Visions of gingerbread

Motivated young designers plastered multicolored candied details onto thick ginger walls during the gingerbread house workshop at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen Dec. 4.

“I got to do some of the icing,” said 5-year-old Virginia Kate Brandt. “And I’m going to put on marshmallows next.”

“I’m going to put on sprinkles,” her brother Jack blurted out.

Dietician Donna Sibley helped run the workshop at One Nineteen. This is the third year for the event, which was offered to 18 families. More were placed on a waiting list.

Sibley said the holiday tradition of building gingerbread houses means a lot to many families including her own.

“My mother made gingerbread houses every year with my children and that’s why gingerbread means so much to me,” Sibley said.

Sibley said it encourages kids to have fun with food.

“You get to use your imagination to do whatever you want to with them –– no two are alike,” Sibley said.

And she was right.

Some constructed roofs with Triscuit shingles, while others covered their roofs in sprinkles. One family covered the yard around their house with coconut shavings like snow. The neighbors lined their driveway with gumdrops.

“I liked doing the scenery because we used a lot of candy,” said 6-year-old James Hunter Fairly of North Shelby. “We used candy canes and skittles and chocolate.”

His dad, Erle, and mother, Crissy, said it definitely put them in the spirit.

“It’s been a really fun family activity,” Erle said. “We’ve gotten to just really enjoy the time together.”

Grandparents also got in on the fun. Jim and Anne Summers brought their grandkids, Virginia Kate and Jack Brandt.

“We just wanted to do something festive with them as they get excited for Christmas,” Anne said.

“She (wife Anne) usually bakes gingerbread men for them every year, so this is a step up,” Jim Summers said.

Parents like Tabitha Morgan enjoyed carrying on the tradition outside their own home.

“I make gingerbread with them every year, but thought it would be nice to do it somewhere I didn’t have to worry about all of the mess and could just enjoy the time with them,” Morgan said.

Her son Evan, 4, and daughter Morgan, 7, really put on their thinking caps to create their masterpiece.

Morgan even crafted a door for their colorful house from a Hershey’s chocolate bar and a yellow M&M doorknob.

“Part of health and wellness is being with family and building relationships,” Sibley said.

She added that a bit of candy here and there wouldn’t harm your child’s health. But she said if you do have a diabetic child or a child with other dietary needs, you could opt for materials such as dried fruit or pretzels.