Making Christmas cookies with my daughter was on my bucket list for the year. I haven’t quite figured how to let her “help” in the kitchen because I don’t have a safe way to put her at counter height (she won’t tolerate high chair confinement long and doesn’t have enough coordination to trust the step stool), so I had to settle for making them for her instead.

Then enter the wonderful and amazing Carrie Jones who tweeted about a gingerbread house contest and such things not being a great strength. And you know how there can be such freedom in giving yourself permission to do something badly?

And the condemned gingerbread house competition was born!

Running for the rest of December (so take advantage of post-Christmas sales on kits!), make a terrible gingerbread house and tag it #badgingerbread on your favorite social media. The only prize is the hilarity of it all.

So me, being the overachiever that I am–and someone for whom making food fulfills a creative need–I decided to make my own gingerbread for the first time. The cookies themselves came out great! The little one doesn’t have much interest in sugar if it’s not in the form of fruit but she has only stopped eating them because they’re all gone now.

The house? Well, the house was another matter entirely.

Pro tip #1: figure out the shapes you need in advance if you’re making your own. Just cutting random rectangles, triangles, and trapezoids is not, shall we say, architecturally sound.

I eventually resorted to tin foil to keep the structure standing and still had to give up on the idea of the traditional sort of roof.

Pro tip #2: tentacles are relatively easy to mold out of gingerbread dough and can give the worst design flaws the illusion of planning.

The whole process was fun and silly (and tasty!) and I highly recommend making a gingerbread house terrible on purpose. Or mostly on purpose, anyway. (Confession: I was totally expecting to have something a lot more…houselike.)

So, six more days in December (this post initially started a week ago when it seemed like much more time). Will you accept the #badgingerbread challenge?

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