Graham Cracker Houses
Decorating a gingerbread house is a pretty classic Christmas activity, but it requires planning and preparation. I have never had it quite together enough to make Gingerbread and one of my kids has a severe allergy to Dairy so the kits you can buy don't work for us. I am also a little too spontaneous in my desire to bake and create sweet things. When my kids were toddlers, we started a new tradition: Graham Cracker houses.
Graham Cracker Houses are easier for me because they usually require things I have on hand. Graham Crackers, Frosting and some random small candy can usually be found in our house. This year I also learned that even that list of ingredients is negotiable.
The kids and I had been pondering the idea of making Gingerbread houses all week and one afternoon we decided to do it. I had assumed, mistakenly, that we had frosting. When we headed to the kitchen and discovered we didn't, I did what any normal mom with anxious four year olds would do, I improvised.
First, I tried to make frosting. That turned out watery and horrible.
Then we moved on to marshmallows. We melted some in the microwave (which is a fun activity all on it's own) and then I got to work trying to use the gooey sticky result as glue to hold the crackers together before it cooled and hardened. I seriously broke a sweat, but this not only worked but once it cooled it really held the crackers together well.
Unfortunately, at this point we were ready to decorate but we were out of marshmallows.
A quick glance through the cabinets came up with my next brainstorm : peanut butter. That's sticky, right?
It worked like a charm. Peanut butter was spread all over the crackers and my kids quickly got to work attaching candy to their houses.
Our last flourish was to add sprinkles. To the houses, the table, the floor. Thank goodness for our little Robo Vacumn.
And then, believe it or not, our kids at these things. I'm honestly not sure how graham crackers, marshmallow, peanut butter, and dairy free candy covered in sprinkles tastes....but they had no complaints.
So how do you make one of these creations? Directions are below. Otherwise, just wing it.
Gather all of the ingredients. Get creative if you must.
I give each child a work station with their art mat, a plate, and a bowl for candy.
Start by building the sides of the house. I did this while the kids were napping when they were toddlers so they wouldn't have to wait. With frosting, wait about 15 minutes before you start decorating. If you're using marshmallow, be prepared to get sticky, but it dries super fast.
Invite your child to come decorate a Christmas house. We let our kids go wherever they wanted with that. When they were two this was a jumble of icing and marshmellows. This year they seemed a little more aware of house parts like a window and door, but that doesn't really matter. Enjoy the process. Put on some Christmas carols and drink some cocoa.
Eat the mess. The plates and art mats go in the sink. The table can get wiped down and then I put our trusty robo vacuum to work right away spot cleaning under the table. (We have this one, in case you're curious)
Cookie Icing (or Peanut Butter)
Other Cookie Decorations
Plate (per child)
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