Gingerbread House Tea Party
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen some pictures from a recent gingerbread house tea party that my Mom and I cohosted for Blakely and her little girlfriends last weekend. So many questions and requests for more details came in that I thought it would be easier for me to write up a blog post for you. If you’re hosting a gingerbread house party or especially a pink-themed affair like this one, I hope it helps you as you plan. Scroll down for photos as well as tips, my royal icing recipe, sources for the items on the table, etc.
When I was a little girl, my Mom always hosted a gingerbread house tea party for me during the holidays. My birthday is at the end of November so it was often a “birthday” party where I invited my girlfriends over and we had a sugary-filled gingerbread house tea party. I still have so many memories from these parties, and I’m so thankful my Mom and I can recreate this sweet tradition with Blakely. I need to dig up photos of my parties from when I was a little girl and share them here! So we hosted her “first annual” gingerbread house tea party last year, I didn’t blog that one but I put a few pictures of it at the end for you.
Here is her “2nd annual gingerbread house tea party”…
Let’s start with the basics. Tables. You can certainly use any table you have, but I have two of these play tables from Pottery Barn Kids. We use them for her birthday parties, and I use one on an everyday basis in my office to shoot recipes for the blog! They’re great. The chairs are from Chiavari Chair Co., and the shipping prices make it a splurge, but I love them!
I suggest a runner rather than a tablecloth (if possible) since little elbows like to accidentally pull on tablecloths, and you don’t want a gingerbread house mishap. I ordered this pink table runner here (it comes in a million colors). It’s the perfect pop of pale pink, but like I said, choose the color you prefer (there is red, green, and white too).
There’s my little cutie getting ready for the party to begin! She was so excited to walk around the party table and make sure every place setting had all the little candy cups! Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Speaking of, this was a common question I received. I used various pink baking cups to hold the candies. We also had a few larger clear plastic bowls for extra candy, but mostly we used the pink baking cups. I like these because they’re small, perfect for little hands, not breakable, and make for easy clean-up. I suggest the sturdier baking cups rather than the collapsible ones that are used as cupcake liners. You want it to be able to stand up and hold the candy. I used a variety that I had on hand in my craft room, but here are my favorite striped ones (available in lots of colors). You can sometimes find these at HomeGoods, Michaels, or local cake decorating shops. I hoard them because I use them all the time!
We served tea and treats in the dining room! This included hot cider tea for the adults as well as a cooled fruit tea for the little ones. We wanted them to experience real “tea cups” but didn’t want to worry about anything too fragile to I ordered these cute white tea cups. They were perfect. I might get an extra set soon for Blakely to use when she plays “tea party” on her own.
In the center of the table in addition to the candies (more details on those below), we set lots of pink and red decorations. I found pink bottle brushes from Hobby Lobby and pulled all our nutcrackers in red and pink. Hobby Lobby also has lots of nutcrackers and that is where I have found several pink ones over the years. Just keep your eyes out for nutcrackers with touches of pink and within a couple of years, you’ll have yourself a little collection. That’s what my Mom and I have done over the years. After the party, I move them to her room to decorate as she has a little pink-themed tree in her room (seen in the background of this party).
We also used little christmas tree ornaments with an added pink bow on top. There isn’t much you can’t embellish with a spool of ribbon and a hot glue gun. The ornaments were – ready for this? – $1 each from Wal-Mart. Truly. I love the little pops of red they added down the table. Next up were simple vases of pastel pink and red roses. I love adding florals in some capacity to every tablescape.
Plates and napkins! Another big questions! I bought these at a local Brentwood shop called Hot Pink, but the brand is Design Design. It looks like Amazon has a few of the plates in stock if you hurry! We also used these coordinating napkins in the powder room and alongside drinks. Then they are also sold in a set with the large dinner plate (what we used) and the large napkin. Then here is a set with the small plate and small luncheon napkin. We used the small napkin but large would be fine too. You could mix-match.
They’re darling, and I love how it turned out! Paper plates under the gingerbread houses keep all the candy “corralled”. I received a message asking how I would ever keep that light rug clean under the table. I’m happy to report there was ONE SKITTLE under the table after the party. Now, this is in large part to the fact that the girls are 3 this year which is a huge leap from 2. But having the candies in the cups in arms reach and a large plate under the house means they’re not having to get up, lean over, and try to reach for what they need. Make it easy!
