Finished gingerbread houses rarely turn out like the picture on the box, and that's a good thing.  An annual gingerbread house fail is a pretty fantastic holiday tradition.  

Each year we rip open the box and I turn the kids loose with the icing and candies, and instead of looking like a pretty cottage nestled into a postcard picture, our gingerbread house always ends up looking like it got hosed down with sugar ropes that are starting to melt after a doozy of a blizzard.

We've got candies right in the middle of the windows, random piles of peppermints and hollies on the roof, and so many randomly-placed sugar discs that you couldn't trace a pattern if you tried.

And we like it that way.  You can't slow kids down, especially when there is sugar involved, and I didn't even try.

My girls are 11, 10, and 8, and as I dumped the candies onto the kitchen table before the decorating process began, the youngest caught the random pieces that were starting to roll away and she popped them right into her mouth.  The thought that maybe she should put them in the pile of materials to save for the decorating process didn't even cross her mind.  As usual, all of the girls ate about a third of the candy while they were decorating, and it's amazing that any of it ended up on the house at all.

Two of the girls tried to pipe some icing out of the tube, but it was too thick and hard to maneuver, so I took over squeezing that onto the house.  It looks like a child did it, but nope, that was me.  We had quite a bit of icing leftover in the tube and to get rid of it, I held it high above the house and squeezed as hard as I could and let it drizzle onto the roof in big globs.  They had nice big white piles of icing to work with for sticking on the last bits of candy.

Perhaps if we had agreed to go slow and spend all afternoon tediously spreading icing on the roof and designing candy patterns, our gingerbread house might have turned out a little more Pinterest-worthy.  But that would have been so much less fun, and tense too, with the pressure to perform and all.  We had fun and created another imperfect holiday memory, and that's the bigger point.

Do you eat your gingerbread house?  We do, but it takes a real commitment.  We just finished eating pieces of last year's house that I broke down and put it in the freezer in a Ziploc bag.  The candy on the new house will be picked off and consumed by the end of the week, and the rest of it will be polished off sometime in 2020.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  And the more holiday fails we can work into the season, the better.  Now, let's get to work on those sugar cookies...