The Lord of the Gingerbread House Exhibit

Writer from Talon Staff Enters Los Altos Holiday Gingerbread House Contest

The holiday season is filled with lights, festive decorations, giant candy canes and an overall cheery atmosphere. But perhaps the most important of the holiday traditions next to trimming a tree is building a gingerbread house.

This year, I decided to enter the annual gingerbread house building contest, organized by the Los Altos Recreation Department and held at the Hillview Community Center. The exhibition ran from December 3 to 7 and contestants of all ages were able to enter houses decorated with colorful frosting and lavish candies. At the end of the competition, the most extraordinary houses would be chosen to go on display at the San Jose Children’s Museum.

For many, gingerbread house-building is a tradition of fun, but for some it is strictly business. Learning from experience, I found the construction of my gingerbread house much more difficult than it appeared. First, there had to be a plan and blueprint for the architecture of the actual structure. A creative theme is extremely important. The ideas can range from “Little House on the Prairie” to “Lord of the Rings.” With the Tower of Sauron as my plan, there was no easy way to construct a such a massive gingerbread tower.

I was forced to create three batches of gingerbread for the tower, which ended up being five because of my incompetence with measurements. Grueling work mixing molasses with sugar and flour occupied by my entire Friday night. By the end, my parents were screaming about the mess I had made and the fact that I was covered in powdered sugar. After working into the wee hours of the morning and finally cutting the gingerbread into pieces for the tower from a handmade stencil, all my structural needs were taken care of. If I had not taken geometry freshman year, my house would have simply crumbled like a mediocre sugar cookie.

Next to the tedious application of frosting,. With a careful use of colors and texture, my house would surely tower over the competition.The most important parts of the house were placed in order to give my breakthrough design and appealing look. With the help of my artistic team, we coated the Tower of Sauron in delicious sugary delicacies from head to toes. From Dots to small candy canes, the creativity and furnishing of the house was vital. Sticky white frosting, colorful cookies and candies made our masterpiece like a battle ready fortress set on conquering Middle Earth.

Unfortunately, the stress was doubled during the drying process as pieces of candy started to fall from the steep sloped walls. Emergency preparations were taken. Heavy stick frosting and new candy was applied to finish the project and submit it to capture the eyes of beholders at the exhibit.

The exhibit was large and bustling, and the competition’s organizers and visitors were impressed with the large turnout. Houses from Hawaiian Holiday Getaways to replicas of the Los Altos Town Hall were all spectacles to be seen.

Acid gingerbread house enthusiast and visitor to the Community Center Gayle Dilley was glad to find the exhibit itself had expanded since past years.

“I was pleased to see that we had many more participants this year,” Gayle said

Like the thousands of slaves it took to build the great pyramids of Giza, my artistically challenged team and I spent nearly four hours baking, two hours building and one hour decorating. From what I now know, the construction of a gingerbread house is not a task for the faint of heart. It requires discipline, skill and a certain artistic touch which I seem to lack. However, the experience is worth doing and the wide variety of sugar architectural feats is unprecedented in Gingerbread House Exhibit and is a delicious part of the holidays.