It doesn’t matter that you haven’t had a chance to polish off the plastic pumpkin bucket full of candy that your kids hauled in on Halloween. Or, depending on when you read this, that your turkey’s not yet stuffed or you’re simply overstuffed. It is time to talk about Christmas. If you turn to page 113, you’ll find all the shopping tips you can possibly handle, as well as tips on everything from how to survive the annual office party to how to build a gingerbread house, and a whole lot of other interesting stuff in between. But before you leave me, here’s a little background on the gingerbread houses.

We wanted to include something from us to you in our holiday issue, but coming up with just the right idea proved difficult. Everyone deemed my idea of sharing our favorite cookie recipes as too boring and unoriginal (ouch), and ideas like the best excuses for getting out of a party just didn’t seem in the spirit of things.

Then Anna Fialho, one of our associate editors, started telling us about gingerbread houses she made last year out of graham crackers. Everyone thought that idea was awesome. But when I suggested that we all actually give it a try and make some together, they looked at me like I was crazy. Of course, I’m used to that by now, so I wasn’t dissuaded.

And so, despite some initial reticence, they humored me and joined in the fun. Even better, it turned out to be one of our best “meetings” ever. (Perhaps an assortment of candy, cookies, and knives is just the combination for a successful meeting.)

As I looked around the room (I was the master scorer, cutter, and eater of the graham crackers), I loved seeing how much fun people were having, what teams formed, who went solo, who the leaders were, and best of all, the “houses” that were created. As you can see above, originality played a key role.

We’ve included directions for a traditional gingerbread house on page 130, but once you get the basics down, feel free to go out on a creative limb and fashion the home of your dreams.

Of course, if you’re not feeling up to being Martha-like this holiday season, don’t feel guilty. Just be sure to take some time off to spend with your family and friends.

Picture of Sheri Burns