The program ran smoothly and we had 36 people show up to day 1 (day 2 is today); the only major mess up was when I was going to take a photo of one of the kids with their finished house for our Facebook page and my iPhone slid out of my fresh-wipe-slippery hand and went flying at the gingerbread house--through it, in fact! I DEMOLISHED his house!! There were audible gasps from all of the kids and myself (thank God I didn't shout, "SHIT!!" which is my go-to word of choice at home!), but the boy's Mom was awesome, slathering on tons of icing and helping me put the house back together in no time; his Grandma thought it was hysterical, trying to comfort me by saying, "Don't worry, he has homeowners insurance!" Anytime I think of gingerbread houses here on out, I'm pretty sure I'll hear this in my head.
Thought I would share what we did, in the event anyone else does this program and doesn't know where to start. A few things we did that seemed to help/work:
- Hung up pictures of samples of simple gingerbread houses that we found using Google images
- Told the families that there is no right way to make a gingerbread house--it's about being creative and having fun!
- Told them our one rule: you can eat in this room, you can eat when you leave the library, but you can't eat this on your way out of the library!
- Gave each person making a house 6 rectangle graham crackers, for two reasons: 1. cost (our total was around $125 for supplies--fortunately I was able to get 3 separate stores: Kmart, Walmart, and the local grocery to each pitch in a gift card, which cut our costs in half) and 2. with that much to work with it took most kids between 20-30 minutes to get their houses built
- Graham Crackers: we bought the store's imitation brand as opposed to the more expensive name brands, they all work the same. There are about 18 rectangle pieces/box and we did 6 rectangles/kid, so I did the math and bought enough for our program that way--never hurts to get extra as some break and leftovers can be used for a program snack
- Duncan Hines Frosting (white): we split each container into two Styrofoam cups and gave the kids plastic knives to spread onto the graham crackers. We put a cup on the table for every 3-4 kids, so one can of frosting stretches between 6-8 kids perfectly. At this time of year the Duncan Hines was on sale for holiday baking, so we got a great price
- 6-8 large bottles of sprinkles and jimmies (red, white, green colors, Christmas shapes): Kmart had an awesome 4 pack
- Plain M&Ms: Kmart had the Christmas color packs on sale
- Mini candy canes: we used leftovers from Santa's visit, so we didn't have to buy any
- Christmas shaped gummies
- Christmas shaped marshmallows
- Spice Gum Drops
- Licorice: bought the licorice mini-bites which worked well as roof tiles and pathways to the houses
- Christmas shaped Sweet Tarts: found these in boxes akin to what you'd find at the movie theater at Kmart, the boxes were on sale $1/box.
- Nerds: instead of using Red Hots, which the kids don't seem to enjoy as much, we used
- Cupcake paper cups: we spread these out on the tables to put our goodies in, filled to the brim with candy, filled halfway with sprinkles
- Plastic knives
- Heavy duty paper plates or Styrofoam
- Leftover Halloween candy: candy is candy to kids. We put out our leftover Halloween candy: smarties, tootsie rolls, milk duds, and dum-dum suckers--the kids got really creative with this stuff, especially the suckers!