared cranberry ganish
Each couple began with 8 slabs of gingerbread and an assortment of edible decorations. I also set out four pounds of Royal frosting in little plastic baggies for mortar. Additional building materials and decorations were set in the center of the room on the coffee table.

There was so much candy! Corey and I had a field day at Winco in their bulk candy section. We filled bags of gumdrops, licorice, gummy bears, gummy trees, peach rings, and a ton more. I also asked everyone to bring an edible decoration of some kind to add some variety.

A time limit of an hour was set and everyone got to work. When the building began, I knew my labor the night before was worth it. The gingerbread was strong and durable yet soft enough to cut into shapes. We ended up extending the time limit because no one was even close to finished after an hour... except Will and Nina, who had a pristine gingerbread house completed within the time limit. How did they do it?!

The finished houses were all so good and all so different. I had everyone vote on the best creation.
 Corey and I built a ship with a gummy Santa captain and a gummy bear crew.

Natalie and Marc designed a home for a hobbit.Looks like a Baggins' abode to me!
Photo ever so graciously provided by Natalie Matters
Will and Nina whipped out this classic style cabin, complete with firewood under the porch and pickup truck.
Photo provided by Brittany Wallace

Juliann and Justin styled this "hobo house" lean-to into a believable dwelling.Who knew gingerbread poverty was such an issue?

Brittany and Ryan - well, mostly Brittany - came up with a modern adobe bungalow.
Photo provided by Brittany Wallace

Amber and Sean revved up this amazingly crafted and stunningly detailed van. Another politically charged exposé on gingerbread poverty. We've got to do something about this!
Photo provided by Brittany Wallace

And they won the contest! Good job guys!

The night was so fun. I definitely plan on making it an annual event.

Here's a few more photos from the evening.
My sister and her sweet boyfriend Justin. I could not have finished all the prep for the party without her coming over and helping me beforehand. Thank you again!
Two teams working hard with baby Edgar standing by. Notice our cute little three foot tree!
Me, starting in on the foundations of the ship. Juliann and Justin working on a house that would later tumble and lead them to construct the lean-to.
Ryan, Brittany, and their adorable three-week old Brooklynn.
Corey's thumb and Will and Nina, the most efficient builders of the bunch.
Amber and I at the end of the night