Our house smells like the holidays. And that’s just the way I like it.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays, in that order, and since I was a child, cooking and baking have been central to the holiday season.
I’ve always loved to cook, even before I got my first Easy-Bake Oven, and that hasn’t changed. In a former life, I graduated culinary school and worked as an executive chef in several restaurants and at a high-end catering company. I also ran my own wedding cake business and took pride in having my creations play a meaningful role on such a special day.
I’ve been on a different career path for many years now, but my love for cooking and baking didn’t stop, which brings me back to why our house smells like the holidays.
For the past several years, I’ve made gingerbread houses or gingerbread villages as holiday decorations. Often I’ve recruited my family members to help. When my husband and I lived in Idaho, I made gingerbread houses from scratch but we’d also buy kits, which we’d take to my mother-in-law’s house for a decorating party. It’s a fun activity on a winter’s day and it sparked laughter and talk of holiday memories.
My mom has always been artistic, whether her interests focused on painting, stained-glass or her amazing flower garden. And making gingerbread houses is a treasured memory of my childhood.
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At one point, years ago, mom even took a class on making gingerbread houses and she saved all the handouts, which I have used for both the gingerbread recipe and as inspiration for the wintry scenes.
Moving back to Casper has given me the opportunity to again work on craft projects with my mom. Which brings me back to why our house smells like the holidays.
As you’ve likely seen, the Star Tribune is holding a gingerbread house contest. The contest, sponsored by Kitchen Connections, is a fundraiser for Food for Thought, which provides thousands of meals each year to children in need. Local residents can enter their creations into the contest, where they’ll compete for prizes, and the gingerbread houses will be auctioned off online as decorations for the winning bidders’ homes or businesses.
And while I’m not eligible for any of the prizes, Mom and I have already been hard at work on our own creation.
For those who’d like to join us …
Entries can be homemade, made from a kit, or a combination of both. All entries must be confirmed by Nov. 17th and turned in on Nov. 29th. The auction will start on Nov. 30th through Dec. 10th.
Making gingerbread houses can be a great family bonding experience and a way to create holiday memories you’ll cherish for years to come.
That this contest also allows you to make a difference for a nonprofit that does important work is just icing on the chalet.
Michelle Robinson is the president of the Casper Star-Tribune.