Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Graham Cracker House Tutorial

You know, if I ever thought it would last this long, I would have written it on my calendar the first year I tried this project. It was many years ago. I am thinking less than 26 years, but more than 22 years ago. That is when I began making graham cracker houses for children to decorate.

With five children in seven years, the only way I could keep up with housework, laundry, cleaning, Sunday School and crafts was by not sleeping on Thursday night. I would put the kids to bed, start a marathon laundry and cleaning session and, around 1 a.m. or so, start crafting. I began teaching our 1st grade Sunday School class in 1985 (and continued until 2004 when I was bumped up, without my knowledge or consent to 7th & 8th graders) and was also my oldest daughter's brownie leader. I would assemble a village for the girl scouts and make a dozen or so extra for my children and my sunday school class.  
Step One: separate graham crackers into squares.
Spread frosting on one edge
When the American Girl Dolls debuted, I was employed a library assistant at our local library and had to include the houses in our Samantha Christmas tea. I think that year I made 25-30 houses per session. I can't remember if there were two or four sessions . . . I would hate to imagine how many houses I have built over the years. If I could magically add them together and wrinkle my nose to make them lifesize, there would be no homeless. (Wouldn't that be magical and wonderful?)
Step Two: spread frosting on opposite edge

Step Three: Attach an unfrosted cracker for a side wall
Step Four: repeat on other side for the opposite side all.
Step Five: add a cracker buttered as in Step Three as your fourth wall.

Step Six - butter two edges for your  "attic floor"
Crackers are not perfectly square, you will see how this fits on top!

Many years ago, but less than 22 years, we began a service project called "Make It , Bake It, Take It" for the youth of our church. On the first Sunday of December, those in grades 1 and up gather to make a craft and bake cookies and take them to the seniors in our parish. I make my houses so the kids have something to decorate and take home to enjoy. 
Step Seven: Butter the "open" sides of your attic floor
I have learned, over the years, the do's and don't's of graham cracker construction. I began mixing my frosting with raw egg whites, changed to meringue powder when I found that was unhealthy, changed back when I found my recipe more sturdy. Don't worry, I have educated the children in the hazards of raw eggs. They all know it is egg cement and cannot be eaten! As a matter of fact, I overheard one of the children this year explaining to his mother that we can't eat the frosting because it has "rotten eggs" in it. I did not correct him!

Step Eight: Butter only one side of roof section one
We used to decorate with candy but there were many roof or total collapses due to the weight of the decorations. I could not convince the kids that "less is more", so I had to put on my thinking cap. I added stick pretzels to create log cabins and even spent hours cutting gum drops into smaller pieces to try to get it right. 

Step Nine: Insert "unbuttered" side of roof section into the frosted groove.
Insert a plain graham cracker in the opposite groove and lean into the buttered top!
A light bulb dawned one year when I spotted the mini colored marshmellows in the store! Unfortunately, Aldi's doesn't carry the colored ones and, since I finance this project on my own, I had to come up with an even better plan.
Hint: Assemble to the point of the attic floor, let dry before adding the roof sections.
This year's event had over 45 participants, plus adults. What a wonderful day of friendship, fellowship, food and fun. I made almost 50 houses for the kids to decorate. For this year, I decided to use cereal. Why didn't I think of this before? Brightly colored, light weight and inexpensive! 
Hint: Butter one section with frosting at a time.
Decorate and move on to another section


The kids always enjoy decorating the houses year after year. I hear some families "shellac" them and keep them as a Christmas Village!

My "Rotten Egg Frosting" Recipe (for decorating use only, not edible)
1 bag of powdered sugar
3-5 egg whites
Mix with an electric mixer
If it is too thick, add water by the tablespoon and remix.


!



It is a lot of work and a lot of time management, buying the materials, building the houses, setting up for the kids, frantically calling my dear husband to drop off what I accidentally left behind; but the kids really enjoy the "home building" and that makes it worth the effort! 

A tablescape? Well, I am going to have to go with this photo. With an entire housing development under construction on the tabletop, this is the only scape that appeared!

Linking with that most gracious hostess who features such elegant and inspiring table (!) Susan at Between Naps on the Porch: http://betweennapsontheporch.blogspot.com/2010/12/christmas-tablescape-with-italian.html 

11 comments:

  1. Hi Miss Merry from Ohio. Love your idea. I am having the granddaughters over this week-end for cookie decorating and wanted to try making houses, thanks for the instructions.
    I forget where you said you were from....northern Ohio????? I am near Columbus. Happy Holidays.

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  2. Fabulous tutorial. You are a saint!!!! 50 houses and people making houses!
    What a delightful way to get together, and a whole lot of selfless work from you!
    These are such wonderful little houses. They will be memory makers.
    Yvonne

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  3. This is just wonderful. What a wonderful way to get together and do something festive for the season.

    I haven't made graham cracker or gingerbread houses in years. Now, you make me want to add THAT to my over scheduled calendar. Grin.

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  4. What a great idea! Cant wait to try it!

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  5. How cute! I would say that you are truly the Graham House Queen!!!
    Kudos to for all that you do and for your thrifty shopping. Hugs, Ginger

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  6. Thanks for visiting, I bought the cake stands at Hobby Lobby a couple of years ago. The cake stand under the large cloche came from TJM a couple of weeks ago. Merry Christmas, Ginger

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  7. This is a wonderful idea, I'm going to share it with our education leader at our church. I'm sure the children would love this project. Thanks so much for the tutorial and for sharing your tips for success.

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  8. How cute and lots of fun for the children. Thanks for your sweet visit.

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  9. Your community is incredibly blessed by your generosity. Thank you for the tutorial...what a marvelous project! The cereal is a great idea. Cherry Kay

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Thank you so much for stopping by to visit! I love your comments and suggestions and read them all.

Miss Merry