December 19, 2018
Today, I wanted to share with you a fun and frugal Christmas party idea that is fun for kids of all ages. We hosted a Graham Cracker House Decorating Party this year for all of the cousins. We had 14 kids from age 5 to 17 and they all seemed to enjoy it. Actually, we had a hard time getting some of the teenagers to stop decorating so we could eat dinner!
I set up my dining room table and a long folding table so that there would be enough room for everyone to decorate. I threw on plastic tablecloths from Walmart ($1) each and used some cheap garland ($3), to run down the middle of the tables.
I am not usually a fan of tinsel but I really liked this clear/white tinsel I found at Walmart ($3). I set the tinsel on top of the garland and added some ornaments that I already had on hand. Super simple and cheap and reusable but it added a lot!
Probably the most important part of the prep is to make the graham cracker houses. DON'T let this scare you. You will need to make a batch of royal frosting (this is the kind that dries super hard). I use the recipe on my AmeriColor Meringue Powder. Americolor is available at specialty baking stores and online. You can find Wilton Meringue Powder at Michaels, Walmart, Joanns and online - anywhere they sell cake decorating supplies.
Keep in mind that royal frosting hardens quickly so you will want to keep a damp paper towel over your bowl of frosting. Fill a piping bag with a tip that has a small to medium round opening (Wilton #3 or #4).
You will have to cut the front and back pieces with a serrated knife. I measured my graham crackers and used the little holes as guides to get the right shape/slope for the roof. A couple of tips: don't press down, just saw back and forth, allow a few extra graham crackers in case of breaking, generic graham crackers will work just fine and once you get one cut, you can use it as a pattern.
The easiest way I have found to construct the houses is to pipe the frosting along the bottom/long edge of a graham cracker and stick it to the base (2 square foam plates was a cheap option that worked really well). Hold it for 15 seconds and it will stand up all by itself if you used enough royal frosting. Then proceed with the front pointed piece, another long side and the back pointed piece, gluing them all together with royal frosting along the edges. Last, glue the two roof pieces on, one at a time.
*If this step intimidates you, you can actually use a glue gun to glue the house together. Of course, this makes it not edible but it does work.
It is best to let the houses sit a few hours or overnight. Then you are ready to decorate. While you can attach the candy with royal icing, we choose to use vanilla canned frosting because it is so much easier for the kids to work with (it's cheaper too).
Of course you can use any candy. We used chocolate chips, peppermint candies, pretzels, Chex cereal, red hots, gum drops, M&M's, Sixlets, gummy candies and various marshmallows. Locally, Smith's and Winco have great bulk food sections where you can get candy for the graham cracker houses. Another fun way to save money when hosting a decorating party is to ask each child/family to bring candy to decorate the houses with.
It was such a fun Gingerbread/Graham Cracker Decorating party! All of the kids/teens enjoyed using their creativity and having something fun and yummy to take home.