Gumdrops on the roof, edible front doors, icing windows — the possibilities are endless, and pretty easy to do. A quick trip to the grocery store, some imagination, and you’ve got a gingerbread house. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you want to do it alone, or with your family, co-workers, or other type of group, anyone and everyone is invited to enter the Chaffee Art Center’s annual Holiday Gingerbread Contest.

The annual event has seen all kinds of gingerbread houses in the past, from traditional to gingerbread farms, gingerbread downtown Rutland buildings, and churches, schools, and ski lodges.

The contest is open to all ages. Businesses, clubs, schools and groups are encouraged to participate, and the rules are simple — all material must be edible, kits are allowed, creations must be on a sturdy platform. All entries will be displayed in a gingerbread village at the Chaffee’s Gingerbread Showcase reception and Tree Lighting, December 7 from Noon to 3 p.m., which is still a month away so you have a good head start.

This year’s theme is “Season of Giving.” First, second, and third place winners will be decided by a panel of judges for cash prizes of up to 250 dollars, and the winners will be announced at the December 7 reception. Judging criteria is based on overall appearance, originality, imagination and creativity, difficulty, precision, and consistency of theme. Visitors can also vote for their favorite entry until January 3 for “People’s Choice” awards, which will be given in categories like Professional Bakers, Employees participating together, Family, School and Group, Adult, Teen, Youth, and Children under 6.

It’s totally fine to use a gingerbread kit, and designs can be 2D or 3D. The major components must be made of gingerbread but the internal structure for larger houses does not have to be edible as long as it’s not visible. All entries must be delivered to the Chaffee Art Center on either December 4 or 5 between Noon and 5 p.m.

In anticipation of the event, and to mark the upcoming holiday season, The Chaffee’s Annual Holiday Exhibit “Season of Giving” opens with a free reception, this Friday, November 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. The all-member show displays work by the talented artists in our local communities, on display in the mansion until January 3.

In the meantime here are some ideas to get you started:

How to make a gingerbread house by Taste of Home:

Pre-registration is not necessary, but appreciated, and those who do so by November 22 will be eligible for a chance to win a holiday gift basket. For entry forms and more information, please visit, call 802-775-0356 or stop in at 16 South Main Street in Rutland, Wednesday through Friday Noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Royal icing is strongly recommended.Please remember when choosing edible materials that houses will be on display at room temperature for weeks.

Royal icing recipe

Makes about 2-1/2 cups

Mix Together:

1 lb. powdered sugar

3 tbsp. meringue powder

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar


3-1/2 oz. of water (slightly less than 1/2 cup)

Beat until icing forms stiff peaks & will hold a sharp line when knife is drawn through. Keep covered with a damp cloth to keep icing from drying out. Work with a small amount of icing at a time. Store unused icing in a tightly closed container.

*Note: Meringue powder can be found at cake decorating or craft stores. Do not use icing recipes containing egg, butter or milk.

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