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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How to Host a Gingerbread House Decorating Party

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Usually around this time every year when we were younger, our mom would host our annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party.  She would clear out the garage and fully deck it out for the party.  (Oh, side note – we are from Florida, so it was beautiful weather this time of year, so I promise she wasn’t trying to freeze us.) Our mom would invite a bunch of our friends and hers, and set out everything you could possibly need to make a beautiful gingerbread house. Then, we would go to town. I loved seeing all the unique ways everyone would incorporate the candy decorations on their house. After we were done, it also made a festive display piece to add to our home. Typically though, it wouldn’t last very long. A window, a door, some roof shingles, they all would start to go missing after a day or two. Yeah, that’s right, I ate my own artwork (along with everyone else in our house). What do you think is going to happen when you leave out a lovely and tasty treat for everyone to see?

Now is the perfect time to get in the holiday spirit, spend time with family and friends, and start planning your own tradition of hosting a gingerbread house decorating party! We’ve put together some tips and ideas below to help you out.

CREATE A LIST AND SEND OUT INVITATIONS.  Determine the number of people you want to invite, then just send out these adorable free gingerbread house invites we’ve created for you. Fill out the cards and send to friends, family, kids, adults… everyone loves to make gingerbread houses!

gingerbread house decorating party free printable invitation

MAKE IT FESTIVE.  Set the tone of the party with holiday music and adorable decorations. Our Be Merry Mini Holiday Kit has you covered. In it, you’ll receive: Santa and reindeer themed paper plates, dessert plates, napkins, Santa paper straws, reindeer cups, balloons, confetti, pinwheel decorations, candy cups, and a “Be Merry” Banner. That’s everything you need! Check out www.undercoverhostess.com for more details. (It’s always free shipping, and right now take 10% off with code HOLIDAY10.)

holiday party kit contents

BUILD THE HOUSES AHEAD OF TIME.  If you want to make your own gingerbread house and patterns, the Food Network has wonderful gingerbread and Royal Icing recipes. They also provide instructions on how to cut the patterns.  Want an easier method? Check out the many options available for pre-packaged kits, like this one from Wilton. Even IKEA has a gingerbread house kit, and of course it’s super affordable. Celebrations provides a tutorial on how to use graham crackers and hot glue – another easy alternative to traditional gingerbread and frosting. Whichever method you choose, assembling the gingerbread houses the night before will not only save time, but help ensure they are sturdy enough for the decorations the next day.
SUPPLY THE SWEETS. Set out all kinds of candy to use for decoration. Candy canes, marshmallows, licorice, and gumdrops are always main staples. Grin and Bake It has an extensive gingerbread house candy list as well ideas on where to use different pieces. Place the house trimmings in our holiday candy cups, and scatter them around the table so they are easily within reach. To make the party more budget friendly, ask guests to bring some of their own candy decorations.

candy cups gingerbread house toppings

SERVE UP DRINKS AND SNACKS. To keep guests from eating all the sweet decorations, provide snacks for them to munch on while they are working. Balance out all the sweets with a few savory snacks like cream cheese and jelly tree shaped sandwiches or cut up veggies. Use these adorable reindeer cups to serve up hot cocoa with fun toppings like whipped cream and candy canes. christmas-reindeer-cupsOur Be Merry Mini Holiday Kit gives you the option of adding on coordinating disposable wooden utensils.  Use the spoons in this Kit to create fun candy coated Hot Chocolate Spoons to stir into cocoa or coffee. Hello Homebody has an excellent tutorial on how to make this delicious treat!  

christmas wooden utensil kitHot Chocolate SpoonsWe love the idea of wrapping the candy coated spoons in cellophane and sending them home as a favor. Don’t these look tasty?? 

And of course, don’t forget to have fun! Happy hosting!

Shop our Be Merry Mini Holiday Kit hereDownload the .pdf for the 5×7 Gingerbread House Party Invite here.

Font Love: Free Festive Fonts

I’m ahead of the game this year and already have my holiday cards done. Have you started thinking about yours yet? To help you get a jump start, I’ve put together my favorite holiday fonts perfect for cards, letters, invitations – anything festive! Enjoy!

festive holiday fonts//  harrington  //  foglighten no 7  //  grand hotel  //  honey script  //  great vibes  //  santa’s sleigh  //  pablo skinny  //  viper nora  //  sail  //

 

 

Holiday Is Here!

I feel like there is still a lot of time before Christmas is here.  I mean, there is still the wonderful deliciousness that is Thanksgiving.  But as of today – the count is 44 days! That’s really not that much time! Life gets in the way and it always manages to sneak up on me.  I’ve already started my shopping so I don’t get caught (again) trying to scramble and do it all the week before.  It’s really put me in the festive spirit. I love all the holiday decoration inspiration I’ve seen on Pinterest lately.  I’m not one to skip over Thanksgiving and go right to Christmas, but it really makes me want to host a holiday party.  Like, now. Well it could be that, or the fact that we have been creating new Mini Holiday Kits for the shop! Yeah, I’m thinking that probably has a lot to do with it.

We’ve put together two Mini Holiday Kits just in time for the holiday season.  In stock now are Be Merry Mini Holiday Kits as well as New Year’s Eve Mini Holiday Kits.  I absolutely love both of them! Our Mini Holiday Kits are a little different from our typical Hostess Kits. The basic Kit is designed for a party of 8 (with room to add more product, of course) and unlike our Hostess Kits, there are no rental items. You keep everything!

Undercover Hostess
Be Merry Mini Holiday Kit
Undercover Hostess
New Year’s Eve Mini Holiday Kit

As a special gift, we are also offering 10% off with code HOLIDAY10.  Don’t forget – we would never make you pay for shipping, it’s always free!

Our Mini Holiday Kits are available in our store now.  After you’ve hosted your party, send us your pictures! We would love to feature your party and show how you made your Holiday Kit your own.  Submissions can be sent to hello@undercoverhostess.com.