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Christmas is that magical time where no one fights, Christmas music plays softly in the background, board games are unanimously enjoyed and everyone is smiling and laughing, right?
Or it would be if the movies told the truth.
“I was reluctant at first to give up my ‘perfect’ Christmas, but I have learnt now to embrace the changes and found this way is actually far more fun.”
I love Christmas and find the run up to Christmas as exciting as the big day itself. Carol services, wrapping presents, putting up the Christmas tree, festive movies and lots of mince pies and chocolate… I love it all!
However, I have found since becoming a parent I have had to alter my expectations. The bows on my presents may not be perfect, the tree will not be entirely co-ordinating, and my festive baking, well that’s definitely different.
I was reluctant at first to give up my ‘perfect’ Christmas, but I have learnt now to embrace the changes and found this way is actually far more fun. The kids have helped me (to be honest – are teaching me!) to shake off my perfectionism and the result has been more laughter, more dancing in the lounge and some great new traditions are being made.
One of the newer traditions is our Gingerbread House Building Day which a friend and I started a few years ago. The first year we did it, it took us the entire day. We had to go to the park twice for breaks and were exhausted by the end, but the kids thought it was amazing. We have continued this tradition each year with certain tweaks so it doesn’t end up being a marathon, but a really fun time for all.
This is how we do it:
The day before we plan to make the house I make the dough with the kids. Early the next morning I get up, cut the dough and bake the shapes before we start (without help!)
This little bit of preparation means that when my friend arrives we are all ready to start the construction. The kids love piecing together the houses with royal icing.
At this point you do need to leave the gingerbread house to set for a while. We take this opportunity to pop out and choose the sweets to decorate it with. I find leaving the houses to set without small hands desperate to touch them, results in a better finish. It also gives us an opportunity for a bit of fresh air and a break from the sugar consumption.
On our return the gingerbread houses are ready for decoration. I put the sweets in bowls and lay everything out. By this time the kids are in a frenzy of excitement (and to be honest so am I).
This is the moment when I have to take my hands away and let the kids do their own thing. It is messy, sweets go all over the place, doors are made out of jellies and chimneys out of flumps, everyone ends up covered in sugar, happy and proud of our edible houses
If you want to have a go at a gingerbread house you can find the recipe here. There is a template you can use here. If you are not quite ready to take on the house why not start with gingerbread men and women
Elizabeth Harris has over 12 years experience making bespoke cakes for weddings and celebrations from her purpose-designed cake studio in her home in Liverpool.
33 year old Elizabeth Harris started baking in her Mum’s kitchen as a child, and never stopped. Finding herself passionate about all things baking she began by making cakes for friends and family and selling to local businesses. Over a decade later she is still just as passionate but now creates bespoke cakes for all occasions.
Elizabeth also has a range of Baking and Cake Decoration tools and equipment which is sold nationwide in Home Bargain Stores, alongside her YouTube Channel which gives you helpful tutorials on learning Cake Decoration.