Like a too-heavy topper on a wobbly Christmas tree, a holiday party can be the final touch that sends you crashing to the floor. Most of us are just one too many ornaments away from the nuthouse this time of year.
But done right, parties can be tons of fun and (relatively) stress-free.
On that note, here's a fool-proof how-to for hosting a gingerbread house decorating party. And by gingerbread, we mean graham crackers. And by house, we mean questionable structures. And by party, we mean gathering of pseudo-adults who enjoy eating candy and playing with toys.
Stock up on supplies.
This means any and all kinds of candy, plus the obvious boxes of graham crackers and ingredients for icing. Good candy/decor options include:
- Peanuts (as bricks)
- Rock candy
- Peppermint swirls
- Gummy bears and other animals
- Pretzel sticks (trees, logs)
- Sprinkles of various colors, shapes, textures
- Chex or Frosted Mini Wheats (tiles, roofs)
Also -- knives and mini spatulas -- anything good for spreading.
Hint: Buy enough candy so it also serves as an appetizer. People will nosh on this shit anyway, so you might as well be prepared.
Make extra icing.
You can never have too much. Make a couple batches in different colors. A simple recipe is as follows:
- 1 pound confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Whip all ingredients together in a stand mixer, on high, for five to seven minutes or until stiff peaks form and the icing is shiny.
Have structural support options.
Gingerbread architecture is surprisingly difficult, so it helps to have small cardboard boxes, plastic bowls or other structural support elements your guests can use as crutches.
Use cardboard or baking sheets for bottoms.
You can cover 'em with plastic wrap. Then, when you're done, guests can either carry their home on cardboard, or you can trash the ones on baking sheets, no clean-up required.
Print out ideas.
It can be tough to spontaneously come up with anything other than your standard four-walled house with a fence. Boring. There are eight gazillion ideas on Pinterest from people with too much time on their hands. Learn from them.
Be ok with trashing everything afterward.
Does anyone actually eat gingerbread houses? Not likely. And your friends probably won't want to carry their creations home. Throwing these works of architectural genius in the dumpster will sting a little -- but heck, at least a raccoon family might get a meal out of 'em at the city dump. Bright side.
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Come party time, pop open some eggnog, have a drink and relax. Play some Christmas tunes and create a brilliant masterpiece in graham cracker. Clean up will be easy as pie. But sorry, we can't do much about the other 85,000 things on your to-do list, so enjoy the stress-free shindig while you can.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.