While it's technically "that time of year" again, I think that gingerbread houses are fun for any holiday. I started having gingerbread house parties last Christmas as my way of bringing a family tradition (thanks Aunt Denise!) to my new digs in Los Angeles. It was so much fun I did gingerbread houses again for my Halloween party (they were haunted houses, geddit?), and now I'm working on my second winter gingerbread party. I've been asked how to put together houses so that others can host their own parties, and I'm happy to share the fun!
Step 1: Day One: Shopping
If you're working, going to school, or are just busy, you're going to want to start preparing for your party a few days in advance.
Go over your recipes and take stock of what's in your kitchen. If you're not a big baker, and if you've never made gingerbread before, it's likely you don't have some of the essential tools and ingredients. If you do like to get busy in the kitchen, make sure you have enough of everything. It'll save you 11th hour trips to the store (or save you from having to beg your boyfriend to go for you).
Here's what you'll need for one batch of gingerbread. Each batch will make about two 3" x 5" houses, so plan accordingly.
1 C. (2 sticks) margarine
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. unsulfured molasses
8 - 9 C. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tblsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
(NOTE: I've found that the below frosting recipes were enough for 7-8 houses.)
Royal Icing (the "cement" icing):
Meringue powder (from bakery or craft stores)
1 lb. powdered sugar
Buttercream frosting (the colored decorating frosting):
1/3 cup of butter or margarine
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
milk (until you get the desired texture)
Some of these tools are simple, some are unexpected. Some are also recommendations, but not necessary.
Kitchenaid mixer (nice if you can get it, but it's not necessary)
multiple pastry bags / tips
paper plates (large, sturdy plates for houses)
cookie cutters (if desired)
long sewing straight pins w/ plastic balls on the ends
candy, sprinkles, etc. for decorating
Once you have everything you need...