Is It Genetic?
Hygge . . . for the Gardener

A Christmas Tradition. Since 1992.

Back in 1992, a friend invited me to a Pampered Chef party.  And, well, you know how it is . . . you feel obligated to go.  And obligated to buy something.

I bought this . . . 

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a gingerbread mold.

It'll be fun . . . I thought.

The kids and I can make gingerbread houses . . .  I imagined.

Maybe it'll even become an annual tradition . . . I mused.

And, y'know?  I was RIGHT!


It was fun -- and it TOTALLY became an annual tradition!

In the early years, I always baked two houses worth of gingerbread, and my mom and I teamed up with my kids to decorate houses on a weekend before Christmas.  It was lots of fun - and something we all enjoyed doing together.  (Although Brian usually lost interest once the houses were assembled; he hardly ever stuck around for the finished product.)


While Brian's interest waned, Erin became the Queen of Gingerbread.  She started hosting an annual gingerbread decorating party for her friends.  Here they are in 5th grade (Erin, the hostess-with-the mostest, is in the very back of this photo; I can't remember which finished house was hers, though.) . . . 


(You'll notice I gave up on the mold when it came to Erin's parties.  We just went with graham-crackers-on-milk-cartons.)  (Works GREAT, by the way.)

Erin's annual parties continued even in high school.  She invited fewer friends -- and baked the gingerbread (in the mold) on her own.  (Just as an aside . . . one of Erin's high school friends used to decorate these incredible houses every year.  Intricate and gorgeous.  Really amazing.  She ended up becoming a pastry chef and decorator extraordinaire as an adult!  We knew her when. . . )

Once Erin finished college and moved to Pittsburgh, we started doing gingerbread houses on Thanksgiving evening after the meal.  We continued the tradition this year.  It was really hard without my mom . . . but we were thrilled to add my sister to the mix!  (She has never taken part in this particular activity with me before, although she is a veteran gingerbread house decorator.)


This year, my sister and I got our inspiration from Pinterest.  Like . . . maybe too much inspiration.  We got really excited about . . . thatched roofs and stone fireplaces.

My sister's kind of worked . . . 


But mine?  Not so much. . . The "stones" are falling off in little piles around the base of my house!


(There will be no "stones" left by Christmas. . . )

But, you know.  That's how it goes!  Some years, our gingerbread houses turn out GREAT.  And some years . . . well, they just don't.  

But it doesn't matter at all.  

Because it's really not about the finished product!  Like most beloved family holiday traditions, it's ALL about the being together, having fun --  and creating memories.

I'm really blessed . . . to have some great memories coming out of that silly Pampered Chef party.  These houses really just . . . warm my heart.  Every single year.


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I love how far-reaching your tradition has become! Inspiring a pastry chef, continuing on in Pittsburgh, and thatched roofs this year. I also have a mold and we used to do houses when the boys were little, but their interest in eating candy was far greater than their interest in decorating. If only I had a girl like Erin I might still be mixing up royal icing today!


Who knew that Pampered Chef could be so inspiring!! But, the graham cracker/milk carton houses are indeed a winner!! We did them a number of years! Excellent tradition!


My son and I(single mom at the time) used to do the graham crackers on foil covered boxes (larger than the milk cartons). A couple of years ago he and his wife were going to visit my husband and I for Christmas and ahead of the visit I was getting materials ready to do a 'gingerbread' house as an activity. My husband said, "Maybe he doesn't want to do that any more" So we picked them up at the airport and I tried to work into the conversation on the way home about possibly doing a house and my daughter-in-law says, "Oh yes! Mike was telling me how much fun you guys used to have making them." So there, DH.
And we did have fun.
I have rolled out and baked the gingerbread for houses (and even a sleigh one year) in the past, but graham crackers works for me now.
Love that it was/is still such a part of your family activities too.


Well, now I need to get invited,to a Pampered Chef party. Your gingerbread houses are so inspirational, even the ones with the falling stones!


Seeing your gingerbread house posts has become my Christmas tradition! How I love the love, joy and "tradition" they invoke!

Sue N

They always look amazing. Do you eat the houses or are they just for decoration?


I love this tradition! And I really love that Erin had those parties with her friends!! So cool about her friend the pastry chef/decorator.

Your stones... so sad but sweet all at the same time!! Y'all must have fun reminiscing about past triumphs and failures each year while decorating.


I love seeing gingerbread houses, and have always enjoyed seeing your posts about your family putting them together. I'm so glad you continued making them, and hope all of you will for many years to come.


Looks like Brian's wife is now part of the fun, too. Life subtracts and adds. And goes on!


Looks like a wonderfully fun tradition! I've never seen a gingerbread mold like that.


I love seeing your gingerbread houses every year. I can only imagine how hard it was this year without your mom but I'm glad you soldiered on. And hey, at least none of them fell apart!


This is such a wonderful tradition and I also look forward to seeing the event. Maybe Yvonne was watching from above and wondering...what are those girls thinking with all that Pinterest baloney! :-) xo


I love seeing your houses every year - but didn't remember you'd been doing them for nearly 25 years - wow! (and Pampered Chef... who could've guessed?!)


What fun and I relish those memories you've shared. Delightful that you made houses this Thanksgiving. Your post reminded me of a time, 25 years ago, when I had 4 little girls here at my house and we baked cookies, made paper tree decorations but no gingerbread houses. The girls were friends of my grand-niece and the party was designed to give their moms some free time to catch up on holiday shopping...or just plain rest, too, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing and for my trip down memory lane.

Lydia S

Wow, a mold that actually worked! Decorating gingerbread houses-maybe that's something I need to incorporate with friends.

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