Every year, Bellevue’s KidsQuest Children’s Museum oversees a gingerbread construction boom.
It started 15 years ago, with a workshop in the museum’s classroom, and has sprawled to become an event too big for the museum. Last year 2,100 people participated, decorating 750 houses. There are now four workshops in all, taking place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29-30, at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency. The KidsQuest staff take three days assembling the houses before the workshop, where families get together to decorate them.
Jamie Bonnett, director of education for KidsQuest, says decorating the houses is a great multi-generational experience.
“It has a lot to do with working together,” she says. “A 2-year-old or 3-year-old is going to have a really good time smushing candy on icing that a parent or grandparent has put on the house.”
For best results, Bonnett recommends families talk and divide up the responsibilities: “Who wants to be in charge of the roof, the landscape, the front, the back.”
Little kids relish simple, repetitive tasks, such as inserting pieces of candy in frosting tracks made by adults. Older kids like things with more scope for creativity, such as creating characters like snowmen or dogs. And some go for the engineering challenges, such as building a sleigh out of graham crackers and candy canes.
Families can test their math skills making patterns or determining just how many sticks of gum they need to shingle a roof.
The workshop provides the candy for the construction. Useful items include: Extra gum for roof shingles and pretzel sticks for fences or wood paneling. Extra-large marshmallows are always popular. Regular marshmallows are sometimes popular, sometimes less so, so KidsQuest staff never know how many to buy.
Bonnett says the staff usually snacks on leftover red and green M&Ms well after the event.
“Those more often get eaten than put on the houses,” she says.
The workshops are not the only gingerbread-house related event that KidsQuest puts on. On Dec. 13, at 6 p.m., KidsQuest hosts the Gingerbread Hack, encouraging ambitious kids to use pieces of gingerbread and candy to make novel architectural structures. That same evening, adults over 21 can sign up for a Gin and Gingerbread crafting experience, decorating pre-assembled houses while enjoying an adult beverage.
More gingerbread events
KidsQuest Gingerbread Workshops are 1 to 3 p.m. and 5. to 7 p.m. Friday, November 29; and 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, November 30 at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency. Cost is $60 per group of 2 to 6 people. Register in advance.
The National Nordic Museum has its Gingerbread House Family program from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Cost is $30 per family. Reservations required. Reserve by emailing Alison Church at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gingerbread Hack is 6 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, at KidsQuest Museum 1116 108th Ave NE, Bellevue. Cost is $20. Age recommendation 5 to 12. Register in advance
Gin and Gingerbread is for adults over 21. It goes from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 at KidsQuest Museum 1116 108th Ave NE, Bellevue. Cost is $30. Register in advance.
Seattle’s most spectacular display of gingerbread-related architecture, the 27th Annual Grand Seattle Sheraton Gingerbread Village is on from Nov. 23 through Jan. 1 at the Sheraton Grand Seattle, 1400 Sixth Ave. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Free.