Hosting a Children's Gingerbread House Christmas Party
Every year since 1989 we have hosted a Gingerbread House Party for our children and their friends.
It is always on the first Friday of December, always the same, and always a big hit with parents and children alike. Anyone can do this party; it is simple, somewhat inexpensive, and the guests entertain themselves.
In fact, this is so easy to do that I hosted one of these parties on the day I was in labor with my sixth child. We had the party from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and he was born upstairs a few hours later!
You will need about two hours for this party. You can stretch that out with other activities like singing carols, lunch or dinner, and Christmas games but I have found that two hours is just about right for most children.
There are a wide range of ages that can enjoy this. We always invite all the other homeschoolers that we know so often have children as young as one or two and as old as....well, mature adults have a great time as well!
Party Planning and Supplies
About a month before you will host the party sit down and plan the activities you will want to have. If making the gingerbread houses will be the primary thing the whole party will probably not be more than an hour. If you will add activities like games and/or a meal than plan accordingly.
Begin buying bagged candy. This can be started early by buying clearanced candy corn and other candies left from Halloween. Here are some of the types of candy and other items that work well:
- Necco Wafers
- M & Ms
- Gummy Bears, etc
- Wheat Chex (make great thatched roofs)
- Sugar Pops (nice stone walls)
Use you imagination. Almost any candy can be used. You can also ask your guests to bring a bag of candy to the party for even more variety.
You will also want sturdy foam plates for the houses to be built on so the children can take them hom easily.
About two weeks before the party send out invitations. These can be homemade in various ways.
- Printable Christmas Invitations
- Trace a gingerbread man shape from cardstock
- Pop-up Card to print and make
- Or come up with your own idea
The day before the party you will make the gingerbread houses. These are easily made from graham crackers. You can find complete instructions for making them at How to Make Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses. There are pictures to help you will every step of the assembly. Each house will take about five to ten minutes to create, not including drying time. When you have some practice you may be able to assemble them even more quickly than that. Do not try to hurry the drying time because the results will be disasterous!
Sample Party Schedule
Sample Party Schedule
10:00 Party begins-give everyone time to get there, maybe have a short Christmas video like "Charlie Brown Christmas" playing so that the children will be entertained while the other children are arriving.
10:15: Explain how to use the royal frosting as glue to glue the candies onto the house. Maybe show some pictures of gingerbread houses for inspiration. Allow the children to work on their houses. Try not to interfere with the creative process. I had one mom that kept telling her child to apply the candy in a different pattern and eventually squelched the whole process.
Be available to spoon out more "glue" when needed or help to figure out how to add a balcony.
11:00- it is fun to have a contest for "most beautiful", "most candy applies" etc. Generally if you are going to do this have an award for each house so that each child has his own creativity affirmed.
At this point the party can be over or you can have a time of coloring printouts, eating lunch, or playing a Christmas game. Yes, it really is that simple.
Decorating for the Party
Decorations can be as extravagant as you wish. Some ideas are:
- Fill large paper bags with straw or grass. Tie the end shut and tape down. Try to shape it is somewhat a round shape. Spray paint to look like M & Ms. USe these to line the walk to your door or pile them in groups in the house.
- Using brown postal paper make a "gingerbread" door to fit over your door. Color candy on it. This is a great project for the kids.
- Fill mason jars with red hots and skittles and place votives on the top of the candy for table décor.
- Cut out large gingerbread figures, candies, and other shapes from brown paper rolls and decorate them. Tape them to the walls.
- Construction paper garlands are always fun
Food for the Gingerbread House Party
This is when it gets tricky. The kids will have been snacking on the materials that they built their houses with so they may not be hungry, nor do they need a lot of sweet things! If you will be serving party foods here are some suggetions:
- Cheese cube Snowmen. This works best with monterey jack cheese. Just pile three cubes on a toothpick and add food color dots for coal eyes, nose and mouth. This is best for older kids because of the toothpicks.
- Sandwiches-use shaped cookie cutters to cut the bread into fanciful Christmas shapes
- Cream Cheese Penguins
- Hot chocolate or hot apple cider or even just juice
It is always good to have a plan B in case something happens. Here are some printable coloring pages and other items that may be good to have on hand:
- Gingerbread Coloring Pages
- Jan Brett Place Mats to Color
- Gingerbread Baby Coloring Page
- Printable Games like Bingo
Another activity that is fun to do is to create a Christmas ornament for them to take home as a permanent memory of the great party you threw. Easy ornament ideas for kids can be found:
Just remember to keep it light and fun. The kids will have a great time and so will you.