As you can see, everyone had a fabulous time! Another question I received was about the candy! How did I have time to pull it all together? This was two trips to the grocery store. One at Kroger and one at publix. You’ll find skittles, M&Ms, Starburst Minis, Mini Marshmallows, Butter Mints, Jelly Beans, Gum Drops, Gum Fruit Slices, twizzlers (cut in small slices) and Gingerbread men cookies. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. I’m sure I could have driven all around town to ten other places, but why? I had enough color variation and candies to fit the bill. Success!
You can see a close-up of the flower arrangement above. My mom added gold glitter curls (found in the floral section at the grocery store or craft store) for a whimsical embellishment! This is such an easy thing to grab, trim, and stick down in arrangements.
We made up about 5 frosting bags tied off with a rubber band and fitted with a large star tip. I didn’t even use couplers. Keep it easy. Piping bags + large tips = done. More details on royal icing below. I found it helpful to have a few of the moms help add icing to the houses as the girls were decorating. At the very beginning, my Mom used a spoon to spread frosting on the roofs and added sprinkles. This way the girls can get to decorating ASAP. So many gingerbread house parties start with BUILDING the house. For little ones with short attention spans, it’s really better to have that done. Let them get right to the fun part, decorating.
You’ll also see a few non-edible embellishments like ribbon and snowmen. The snowmen are just from the craft store. You could certainly get sugared decorations, but since gingerbread houses get rock-hard, we knew the girls wouldn’t be biting down into them in days to come so a few extra embellishments wouldn’t hurt! In fact, you can keep the gingerbread houses if kept in an air-tight bag for at least several years. We had so many friends growing up who would tell us that their moms would pull out their gingerbread houses and put on display each year.
Let’s chat more details about the houses themselves. Below is also my Mom’s royal icing recipe that she’s been using for years for these gingerbread houses.
To keep things easy, we make graham cracker gingerbread houses. Use a little box (milk carton box or little gift box from the dollar store which is what we used) as the base for the gingerbread houses. This way, you won’t have any “caving in” of the darling houses!
Use either hot glue or royal icing (see below recipe) to glue the crackers to the box. Cut out cardboard rectangles to make a “roof” shape on top. You don’t need to put graham crackers on the roof as you can cover it in royal icing (you won’t see what’s underneath). After all the graham crackers are glued to the sides of the box, outline the edges of the houses with royal icing in a large tip. Let it harden overnight. It will get rock hard.
When the icing outline has hardened, set them aside for your party. We made these several months in advance of the gingerbread house tea party (they lasted just fine). You can make them right before your party too, of course. Just make sure you’ve let the edges harden at least one night so you can pick them up and move them.
For the party! Make a large batch of the royal icing. When the little girls arrived, we covered the icing on the roof first and added sprinkles. Then the girls decorated as we (and the other moms) walked around with a few icing bags to add some to the sides for them to decorate. After they were done, we placed them in box bottoms (we bought medium gift boxes from the dollar store) and this way, the moms could transport them home without icing ending up all over their car. We don’t want that! After one night, it’ll be rock hard and able to be handled, but be gentle of course. We display them on little cake stands in our kitchen!
ROYAL ICING FOR GINGERBREAD HOUSES
2 large egg whites (or 1/3 cup egg whites)
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
Beat egg whites and water until foamy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy with soft peaks. The recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of icing. If icing is not stiff enough, just add a little more sugar. If too stiff, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Since it dries quickly, keep the icing covered with a damp cloth while working. Do not make too far ahead.
I promised I’d share a few pictures from last year’s gingerbread house tea party. Her “first annual” ;) Since most of the little girls were just two, we decided to just decorate one larger house and donate it to a local children’s home. You could certainly have two year olds make their own, we just decided to do a larger one last year.
We’re very excited to host this fun little gathering each year. I received a few questions via Instagram from boy moms wishing they could host something similar. Do it! Host a boy and girl party, host just a boy party (you don’t have to use all pink). I happen to have a little girl so inviting the girls (and their moms and grandmoms) is a tradition I love carrying on from my own childhood, but we’re also going to Blakely’s preschool to decorate gingerbread houses with her class this week! Everybody loves gingerbread houses!
Thanks for reading along, and if you have any questions I didn’t answer, leave me a comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer!
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