Time to show you guys our second big build for the coming Hogwarts slumber party! (If you missed the giant stone fireplace build, you can check that out here.)
The last few years John and I've put up a fake brick entry to our back room, like this:
After two years we wanted a change, though, and wracked our brains for an appropriate entry to the Hufflepuff Common Room.
Eventually I narrowed it down to basic 'Puff priorities: fun and food. Throw Christmas into the mix, and of course you get a life-sized gingerbread house, right?
Here's a teaser to get you to keep scrolling. Muahahaaaa.
The basic structure went up lightning fast: John was done in barely two days. He used cheap 2X4s to build the frame, keeping the whole thing in two pieces for easy installation:
Testing the fit inside:
You can see here how we're narrowing the entry to give ourselves room for the side walls of the gingerbread house. Gotta have that symmetry!
From there John clad the walls and roof in Masonite panels:
(This thing took up most of our garage, so this was as far back as I could get for photos!)
My initial design included two small turrets, but they were such a struggle to work around that we eventually - and very reluctantly - nixed them to make room for these House mascot cookies I drew instead:
John insisted we make these, plus we hoped they would make the entry look more Hogwarts and less Candy Castle.
Carved insulation foam to make snowdrifts on the roof:
I love this insulation foam; it's a breeze to cut and carve - even sand! - and it paints like a dream.
We also added PVC tubes to the entry for giant peppermint sticks. John sliced off a small section of each tube so it would slide right over the archway wall.
Again, all of this happened pretty fast, but once it came to finishing and painting, things ground to a halt.
If you follow my Instagram Story then you might remember my excitement when we discovered a homemade puff paint that looks just like real icing, but pipes out HUGE:
Unfortunately this only hardens to a sponge-like consistency, though, so it's not durable at all. (It cracks when bumped.) With our two rambunctious kitties already chewing on these samples, we knew it would never survive 'til the party in here. Which was GUT-WRENCHING for my cookie plans, let me tell ya.
That puff paint is a blast to play with, though, so I'm determined to use it on something in the future!
We tried half a dozen other concoctions of paint, plaster, caulking, and even spray foam, but alas, nothing could compare to that original puff paint.
So, with time running out and the Gingerbread House already built, we gritted our teeth and decided to keep moving forward.
We projected my drawings onto big sheets of butcher paper so I could trace the cookie designs:
Including my Story photo just for my brilliant hashtag. Whut.
I cut out the paper templates, and taped them to more pink insulation foam:
John then cut them out with a jigsaw, followed by a router to round the edges.
Here we are testing the sizes of our cookies with the house:
Amazing what a difference just getting that roof white makes. We also glittered it for extra shine, though the glitter barely shows up inside. (Harrumph.)
While John was glittering the roof, I was trudging through cookie assembly:
I used white craft foam for the icing lines and scarves, which was fast and relatively easy, except none of my glues wanted to stick and I was still grumpy over none of our icing experiments working out.
I used blue tape to hold everything in place while the glue dried. (Note the lion paw falling off, ha.) It's a good thing these things are so light, because I was ready to throw them all by the end!
Once John got the house inside and we set the cookies up with it, though, I started to have a glimmer of hope that maybe everything wasn't terrible:
Then John knocked it outta the park with the most INCREDIBLE peppermint paint job on those PVC tubes:
If you've never attempted to paint spirals on something like this, let me just tell you: it's impossible. I actually watched John do it with math and angles and some kind of incantation, so yeah: impossible. He used this gorgeous high gloss cherry red paint, and peeling that tape off was MAGIC.
The windows are more insulation foam, carved the same way John did the cookies. On the backside of the frames I taped some bright yellow poster board covered with a sheet of clear cellophane for shine.
The giant gumballs are my favorite part of the whole house; they're dollar store ornaments that John cut in half and spray-painted:
Then we attached them to the walls with plain house caulking. Caulking looks just like icing, so if I could go back in time I'd make my cookies tiny and just "ice" them with caulk, ha.
I bet you're PROBABLY ready to see the finished house by now. You've definitely earned it if you're still reading this far!
It's cute, right? Cute, colorful, and relatively cheap, since we spent less than $100 on all the materials.
The top cookies have little foam spacers against the roof so they sit up straight:
(Why yes, I *did* use book-accurate colors. WHO'S GOT YOUR BACK, RAVENCLAWS?)
And the floor cookies have easel backs, also made of insulation foam.
Obviously I would change some stuff if I could (::shakes fist in puffy paint's direction::), but in the end we have a sweet entryway that I think fits our Slumber Party theme bang-on, since we're going for more of kiddy, sweet-and-silly feel this year.
Oh! And here's a little creative problem-solving for you: there's a very necessary wall switch right behind our gingerbread wall. Solution?
Make a removable gumball! (We use a stick to poke through the hole and turn the light off and on now. It's like a fun game, except when it's dark and you're tired and you've been jabbing that stupid stick in the hole for like 20 seconds trying to find the switch that's a mere 3 inches back and "how am I missing it where IS this thing?!" Then it's less fun.)
Oh hey, I'll even show you how pretty this is on the OPPOSITE side:
John taped a dollar store plastic tablecloth over the exposed 2X4s back here, so at night the whole thing looks like a solid wall. SUPES professional. My man, e'erbody. MY MAN.
I hope this made you smile, peeps, if only at how genuinely ridiculous John and I are. For what it's worth, we know... and we're OK with it.
Also if anyone in the central Florida area would like a cute gingerbread house entryway sometime after the 9th and has a truck big enough to fit this in (the roof lifts off), hit me up. I'd love to see this get a second use somewhere! Maybe ask around at your schools, libraries, churches, etc. If no one wants it, it'll just be getting ripped apart after the new year.
I still have several party projects to show you guys, including how I sewed my own chair slipcovers FROM SCRATCH WHAAAAAT and all the fantabulous puzzles we've built and concocted for our Harry Potter Escape Room (WHAAAAAAT), and of course the final reveal of all our fun decorations! I'm sure we'll do a video walk-through for you guys like we did last year, so rest assured you'll see it all in nauseating detail. :D
Hope you're staying healthy and happy out there, gang. Remember to take time to breath.