Years ago, before the birth of wild thing #3, I found a haunted gingerbread house. It was insanely easy, and we had a blast with it. Two years ago, I thought it would be fun to make another one.
This is what it looked like (by the way, if you don’t follow me on instagram, you should! 😉 )..
Needless to say, we skipped making one last year.
This year, wild thing #4 was given a gingerbread town kit for her birthday. The kids were thrilled! Truly. They were really excited to make these houses. Honestly, I was holding back my negative thoughts. “Oh great! Bring on the tears!” “Now I have 5 houses to put together. Fun!” Sorry, well-meaning gift giver!
Gingerbread houses + toddlers
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I’ve learned a few things about making gingerbread houses with kids in the last few years. And, believe it or not, we had a ton of fun this year with that gingerbread town kit. I’m actually really glad she was given it. (by the way, one of the reasons this was chosen as her gift was so that there wasn’t more stuff collecting in our house. Hello!! I can’t thank you enough for thinking of that!!)
If you’re really hoping to have a gingerbread house that looks like a gingerbread house, choose a kit with a pre-assembled house.
The year wild thing #2 and I had success, I unknowingly, and luckily, bought a haunted house that was built in the box with candies, and icing. It could not have been an easier or more fun little project for the two of us to do. The house came out of the box, and we stuck candies all over it, and covered it was icing and all was well with the world. Side note: the kids were so excited to use their DIY sharpie mugs to hold the candies!
If you don’t purchase a pre-assembled house, and you’re not an engineer, don’t expect it to look like a house.
Ok, I’m sure there are some of you out there in internet land, that can make a mean gingerbread house from scratch. You rock! This year, I actually told the kids, they had to wait until I put the small-ish houses together, and let them dry a little. It was still a fail.
Let your children know in advance that you will be lucky if you end up with houses…
..But that they will be able to eat loads of candy, gingerbread cookies, and icing. Letting the kids know in advance that we weren’t going for perfection, but for fun instead, made a difference right from the start.
If you older kids, spend more time constructing their houses.
The kids played hooky from school last week because they weren’t feeling well, and were exhausted from a crazy weekend. There were 2 toddlers, and a 6 year old working on houses. The toddlers were excited to see their houses, but not a bit bothered when they eventually fell over. They lost interest with decorating, and moved on to eating long before the 6 year old. The 6 year old, was much more concerned with making his house look like a house.
Let go of perfection.
Over the years, I have learned it is necessary for me to let go of perfection, and embrace the beauty in the madness when it comes to crafting with kids. I’ve always been perfectly happy to let my kids choose their own colors when painting, or coloring regardless of how “wrong” they may seem to me. I am happy to let them color outside of the lines, or put their googly eyes in the wrong spot. BUT if the project requires my help, I want my part to be perfect. Unfortunately, worrying too much about perfection takes up time, and leaves you with a very impatient child waiting for you to finish, or worse- impatient children waiting for their turns.
The icing bag for the kit had a hole in it near the tip, making my icing skills even worse than they usually are. The old me would have tried to fix the problem, and spent an obscene amount of time trying to make those windows and scallops perfect. I’ve learned to let go.
At then end of the day, this actually ended up being the perfect project for our family once I took my own advice. It wasn’t a terribly long project. It involved food. Clean up was easy. No one cried.