GeekMom Holiday Traditions!

The cousins house Photo: Judy Berna
The cousins house Photo: Judy Berna

Welcome to the GeekMom Holiday Countdown! The GeekMom writers have decided that since we all have our own unique family traditions in the month of December, it might be fun to share them with each other, and with you. Feel free to add your own in the comments section or borrow some new ideas from us. Our goal is to keep December a month full of making memories with our kids, not stressing about to-do lists a mile long.

Let me start off the countdown with one of our favorite traditions.

Because I’m not a baker, the idea of making gingerbread houses didn’t appeal to me. Then I saw a magazine article showing how graham crackers can work just as well. After all, the fun in building a gingerbread house is sticking on the candy, not practicing architecture 101.

We learned early on that having a solid base is critical to keeping houses upright and keeping disappointment tears at bay. In the weeks before we do our big build, I collect boxes of all shapes and sizes. Oatmeal packet boxes are a great fit. Circular oatmeal boxes can also stir some creative ideas. Take a peek in your pantry and look at each item as a shape, not a potential menu item. I’ve been known to dump out the contents of a box just to have a great base for a gingerbread house.

Photo: Judy Berna
Photo: Judy Berna

In a perfect world I’d stir up some frosting with extra tartar in it, because that’s what makes frosting turn into cement by the end of the day. But after ruining a few mixers with the hard work that requires, we found that plain frosting from the grocery store can work just as well, especially if you are using it just to stick on candy, not for sturdy house construction.

Of course the table is lined with bowls, filled with every kind of colorful candy we can find. The dollar store is a good place to look for creative, cheap ideas. Don’t forget to think outside the box. Shredded wheat cereal makes great textured roof shingles. Teddy Grahams and Gummy characters make fun people to live in your houses. Stick pretzels make fun fences and thicker rods of pretzels make an awesome log cabin.

Photo: Judy Berna
Photo: Judy Berna

The beauty of this project is that ‘kids’ of all ages will enjoy it. We’ve done building parties at grandma’s house, with the adults working alongside the preschoolers. Everyone has their own flair and their own ideas. It’s a great project for teenagers and their friends. I’ve been surprised by how long my teens will spend working on making their houses just right.

While you’re thinking outside the box, don’t limit yourself to squares and rectangles. A cut down Pringles can makes a great silo. Through the years we’ve seen sheds, garages, pools, streams, tropical huts, and unique cars

made from candy and graham crackers. Here are some samples of the fun we’ve had through the years (and yes, this activity is ripe for great photos!) Check in with us again tomorrow, for another great activity or tradition that comes to you from one of our awesome GeekMom writers.