The son of the owners was our demonstrator and this guy works magic with a knife, gum drops, and Tootsie Rolls! My cousin's sons wanted to put dogs in the backyard of their house, and he made them three dogs, spots and all, out of two colors of Tootsie Rolls. Seriously, talk about talent! In fact, he made the tree in the backyard of my house out of jelly mint leaves.
(To view the image closer up, just click it and then click it again and it will enlarge in the new window.) To give you a tour, as you can see, flattened caramels were used for the windows, though I think I'm going to bring some of those gridded pretzels next year so I don't have to break pretzels to do panes. My reward for remembering to bring my box and base back from previous parties was the wreath on the door. I added pretzels as timbers for my Tyrolian-look house, though next time maybe I'll bring bigger pretzel logs.
Mints were used for the sidewalk and roof, with M&Ms filling in the gaps on the sidewalk. Since the gingerbread is dehydrated, you shouldn't really cover the whole surface with icing or it will rehydrate and get soggy and crumble, so there's gingerbread showing through on the roof, but that's okay.
And finally, I had to share my snowman. I thought I'd done pretty well with him, but my friend, coworker, and fellow Chicagoland native Cathy mentioned that he looked a bit like "Son of Svengoolie" circa 1980s 1990s from Chicago TV (and Milwaukee and South Bend, IN, according to wikipedia). And she's right. He does. It's the top hat and the quarter-M&M eyes. Next year, I'll remember the marshmallows.
I had the house at the office for a few days. The main prankster involved with last year's Santa Spud foolishness was eyeing it, so I got a little nervous and brought it home. As I took these pictures, he actually commented that he'd been brainstorming such a prank, so I think I rescued it just in time.
So there it is, a few hours spent being creative Thanksgiving weekend. My cousin and her friends are a lot of fun, so it's a good time even if your house collapses (which seldom happens, from what I hear). And I have the first of my Christmas decorations on display!