This is a Christmas Holiday tradition our family started when my oldest child (now 18) was 2 years old. That year it was just the 3 of us… We were new parents searching for ways to bring our own touch to share Christmas and the Holiday Season with our little boy.
Since then we have made “some” variation of a homemade Gingerbread house – every – single – year. It has become OUR family tradition… Fun! Whimsical. And very VERY important.
This is year 16… and counting… Our twins are now 14 and have been building since they were 14 months old. All 3 of my children affectionately call our homemade masterpieces “Candy Houses”. Every year we invite 1 or more “best friends”, uncles, neighbors or grandparents to build with us. We EACH create our own magical, whimsical and very yummy masterpiece of graham crackers, icing, gum drops, M&Ms, red hot Cinnamon candies, mini candy canes, pretzels…. and other delicious “goodies”. We have grown from simply leaning 2 gragham crackers together to carefully planning and constructing multi-level homes and buildings. One year my husband constructed the most perfect little church- our kids are still impressed with their dad’s artistic creativity that year! This activity is ALL about the PROCESS of creating ART, enjoying each other and making family memories!
We like to think that our Candy Houses are reminiscent of the great architect Antoni Gaudi -from Barcelon, Spain. Gaudi’s most famous works include La Sagrada Familia (melting surreal cathedral) http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/docs_instit/arquitectura.php and Casa Batllo (looks like a real life sugar-topped house) http://artsmarts4kids.blogspot.com/2008/07/spanish-architecture-art-nouveau.html.
So…. Here’s the materials you need to construct your own Candy House:
- paper plate, shoe box top, or other platform
- powdered sugar
- thick white icing (add fun food coloring IF you like)
- name-brand graham crackers (honey, plain or cinnamon) – don’t bother with the less expensive generic brands that crumble easily
- mini candy canes
- small colored candies: M&Ms, mini M&Ms, Skittles, gumdrops, Redhot Cinnamons…
- clear/white sugar crystals (cookie sprinkles)
Here’s WHAT to do: let even the littlest child help with ALL steps
- Make a base: Help little hands wrap foil over a thick paper plate or shoe box lid (shiny side out)
- Cover the base with “snow”: Use butter knives (or thick plastic knives) to spread THICK white frosting over the foil
- Start building: Use whole graham crackers (rectangles) or halves (squares) to build your unique structure! Use thick icing as mortar between walls and roof pieces.
- Decorate: Spread icing on walls and roof as “glue” for candy pieces.
- Get really creative!!! Make a pattern on your roof, create windows and doors, add a gumdrop snowman, stack a chimney, build a fence, or create lattice-work….
- Finishing Glaze: mix up a glaze (powdered sugar mixed with a little water) then using a spoon drizzle it over your finished Candy House to help “glue” it together (glaze dries very hard).
- Sparkle: Sprinkle with clear/white sugar crystals (cookie topping) to add sparkle!!!
Artistic & Fine Motor Skills:
- wrapping paper plate with foil- works on spatial skills; folding paper
- spreading frosting on base- practice knife spreading skills; eye-hand coordination; bi-manual skills (holding plate steady with “helping hand”)
- decorating with candies- practice fine motor dexterity, pinch, grasp and eye-hand coordination as candies are strategically selected & placed
- creativity- remember, this activity is ALL about the PROCESS of creating ART, enjoying each other and making family memories!
Have fun and enjoy your family & friends making your own Candy Houses!
P.S. Please share family traditions your family enjoys….