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How to Throw a Gingerbread House Party

Wondering how to throw a gingerbread house party? My friend and I just threw a great party and today I’m sharing all the details. 

 

A few years ago, we did a family gingerbread decorating party with a few friends in Texas. It was fun and chaotic, and since then I’ve always wanted to do it on a bigger scale with a bunch of couples. Doing it with kids was too crazy, with too many hands on one gingerbread house.

There’s a great group of friends here in Missouri that go to our church, and we’ve been able to become friends with many of them. So when one of the girls was throwing a Christmas white elephant/ugly sweater party, I asked if we could combine and add a gingerbread house decorating competition to the party. So we did!

It was so fun, and all the couples got VERY into it, so the gingerbread house results were amazing. I shared about it on Instagram and had lots of questions, so I’m anwering them today with this post, if you’d like to host your own gingerbread decorating party!

 

How to do a gingerbread house party with kids

I’ve done a gingerbread house party with my family since I was a little kid. My mom made graham cracker houses, and it got a few bags of candy, and it was so fun and super simple. I still do this with my kids every year (we’re hosting ours next week), but this party with the adults was definitely more elaborate and competitive!

If you’re doing it with kids, I’d recommend just keeping it super simple and not competitive. There will for sure be anger or tears if you make people vote. Also, the graham cracker houses are so much cheaper, so definitely do that.

I have a post all about it RIGHT HERE, if you want easy instructions for the houses and the royal icing recipe that is like glue (or you can just use hot glue if no one is going to be eating the houses after they’re done).

 

How to Throw a Gingerbread House Party with Adults

First of all, I got this idea from Rach Parcell, and she talked about it in a TikTok video last year, so lots of details are there.

As I mentioned above, this group already had a White Elephant/Ugly Sweater party, so I just joined in on that, and we put on the invitation that we were doing an epic gingerbread house decorating competition.

A couple weeks before the party, we sent out details. We told them we would provide the houses and the basic candy, and told them each couple would have 90 minutes to complete their house, and could bring a gallon size bag of whatever they wanted to give their house an edge.

 

The format of the night

It was a potluck style for eating, and we asked everyone to bring an appetizer or treat to share. We spent the first hour or so mingling and eating, and then dove right into decorating gingerbread houses.

Couples had about 5 minutes to check out the table of candy and grab what they needed (they could always come back) and then we started the timer for 90 minutes. We had music playing and people chatted and bantered, but there was also lots of concentration!

After the 90 minutes, everyone cleaned up their station so it was presentable for display, then we numbered each house, and couples had time to check out all the houses and vote for their three favorites (in no particular order). We did voting as individuals, not as couples, so there was double the amount of votes as there was houses.

We counted up the votes, and then everyone gathered around on the couches and we announced the winners and handed out prizes (Amazon gift card, movie tickets, and a restaurant gift card).

After that, we did the white elephant gift exchange, which had a true White Elephant gag gift AND a nice gift, so everyone went home with one of each.

At the end of the night, everyone helped clean up and we headed home!

 

How we set up the room for decorating

We set up a bunch of tables in the basement, one huge table for the candy, and two couples at a table (we placed them by outlets so it was easy to plug in the glue guns).

 

What couples got at their station for decorating:

  • Costco gingerbread house, pre-built
  • Hot glue gun
  • Extra glue sticks
  • A large cardboard piece as their base (we found these at Michaels)
  • Bowl to gather supplies from the candy table

 

gingerbread house party
gingerbread house party

 

I opened up a question box on Instagram last week and here were your most asked questions about this party

