Candy for Dinner because It's the Annual Gingerbread House Party

Ever since December 1, the kids have been having a little piece of chocolate from their advent calendars as part of their breakfast, so I figured it was only fair that I also got to eat candy for dinner on this, one of my favourite nights of the year--my annual gingerbread house party for some of my closest girlfriends. This tradition started out about 11 years ago, I think, because my first memory of the Kitchenaid whirring away making batches upon batches of royal icing was when Maddie was still a wee baby, strapped in her car seat on the counter and a totally captive audience, watching me run around the kitchen before my guests arrived. Now she's graduated to my second- or third-in-command, if Austin is around, and they're both part of the action as my friends are sweet enough to include them in decorating their own masterpieces.

Over the years, the group has whittled itself down to the true "hard-corers" who come armed and ready with blueprints, plans, spreadsheets, and bags of candy/cereal/props/lights to adorn their creations, and be part of the (generally) warmhearted "competition." Hard to believe that everyone starts with the same simple pre-assembled six-inch house and ends up with such completely unique and amazing results. From English cottages to pink wonderlands to silver winter scenes and even a Whoville extravaganza a few years back when the Grinch was in theatres, the possibilities are endless and we've seen it all over the years. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas in this household without feeling sticky for two days straight, finding globs of royal icing stuck in my hair the next day, hearing all the leftover dragees/sprinkles/candies being sucked up by the vacuum later that night, and enjoying friendly female company and competition in my warm kitchen. Thank god for girlfriends at any time of year.