the home-wrecker

This week we have two days of making Gingerbread Houses with the families, something I've been both eagerly anticipating/dreading it in that way others who have done this program can appreciate--excited for the kids, while also dreading the clean up  (the icing ground into the carpet, candy strewn everywhere), and also living in fear that we're going to run out of something important like icing or graham crackers. I DID forget the heavy duty plates and plastic knives, but fortunately there is a dollar store nearby, and I realized my error a half an hour before the program started.

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

Things we purchased for 2013 Gingerbread House Making Program:
  • 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!


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