How to host a Gingerbread House Party that's nothing like Martha Stewart's

Last weekend I hosted a Gingerbread House party.

Picture it:  20+ kids. 20+ gingerbread houses arriving in parts and pieces. An unsupervised room full of every kind of candy you can imagine. Bags and jars of icing everywhere you look. A 3-year-old dumping an entire jar of white glittery sugar on his house. (Where was that kid’s mother?! Oh yeah, that was MY kid.)

My 3-year-old, hard at work on his house that just oozes the holiday spirit. 

My 3-year-old, hard at work on his house that just oozes the holiday spirit. 

This was by far the BEST worst idea I’ve had yet. It was crazy, the kids will be on a sugar high for the rest of the week, our Elf on the Shelf was traumatized, but it was so fun! Not only that, but it was probably the easiest party I’ve ever thrown in my life. I was literally walking around my house a good 15 minutes before the party started to see if there was anything else I needed to do. THAT NEVER HAPPENS.

Want to know my secrets on how to throw an easy, stress-free gingerbread house party? Get off Pinterest and follow these rules:

Don’t make the Gingerbread house molds yourself. For a hot minute this was going to be my plan before I did the math on how painful that would be.

Do have every child bring their own gingerbread house kit with them to the party.

Don’t shop for all the candy yourself.

Do make it a candy potluck. I had every parent bring one bag of candy per kid.

Just some of the candy at our party:  M&Ms, mini M&Ms, peppermints, gum drops, Skittles, Starbursts, Hershey Kisses, mini marshmallows, Twizzlers, Lifesavers, bubble gum, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ike’s, pretzels, red hots and jelly beans

Just some of the candy at our party:  M&Ms, mini M&Ms, peppermints, gum drops, Skittles, Starbursts, Hershey Kisses, mini marshmallows, Twizzlers, Lifesavers, bubble gum, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ike’s, pretzels, red hots and jelly beans

Don’t leave the candy selection up to chance. Assortment is key!

Do create a digital sign-up listing a wide variety of candy that doubles as a way to keep track of RSVPs.  

Don’t just invite the kids. (Good GOD, no.)

Do invite the entire family. The more adults on deck to help construct and assist with decorating, the smoother things will go. It also provides the parents a chance to tag team between their kids’ gingerbread houses and a beer.

Do set up lots of tables (including shorter ones to accommodate the little ones) for ample work spaces.

Don’t set up chairs. They take up a lot of space and you can fit more kids around a table without them.

Don’t try to construct your own children’s gingerbread houses once the party starts because you’ll be busy welcoming guests.

Do construct your kids’ houses ahead of time, buy the pre-assembled one from Costco, or cheat like I did with these plastic reusable houses.

Don’t offer drinks in cups. Can you image the number of spills and flooded houses?

Do provide plenty of juice boxes with straws.

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Don’t serve food that requires you to be prepping in the kitchen or paying attention to oven timers during the party.

Do serve chili (that’s been simmering since early afternoon), hot dogs (that cook themselves—thank you hot dog roller!) and order some pizza for the kids.

Can you find our Elf who was moved mid-party via oven mitts to a safe zone away from the chaos?

Can you find our Elf who was moved mid-party via oven mitts to a safe zone away from the chaos?

Don’t go crazy with the number of pizzas. I’m a big fan of over ordering, but trust me.

Do consider that all the kids will be stuffed with candy by the time they go for a slice.

Fun? Check! Creative? Check! Clean? No way!

Fun? Check! Creative? Check! Clean? No way!

Don’t worry about the sprinkles, icing and hundreds of pieces of candy on your floor.

Do remember it’s just sugar and it all cleans up quite easily. (Exception: NEVER host this party if you only have carpeted rooms.)

What my floor looked like after the party. Totally worth it!

What my floor looked like after the party. Totally worth it!

I just knew when I was sending out invitations for this party it was either going to be a one-time event or a tradition my family would share with our friends for years to come. Oh yes, this party is definitely a keeper.

"Mom, can we eat our houses when you are almost dead?"  (Ummmmm, still no.)

"Mom, can we eat our houses when you are almost dead?"  (Ummmmm, still no.)

Gingerbread Party Pro Tips

•  Sprees and Starbursts won “Designers’ Candy Choice” at our party.

•  This party is the perfect use for your kids’ leftover Halloween candy.

•  Sugar ice cream cones make great trees for the gingerbread houses.

•  Putting tablecloths on all the tables makes clean up so much easier.

•  There’s no need to unwrap any of the individually wrapped candy. Trust me, no kid needs help in this area.

•  Plan the party close to your trash day. You’ll have a ton of boxes to recycle.

•  Smaller tubs of icing with plastic knives work way better than the more expensive squeezable tubes of icing.

•  Beware of the houses sold at Trader Joe’s which have powered sugar you have to mix to make the icing. (What is this, the year 1800? Ain’t nobody got time for that.)

•  Invite your dear mom so she can help your kids during the party while you concentrate on hosting (or drinking wine, whatever).