Dear Gossips,

There’s an awesome annual Christmas tradition that goes down at my friend Lorella’s. A very important title is at stake:  Best Gingerbread House. It’s a live competition - the gingerbread houses are created at the same time in the same place over the course of an evening. Here are the rules:

Everyone starts with the same store-bought kit. Everything used (except for the cardboard base) must be edible. It doesn’t have to taste good (like a bay leaf or a dried bean or pasta) but it must be (technically) a food item.  You’re not even allowed to prop anything up with a toothpick – ALL EDIBLE.  Ready-made purchases are not acceptable. Like, you can’t go to a bakery and buy a gorgeous marzipan Santa with reindeer and then plunk it down on the roof of your house.  Everything you see was made after the contest started – no pre-prep.  Construction began at 4pm.

1.Oh Christmas Tree – A fresh tree lot with families choosing their tree. Some dried rosemary was used as the pine needles shed on the lot.  The cottage is covered in stick pretzels, decorated with garland and Christmas-light-shaped sprinkles.  One little girl has adorable blonde braids and the little man selling the trees has hilarious male-pattern baldness and a bit of Movember going on.

2.Away In A Manger
– Special care was taken for the Wise Men’s gifts. The hay is dyed toasted coconut. The wood paneling on the stable was hand carved from chocolate mixed with icing. This house smelled the best and definitely keeps the Christ in Christmas.

3.White Christmas –  Entire surface of house iced white with piped details.  That’s a Polo mint chimney with cotton candy smoke and a Popeye cigarette (except now they call them “candy sticks”) log pile beside the yogurt-covered raisin fireplace and fondant snowman whose nose is one tiny white sprinkle.  Freehand piped icing punctuated with silver dragees and edible glitter on the roof.

4.Santa Off Duty – Santa goes tropical on December 26th.  He’s relaxing with a drink that has a holly sprig in it (holly-shaped sprinkles), and Rudolph is chilling out in the brown sugar sand wearing tiny sunglasses, the hut is thatched with a bay leaf roof, and that’s a more than foot long cinnamon stick with bay leaves for a palm tree. Note the tiny details on this one including a tiny orange pail and shovel and tiny black flip flops beside footprints in the sand. (Also? Breasts on a man.)

5.Christmas Castle – This is made from the same store bought kits as the rest, supplemented with graham crackers and ice cream cones to completely change the shape. In real life, the swirly blue chocolate moat looks like it’s moving and the chocolate rocky island was painstakingly broken piece by piece and glued back together with icing and chocolate.  Can-Con – Canadian flag, plus little Italian banners in an effort to appeal to the esteemed Judge’s nationalistic pride.

The Judge was Lorella’s mother. Judging took place shortly after midnight. Each gingerbread house was ranked from 1 to 5. A trophy was award to the Best Gingerbread House. I’m not telling you who won. But I will say that the decision is being disputed.

So tell me, in your estimation, of the 5, which deserves the title of Best Gingerbread House 2011? Email me at [email protected]!