The manly art of building a gingerbread house
When I first heard Associate Editor Devanie Angel suggest each of us do some sort of crafty thing and then write about it for this year’s holiday gift guide, I admit I had my doubts. I thought it sounded like, well, a chick thing. Then, when in the natural shuffle of daily life I wound up with the assignment of building a gingerbread house rather than painting a ceramic coffee mug or throwing clay, my misgivings were confirmed.
So I did what any man would do in my situation: I recruited three other guys—ages 7, 8 and 11—to help.
We bought our, uh, building supplies at Michael’s arts and crafts store on East Avenue, near what’s left of the North Valley Mall. We purchased a pre-baked kit from Wilton Enterprises ($12.95), which promises “Everything Included! Easy & Fun for the Whole Family!”
That sounded fair enough. I asked the clerk at Michael’s if she thought it was OK for guys to build a gingerbread house.
“Well, my brother and dad both build houses,” she said.
“Yes, but I’ll bet they don’t build them out of gingerbread,” I guessed.
We got home with the kit, laid out a work spot and immediately hit a snag. The direction’s “You will also need” list included a rolling pin. We didn’t have one. But with some difficulty and a bit of wasted time, we finally located one, which allowed us to get back to the task at hand. (In fact, we never used the rolling pin, and I can only surmise that it serves as a tool for the foreman—me—to encourage cooperation from of his workers.)
The most strenuous part was mixing the powdered icing with warm water without the aid of an electric mixer. We used a fork, which proved pretty labor-intensive. The icing serves as concrete and holds the pre-fab walls and roof together, which is the basic construction. The decorating of the brown-sided house with the rest of the icing, gumballs, candy canes, red and green mints and candy-coated chocolate balls are what separates the grand villas from the shotgun shacks.
In the end—it took about an hour—our little bungalow looked like it belonged in a children’s book illustrated by Salvador Dali. The walls are crooked, the windows and door seem to be melting, the candy cane chimney is leaning and the foundation is cracked.
But we proved that four manly fellows can indeed build a gingerbread house, even if it does end up looking like a "fixer-upper."