We have done a gingerbread creation every year for about 6 years now. We serve it at the party for my mom's side of the family, which is why it wasn't done this year until after Christmas (our party was on the 1st).
The first four years we did pretty standard houses, but last year I saw a picture of a kit someone had out for a gingerbread train, and decided it would be neat to do one of those; my step-father loved trains. I didn't buy the kit - I came up with the design for ours myself, but I thought it looked pretty cute.
We had the train running through Santa's campground.
See his feet sticking out of the tent?
My personal favorites that year were the fire - made from melted red and orange Lifesavers (we've done the melted Jolly Rancher lake before), and the black M&M's that I used for the coal car behind the engine.
This year I wanted to do something a little different again so I got the idea of doing Santa's workshop. We may have gone a bit over-board.
Here's the outside. Obviously the sleigh and the two reindeer aren't edible, but aside from those and the sack the "coal" was in, everything else was edible. The cotton candy "snow" on the roof compacted down (as I thought it might) and looked much more like slightly melting snow by the time everyone showed up. The "bricks" were some kind of flat, sour, gummy thing Bree found and had the idea for using as bricks. When we didn't have quite enough to cover all three sides, she's also the one who came up with the idea of "painting" the top (with thinned-down royal icing) and just using the bricks under the window to mimic a mixed medium of siding and brick you see on some houses. T.Lynn was responsible for making sure our lime slice bushes had snow on them.
Here's the inside. The sack of coal (black bubble gum) is just to the right of the door. The curtains are rainbow Twizzlers. I'd never seen them in rainbow colors before - at least, not that I remembered, though hubby tried to convince me otherwise.
The overall dimensions of the board are 22&1/4" squared, so there was quite a bit of candy stuck down for the floor and walkway. If you can't tell, the floor is peanut brittle and the walkway is made of candy pillows. Beenie did almost all of the work on the walkway and the chocolate covered pretzel forest on either side of the shop. She also came up with the idea for the lollipop lights for the walkway.
The windows were a clear, hard candy we melted down in the same way I've melted Lifesavers and Jolly Ranchers in the past. You can just make out the corner of one of the toy solider's hats on the other side of the wall through this window. The hardest part was trying to make them fit in the window. It's much easier to do the fire (let it melt and break it up - it will create shards that look like flames) and the lakes because they don't have to have a definate shape. I ended up melting them, scoring them while they were still hot and Kay broke them carefully along the score once they were cool. One of them did crack, but that's okay. It didn't look too bad in the finished product. Besides, according to Ri, Santa's house is really old; you have to expect the occasional need for repairs.
The elves, toy soldiers, and jack-in-the boxes were all white chocolate Bree and I molded. T.Lynn constructed the work benches.
Santa's bag is made from white chocolate modeling candy - basically a mix of chocolate and corn syrup. It's filled with all kinds of candy.
I made one for the sleigh too. After all, Santa can't fit everything in the sleigh in one trip. Beenie put a few bits of the "snow" in too, as if it had blown off the top of the workshop.
But hands down, I believe my favorite this year was the globe. You did know Santa had a globe right? This was another of Bree's ideas. She found this mottled blue sucker and got the idea for the globe because she thought the mix of blues looked like the ocean. She dyed a little of the royal icing green for the continents and piped them on herself. Africa (on the left) was one of my favorites. But then, I really liked Austrailia and New Zealand as well (Really - she remembered New Zealand - yay for geography studies!). I think she did an outstanding job, especially considering the medium she was using (she hasn't done much cake decorating), and the size of the object she was working on. And the ice caps - of course Antarctica kind of got swallowed up in the icing that was used to attach it to it's candycane stand, but hey - it was there, and it still kind of looks like Antarctica is morphing out of the base.
An aftermath shot.
They still came and snagged a bit more off the wreck site before it was completely done away with.
To be honest, I cringe at the thought of that much sugar, not to mention the corn syrup that must be in all that, but I don't think once in a while it will hurt them all that much, besides, we do reign them in - they can't eat it all in one day. And, I only do this at the party that has the most children - you know, so my niece, nephew, and all my cousins' kids can join in on the sugar rush (and take some of that candy home with them!).
The girls are already making plans for next (ahh - this) year's creation. Apparently it will be Santa's vacation retreat in the Bahamas.