We started it the year Grace was born. She was only 10 months old, but we decided to have a team competition making gingerbread houses. My husband and Grace were on one team, and my grown niece, Carla and I were the other team. We bought gingerbread house kits, built them, decorated them, and then I took pictures and emailed them to everyone I knew so they could vote on their favorite house.
This is our 8th year of making gingerbread houses, and the competition is getting fierce. We now have 4 entries, as two of my other nieces joined the contest last year, along with my nephew and Carla’s fiancé. My son Luke has been added to my team since he is only 5 and mostly only cares about eating the candy. I joke that if anyone else wants to join the contest, we are going to have to rent a hall because my table isn’t big enough. The creativity everyone brings to the table is amazing. We never use only the candy that comes with the kit. I’ve been collecting candy since right after last Christmas, when we bought a bunch on clearance. We use cereal, pretzels, coconut, marshmallows, old Halloween candy that no one will eat. We also make a rule every year that you can only use edible items, and that rule is always immediately broken (usually when we assemble the houses using hot glue because they stay together so much better). Some people, who will remain nameless, even steal the baby Jesus from my nativity scene to use in their display. In the past few years, we have spent more time and energy decorating what we call “the yard” of our house than the actual house.
We usually start our adventure with a trip to a local place that has a giant gingerbread display of their own. Then we follow up with dinner at my place, and then the contest begins. My favorite part is the laughter and teasing that goes on, and trying to find ways to disqualify the other teams. Voting now takes place mostly on Facebook, and we have received great feedback and people seem to look forward to getting the pictures and placing their votes. Last year I made a traveling trophy out of a gingerbread house ornament that I glued to a votive holder. I am proud to say that it is currently displayed in my house.