Home Sweet Home: Where to Buy, Make & See Gingerbread Houses

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When it comes to baking cookies, we might have it in the bag but making load-bearing walls out of gingerbread is something perhaps left to the masters. If you want your kiddos to experience this delicious holiday activity but need a little help we’ve got your go-to guide. From bring-it-home kits to awesome assemblages that include all the decorations to inspiring displays, we’ve got a bevy of places to get your gingerbread fix. Read on and let the sugar spin begin!


San Francisco

Nutcracker Holiday Tea

The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco offers a tres elegante Nutcracker Holiday Tea. Traditional scones, mini-tea sandwiches, and petite pastries are included along with a nutcracker trinket, and a gingerbread cookie to decorate with the help of a Nutcracker Soldier! Don’t forget to check out the two-story, 22 ft high gingerbread house in the lavishly decorated lobby,  and a new addition this year: a ginger-dog-house! Sat. & Sun., Nov. 30-Dec.15,Every day from Dec.16-Dec. 29. 1:30-3:30 p.m. $74/adults; $37 children 5 and under. All Ages, but note the prices.  Reservations required: 415-772-5204. 

Online: fairmont.com

MakeArt’s Architectural Model Gingerbread
This ultimate holiday craft for the over 5 set, this  gingerbread architectural models workshop is as popular as it is fabulous. Kids can spend the afternoon designing and building a model house and then decorating it with both clever and delicious materials–candy, cookies, banana chips, and hot peppers! Part of the Museum of Craft and Design’s MakeArt classes, best for ages 8-12. Kids 6-7 are welcome with parent participation. Sat., Dec. 14. 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. $10/person. 6-12.

Online: sfmcd.org


East Bay

Gingerbread Workshops at Habitot
While Santa is busy in his workshop, kids can get busy building one of their own! They can decorate a gingerbread house with icing and kiddo’s choice of sweet treats and candies. Then take it home to display or eat! The price for this one-hour long  workshop includes admission to play time at Habitot. Please register for a session by calling 510-647-1111, ext.14, or by emailing habitotreservations@lmi.net. Fri. & Sat., Dec. 6 & 13, workshop from 12 -1 p.m, Dec. 7 & 14, 9:30 – 10: 30 a.m.$35/house, includes admission for one adult and one child. $25/members.  0-6.

Online: habitot.org

Bonus: Dec. 21 will feature a community gingerbread house decorating bonanza! Free admission and decorating of a giant gingerbread house.

Gingerbread House Building
 at Spun Sugar
Bring your creativity over to Spun Sugar, an uber-sweet baking supply store that offers oodles of awesome cake decorating and other confectionery classes. They will supply the and gingerbread pieces, icing, candy, cookies, crackers, pretzels, and even ice cream cones. Your ginger-house never looked so sweet! This year, there will be two classes, one for small houses and one for big!
Big House: Sat. Dec. 14.  9 – 11 a.m, and  Small House: Sat., Dec. 21, 10 a.m. -12 p.m.  Large house is $50 per house, max two people. Small house is $30, max two people. Ages 7 and up. Over 12 do not need a parent present.

Online: spunsugar.com

HMB-Ritz carlton-gingerbread-house-competition


Crowne Plaza’s Holiday Family Day
Bring your little cookies down to the Crowne Plaza in Palo Alto for their Holiday Family Fun Day. They can build a gingerbread house, snack on holiday goodies, and see a fire engine up close, all while enjoying holiday entertainment. Sun., Dec. 8. 1 – 4 p.m. Free with donation for Toys for Tots. 4-12. Reservations required, call 650-628-0138.

Online: cabanapaloalto.com

Gingerbread House Contest
Get some inspiration for your own creations at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay’s annual gingerbread house contest. You can bid on one for charity, in person or via an online auction, with all proceeds going to the Coastside Children’s Program. Winner will be announced at their annual tree lighting, which kids can keep company with Santa beneath the lights of their 25-foot-fir tree. Hot chocolate, cider, and cookies available throughout the evening. Houses on display throughout the month of December. Free. All Ages. Tree lighting event details.

HMB-Ritz Carlton-gingerbread clock

Marin County

Gingerbread Builders Pop-Up Shop
Build a Christmas dreamhouse at Gingerbread Builders. This annual pop-up shop is dedicated to one thing: Gingerbread Houses! You can buy kits to take back to your own place or avoid royal icing in the rug and build-it there. As shop owner John says, “kids can come here and make a total mess.” This year the location is near a Noah’s bagels and other food, so tank your little ones up on something nutritious and then dive right in. Open every day from now until Dec. 29, except Christmas Day. 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. weekends. Located at 160 Bon Air Shopping Center in Greenbrae. $31-$51. Store number: 415-847-8446. 

Online: gingerbreadbuildersco.com

Gingerbread Parties at Terrapin Crossroads
This lively family friendly restaurant and musical venue will host two gingerbread house decorating parties! Gingerbread houses and all the candy for decorating will be provided. Held in the Grate Room, there will be plenty of room for little ones to jump for joy. Then stick around for some yummy wood-fired pizza or other delicious dinner options. Wed. & Th., Dec. 18 – 19. 4 p.m. $25/house. All ages.

Online: terrapincrossroads.com

Gingerbread Workshops at the Novato Public Libraries
After a day of school/work/camp you can relax with the kids at this free gingerbread house class at the Novato library. Using graham crackers for the walls, there will be icing, candy, and other decorations. Just bring your kids and your imagination.
Mon. Dec. 16, 5 – 7 p.m. at Novato Public Library, 1720 Novato Blvd., Novato, Ca . Event details.Thurs., Dec 19, 5- 7 p.m. at South Novato Public Library, 6 Hamilton Landing, Suite 140A, Novato , Ca. Event details. Free. All Ages. For more info call 415-506-3168.

gingerbread-builders-facebook=page (640x480)Worth the Drive

Gingerbread Workshop
 at Ramekins Culinary School
Kick your gingerbread house skills up a notch at this class offered at the culinary arts school Ramekins. Kids of all ages will love this totally hands-on workshop where they will make a house from start to finish to take home and enjoy. With a wide variety of candies to decorate, the end result will be centerpiece-worthy. Sun., Dec. 15, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Ramekins Culinary School, 450 West Spain St., Sonoma, Ca. $60/child. All Ages.

Online: ramekins.com

Know of any other great places to engineer your own gingerbread creation? Let us know!

— Amber Guetebier

Photo credit: Fairmont San Francisco via flickr, Habitot Children’s Museum, Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, Gingerbread Builders Facebook page