Well, we were a little late this year in our tradition of making a gingerbread house from scratch, but we managed to get it done over the course of two days. If you make a no-bake house, it can certainly be done in one day, but from scratch, give yourself two days so that the icing can completely harden over the basic structure overnight before you weigh it down with decorations. Put the roof on before you go off to bed, as well!
The next morning, the girls decorated - made a complete mess, but had so much fun!
This year, we tried our hand at making a star tree using a kit we bought from Magic Cabin a few years ago, which I no longer see on their site. They currently have it at amazon here. If you can find several sizes of star cookie cut-outs, though, you can easily make this with your children without this particular kit. This makes a nice gift for the holidays and can certainly be enjoyed on many levels...mmmmmmm...Just use a basic sugar cookie recipe and be sure to use icing to secure each star on the layer, turning them slightly as you add to the tree.
For those who don't wish to go through all the trouble of baking and the length of time it takes, Martha Stewart has some pictures of wonderful no-bake houses that can be found here.
And if you want to skip this all together and move right onto hands on fun for the kids complete with the smells of Christmas, then check out this wonderful article by a health conscious Denver area momma on making holiday play dough that smells like candy canes or gingerbread! I love the all natural touches she added to the presentation of this fun dough. It can make a wonderful gift from the kids to their cousins or friends - or even each other and how lovely your house will smell as the kids form warm holiday memories with this fun activity!
Happy holidays and dreams of gingerbread and candy canes!