Monday, October 21, 2013

Haunted Gingerbread Houses

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays ever. I love everything having to do with it: the costumes, the candy, the atmosphere. So when I got the chance to take over one of our popular annual family programs, a.k.a. Haunted Gingerbread Houses, I jumped at the chance. The basic premise is that families come in and create a "haunted" gingerbread house using a plate, a creamer carton, icing, graham crackers, and decorative items. We decorate the room, throw on some Halloween music, and voila!

Because our library has been regularly doing this program, we have it pretty well figured out and streamlined. Here is our recipe for success:

1. We hold the program on a Saturday in October. We also offer 2 sessions - 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This gives us 30 minutes in between to refill supplies and set up for the next session. 

2. We limit the program to 25 families in each session. Each family has to share one gingerbread house. This keeps the cost down for supplies and still allows lots of patrons to participate. 

3. We ask each family to bring in one decorative item before the program. We draw up a sign-up sheet with a line next to each item we need, such as a box of graham cracker or a container of icing. They are asked to then bring that item in by the Tuesday before the program. I do reminder calls on Wednesday for any families that forgot and shop for any missing items on Thursday afternoon.

4. Cut the cartons, color the orange frosting, and cut the graham crackers ahead of time. This program takes quite a bit of prep and set-up so doing this things before the day of the program will save you a lot of stress. Trust me.

5. We set up the meeting room with 2 rows of tables. We put 2 families at one table with no chairs. We also have the decorative items on tables in the back of the room. 

Our room setup
Our room setup #2

6. Set out more than one roll of paper towels and baby wipes. Things will get messy and parents appreciate being able to clean up their kids. I also used plastic table covers this year, which made clean-up a breeze!

Our table setup #1
Our table setup #2

7. When the families come in and get settled, I go over the ground rules for the program:
  • One house per family please!
  • I show a prototype of a house so people can see how they get put together.
  • Please limit the amount of decorative items for the first round. Then if there are things left over, you can go back for more. (I give each family a paper or foam bowl. This is what they use to load up on the candy/decorative items.)
  • Adults should accompany children to the decorative items table.
  • Although everything looks yummy, please don't eat anything. It's been touched by a lot of hands!
  • Please feel free to share/barter with other families.

8. Have fun! It's so neat to see what the kids come up with for their houses. I get into the spirit of the program by wearing my purple striped tights, a big purple witch's hat, and black to dress up.

Here are a couple of the masterpieces created on Saturday:

Have you ever done a similar program? Anything different? Feel free to leave them in the comments! I would also be happy to share my supply list with anyone who contacts me.

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