  • Was this expensive?
    • You could do this kind of party in a lot of different ways to make it more or less expensive. Ours was fairly pricey because we bought all of the houses pre-made from Costco. If you wanted to do it on a budget, make the houses out of graham cracker, have people bring their own houses, or buy the houses from Target or Walmart this year after Christmas when they’re on clearance and save them for next year. No one is eating these houses, so a stale house is no problem.
    • I bought a ton of candy and crackers and cereal and other things to put on the houses because I wanted to give people lots of options. That was definitely expensive, but since everything comes in big bags, we left with about half of the candy, so I bagged it up and put it in a big plastic tub with a lid and will save it for next year.
    • If you wanted to do the candy on a budget, you certainly could do less candy, and you could find a lot of stuff at the Dollar Store, maybe. I bought mine at Walmart so it was all very low priced, but I bought a ton. I actually also ended up returning a bunch of stuff that we didn’t open or need (like duplicate bags of pretzels and candies), so I got about $50 back!
  • What did you do with the kids
    • Everyone left their kids at home! Some couples have younger kids so they got a babysitter, but most have kids old enough to stay home.
  • Clean up/set up
    • It was hosted at Mary’s house, and I went over there about 2 hours before the party and we spent about an hour and a half setting up all the tables and everyone’s stations, and putting all the candy and decorations in jars. We rounded up all our glassware that we owned, plus we borrowed a few from a friend who attended the party. It took way longer than we thought to empty all the bags of candy, arrange, unbox the houses, unpack the glue guns, etc, so give yourself plenty of time.
    • Clean up was very easy, because we had 26 people there to help! As soon as the White Elephant gift exchange was done, I went to the candy table and started packing everything up (I’d brought sandwich and gallon ziploc bags). Everyone followed suit and we had the whole place packed up and tables broken down and trash taken out in about 20 minutes!
  • What did each couple start with? (ex. base, etc)
    • Pre-built Costco house
    • Extra large base
    • Glue gun
    • Extra glue sticks
    • Bowl for gathering supplies
  • How much time did each team have?
    • We all had the same amount of time. We decided on 75 minutes at first, but ended up adjusting it, and it was about 90 minutes in the end. But we had a countdown the last 10 seconds and everyone had to take their hands off their houses at the end of the timer!
  • Did you plan designs ahead? Any tips for getting such quality results?
    • I think pretty much everyone had designs planned ahead of time. I sent Rach Parcell’s tiktok video (linked at the beginning of this post) to everyone in a text thread so they kind of knew what to expect and the caliber of houses we were aiming for, and told everyone to bring their A-game. And they did!! Expectations are everything!
  • What did you do to prep ahead of time?
    • The only thing we did far in advance was buy the Costco gingerbread houses, since they come out around Halloween and sell out quickly. So those have been stored at Mary’s house for a few months.
    • A few couples did prep some stuff before the party (which was totally allowed)! The Hogwarts castle couple prepped their Rice Krispies tower, and their Great Hall food. The couple who did the Christmas Tree Farm house had all their melted candy trees done in advance. Besides that, I don’t think anyone did any prep work before the 90 minutes began.
  • Most used candies/any candies you wouldn’t buy again?
    • Honestly, there wasn’t one thing that I noticed that didn’t really get used. The pretzels (I had 4 different varieties…large rods, little sticks, the grid pattern ones, and the original twisty ones) were VERY popular, and most people used the sugar cones for either a castle or for Christmas trees. I was surprised at how popular the marshmallows and coconut flakes were, and shocked at how fast the extra tubs of frosting were used. I bought 5 extra tubs of buttercream frosting and brought my gel food coloring, and those were gone in a flash.
  • How did you pick winners?
    • We had everyone vote for their favorite three and then tallied the results! The top three won by 1 vote each…it was CLOSE!!
  • How many couples came? Too many? Perfect amount?
    • We invited 15 or 16 couples, I think, and 14 ended up coming, but one left early and didn’t make a house, and one came late so they made a house, but it was in about 20 minutes and they just threw some candy on it. It was actually a really good amount — enough to make it fun and feel like a legit competition, and not so crowded that it felt chaotic.

 

Let me know if you have any other questions — happy to answer!!

 

 

gingerbread house party

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