My Annual Gingerbread Party (+ A Hot Cocoa Bar!)

Pic1Continuing with tradition, I hosted my annual Gingerbread Decorating Party. I love doing it every year for my daughter, because she always has so much fun with her friends. But wow, it is always exhausting! I tried a few different things this year, some were a hit, others not so great.  I think it’s important to recognize this because that’s how you learn and know where to improve the next time around.

As with any of my parties, I always try to have a “homemade” element, something where I go the extra mile. Keeping it realistic, I also try to find shortcuts. Typically, I make my gingerbread houses from scratch using this really nifty mold from The Chef’s Toolbox (which you find on Amazon). The houses always turn out fantastic. They are easy to assemble, stick together well, and are large, which the kids love. This year, being 32 weeks pregnant, that wasn’t happening. I decided to change it up this year and purchase a gingerbread kit for each kid I found on sale at World Market. That didn’t go so well. The houses were a lot of work to assemble, and half the ones that made it, crumbled. Now this could definitely just be a result of the brand I bought because I know there are really decent kits out there.  I think it scarred me though, so I’m sticking with making it from scratch from here on out. It may be extra work for me before the party, but it will be much easier to decorate for my guests!

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This year, I decided to set up a hot chocolate bar. I knew it would be fun, simple, and a favorite for the kids. I found several different kinds of hot cocoa mix in small packets at World Market – ranging from Peppermint Cocoa to Dulce de Leche (so good!). I displayed these in little ramekins so guests could pick which flavor they wanted. What’s hot chocolate without toppings? There was peppermint cotton candy, regular and peppermint marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream, and chocolate chips. The kids had a blast adding the toppings and making their own hot chocolate. To make serving easy, the hot chocolate bar was set up close to my kettle on the stove.

Overall

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I thought about purchasing fancy glassware from the store, but figured I would try mixing Christmas mugs I already owned for a unique look. I like how it turned out! I added fake snow ($3 from Michael s) on the table to achieve a cute little winter wonderland hot cocoa bar!

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For the food, I cooked a majority of the dishes myself (with recipe help from Pinterest) since I opted out of making the gingerbread houses. The kids loved the Grinch Santas, and I loved them because it was a fun and healthy snack. Baking cups from the Be Merry kit, were used to hold the cupcakes I made. I topped the cupcakes off with a gingerbread cookie and a dancing Santa on the “north pole” (the straws from the Be Merry kit I cut in half).

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Watching my daughter laugh and play with her friends the entire time is enough to make me want to do this every year, despite how pregnant I am or how exhausting it may be. Plus, it is an added bonus that I can spend it with my girlfriends, whom I really cherish. I love everything about the holidays – it really is a magical time for me – and I am so lucky I could share in it with my amazing friends tonight!

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