|Come in the back door|
|and exit through the front! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!|
It really is the most wonderful time of the year. It's the time where we all gather with our loved ones to enjoy each other's company, share good food and drink, spreading good will to one and all in the spirit of Christmas. The one day where we cast all of that aside is the day of Dianne's Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party. On this day, a group of us gather to try to one up one another and create the most fabulous gingerbread house of the year and be crowned Queen of the Beach. Actually, some of us are basically self proclaimed Queens of the Beach, but no matter. If you're not first, you're last.
|Don't get too close. He bites.|
I came dangerously close to missing this year's festivities as I was booked to work on that very day but, as luck would have it, a Christmas miracle occurred, my job was cancelled and I was free to attend. Okay, seeing that my job was cancelled, it also meant that I wasn't going to make any money that week but who's counting money at a time like this? Not me.
|My gingersnap pathway invites you in|
|only to be stopped by the snowflake covered metal detectors at the door. You'll have to leave those scissors outside ma'am|
Because I was not really planning on attending, I had not only NOT bought any decorations for my house, I had not really given it much thought at all. I had pissed a few houses that I liked but only half heartedly since I was pretty sad that I was going to miss the fun. On the morning of, I ventured out into the frigid cold to my usual spots, Dollarama and Bulk Barn but this time, there was a new game in town as well. I bought those shimmering glitter balls that I transformed into my disco fence at Target. Target is a game changer, people.
|Thank you Target for you shimmery disco balls , festive snowflake bits and bobs and polka dot paper straws|
Last year, one of the regular front runners told me that she thought that everything used should be edible, despite the fact that almost every house that year, including mine, contained flashing lights, little statues, cut outs and tiny trees from Dollarama. This year, in a panic enduced fugue because this was so last minute, I decided that in her honour, I would attempt to make a house with as few edible bits as possible!
|Don't eat the hedge!|
I got there and settled in beside Ms Everything must be edible and we both got a jump on things since we were the only ones to arrive on time. Choosing where you are going to sit is very strategic in these situations. You want to sit next to someone who will challenge you but not next to someone who will steal your candy, your ideas and your scissors. One year I sat next to someone who was ten times messier than I am (if you can even imagine what that looks like) and it messed me up because, by the halfway point, both of our stations were covered in icing and candy shards and her stuff got all over my board. Luckily, she was also very lovely and fun so it all evened out at the end of the day but you have to weigh all of this stuff out in advance. If you grew up playing Risk, you will be at an advantage.
|This beauty sat to my right. I think she was trying to blind me with those street lamps.|
By the time the majority of the ladies got settled, I was almost done but, because it is how I work, I like to sit there and take a break, look again and then add more stuff. It wasn't until the very last moment that I added the bordering hedge and greenery under the windows. If you give me an hour, I will take an hour. If you give me four hours, I will just keep going until you pull the plug.
This party would be a cultural anthropologist's wet dream. We have everything from the lovely southern bell over here to your left who's actual real life house is immaculate and tastefully decorated but each year she fashions her gingerbread houses like Jackson Pollock hopped up on pills. Nuts, seeds and sprinkles are flying through the air, icing is being glopped on willy nilly, all in a flurry of artistic abandon. I think that a glass or two of wine might be involved in the making of these particular houses. It's just an educated guess. She is generally the big draw of the evening and everyone wanders over to cheer her on at some point.
We have a couple of other people who we just refer to as
These women start out with good intentions and will manage to make one side of the roof perfect but they get bored by the time they are midway through the other side and they just start gluing on the biggest candy they can find to make it end faster. I must give a shout out to our friend, Halloween, who managed to ignore that damned squirrel this year and made a fine looking little cottage that was very symmetrical and charming.
|Does that picnic table look edible to you?|
There are the anal pre planners who start drafting up designs mid August. These women come with additions they have fashioned themselves at home, turrets and carports, ponds made of melted blue jolly ranchers and pre-made fondant snowmen. I think I recall a house with actual moving pieces one year and perhaps even a musical element a time or two. Okay, full disclosure- one year I made windows and doors out of decorated graham crackers and brought them in. I am not immune to the pressure.
|house of 2011 with graham cracker doors and windows.|
This year, for the first time ever, there was a prize for the best house because, who are we kidding, this is a total competition here. There were monitors making sure that nobody cheated - no voting for yourself- and Ms Everything must be edible won a well deserved first place. Her white/black and silver ice palace was a thing of beauty, with a silver pond, shimmering trees, cake eating snowmen and mirrored silver candy stones on the cottage walls and I absolutely voted for hers. Even though I love each and every house because they are all, in their own way, stunning and full of character and whimsy, we are all whiner- I mean winners, blah, blah, blah.
As expected, there were grumblings of voter fraud but relax. You have a whole year to plan for
|all nestled in their cello beds, ready to make the journey home|