This entry is very much a group effort, that evolved from thinking I'd provide some pre-made kits for my guests, to the idea that they could each design a component for a sort of modern structure, to surprising me with a complete design by our youngest member, from which we created this unique gingerbread building:
The night before the festivities, I made a batch-and-a-half of dough. After explaining my "everyone design a piece" idea and providing paper, pens, and cardboard, I went into the kitchen to see about warming up the gingerbread so it could be rolled out. When I went back to the living room, Marisa and Gabe had conferred and Marisa had drawn a picture of what they thought we should build...
...and Gabe was starting to make pattern pieces out of the cardboard. The structure was to have a garage, main house, attached guest cottage, and a tower with a globe at the top, inspired by Jack Skellington's place in "Nightmare Before Christmas." We ended up making everything but the garage (only because we ran out of time).
Here are some action shots:
Gingerbread walls, fresh from the oven. For the windows we cut openings in the dough to fit these cool window-looking pretzels and placed them into the openings before baking, which allowed them to be sealed into the dough as it cooked. Nancy did the lion's share of the rolling, relieved periodically by Janet.
Marisa (architect) and Gabe (primary contractor) at work on construction
Main house and guest cottage walls are up
The tower and especially the globe provided the biggest challenges in trying to figure out how to make them, and more importantly how to make them sturdy. After rejecting three or four ideas for making the globe, I hit upon one that worked: wrapping foil around two small Pyrex popover cups, draping the dough over, baking, and then sealing the two halves together (after removing the cups, of course).
Installing the "stained glass" (i.e., melted colored sugar crystals) in the main house
Construction is almost complete, the tower is in place, and you can see some of the stained glass pieces in the foreground; the tower was made by cutting a sheet of dough, wrapping it around a foil-wrapped paper towel tube, and then wrapping that in parchment paper, and although the seam didn't meld on baking it was easy to "glue" together with our powdered sugar cement
And at last, all the trim and details are in place, including shutters to match the windows, awnings (halves of Fruit Loops), design elements on the tower and upper walls, a walkway (halved Hot Tamale bricks and chocolate candy corn stones) to the front door past the matured landscaping, vines cover the walls, and the pond is ready for swimming
Lit from within, with light shining through the stained glass windows
And the back of the building
Many, many thanks to Janet, Nancy, Marisa, and Gabe for design and construction, and to Kathie, Phil, and Joy for cheering us all on. I am SO looking forward to doing this again next year...if not sooner!