Visit the pretty houses that ginger can build
Home sweet home never tasted so good. Gingerbread houses are always a favorite holiday tradition, especially in New England, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to view displays this season. These aren’t your grandmother’s gingerbread houses — shredded-wheat-thatched roofs, pretzel windows, and gumdrop shrubbery. Many of this year’s gingerbread houses are decked-out McMansions, bi-level homes dolled up with ornate frosting and elaborate candy decor.
Here's where to admire the best of them, as well as places where children can make their own houses — and adults can too (and sip martinis).
Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel
Everyone's a kid at heart at this celebrated Boston hotel, which is putting the welcome mat out for adults at this year's annual Gingerbread House for Grown-ups festivities. You'll sip cocktails while decorating your own house to take home for the holidays. The cost: $75 per person, which includes an assembled gingerbread house, candy decorations and accoutrements, expert help from the hotel's culinary team, wine, beer, holiday cocktails, and canapés. Make it date night and the cost is $125 per couple, sharing one gingerbread house to decorate. 21+. www.fairmont.com
Three bakers at the Deerfield Inn, in historic Deerfield, will demonstrate how to make the ideal gingerbread house on Dec. 6, and all participants can enter a contest to submit their own Deerfield Inn gingerbread inn. The prize — an overnight stay at the inn and a ginger martini — goes to the gingerbread inn "deemed the closest likeness to the inn." All entries will be on display throughout the holiday season. www.deerfieldinn.com
Appalachian Mountain Club's Highland Center
Make a weekend of it. The 13th annual Gingerbread Weekend will be held starting on Dec. 11 at AMC's Highland Center in Crawford Notch, N.H. The festivities will include a gingerbread house decorating competition with prizes, cookie decorating, guided family hikes, kids' movies, and a Saturday fireside social with trivia and games. Judging and voting take place Saturday night, and the gingerbread house winners will be announced Sunday at 9 a.m. For lodging rates and more information: http://activities.outdoors.org/search/index.cfm/action/details/id/84910
De Palm Tours
A Gingerbread Brunch at this turn-of-the-century Beacon Hill mansion is offered select Sundays during the holidays (Dec. 6, 20). The cost is $55 for adults for a gingerbread house with all the trimmings to decorate, as well as brunch goodies like beef tenderloin and eggs, Belgian waffles, omelets, lamb chops, smoked salmon eggs Benedict, and more. For children ($35) it includes the gingerbread house and decorating trimmings along with a menu selection of scrambled eggs, burgers, French toast, and more. www.hampshirehouse.com
The Community Design Resource Center of Boston
The fourth annual CDRC Gingerbread Design Competition, Exhibition and Auction will be held at the Boston Society of Architects Space in Boston Dec. 9 through Jan. 3. This year's theme is "Imagine Boston," and the competition is open to architecture and design firms, schools, and individuals. The displayed gingerbread houses (like the one pictured above) are also part of an auction "that works like a people's choice, with awards, such as the coveted 'golden spatula' given to the house that garners the greatest total dollar value of donations, plus other awards that the judges come up with" says a CDRC spokesperson. "All donations go toward the work of the CDRC, which is a volunteer-based nonprofit that connects communities in need with professional design services." It is free and open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. A reception will be held on Dec. 21, and is free to the public. Note: Monetary donations can be made online and in person. www.cdrcboston.org
This re-created 1830s village in Sturbridge will be all decked out for its annual Christmas by Candlelight the first three weekends of December (Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 4-9 p.m.). One of the highlights of the event is a gingerbread house display, including replicas of some of the historic buildings at Sturbridge. www.osv.org
Newport Gingerbread Mansion
Each year, the Breakers mansion in seaside Newport, R.I., is home to an annual display of gingerbread mansions created by local bakers. This year, the display has a new home in the second-floor loggia, creating a holiday village complete with a garden-scale model of the New York Central Railroad that will travel through the display. The prize goes to the baker who can create the best replica of one of the Newport mansions, made of entirely edible materials. The display runs through the holidays. www.newportmansions.org