The House that Kids Built

Posted online: November 2011

by SARAH YOUNG photographs by ELIZABETH MESSINA

The holiday spirit comes alive one sweet treat at a time.

Annabelle Murray, Margot Josefsohn, and Madeline Murray show off their work of art.

Annabelle Murray, Margot Josefsohn, and Madeline Murray show off their work of art.

Frosting-covered fingers dove into bowls of gumdrops, and little faces were laced with cookie crumbs at Santa Ynez Valley residents Pierre and Marguerite Josefsohn’s first annual gingerbread house-making party. This kid-friendly event was inspired by a holiday trip the Josefsohns and their children took to the Solvang Bakery’s own Gingerbread Decorating Workshop. “It was such a memorable day,” said Marguerite, “we decided to make it a Christmas tradition of our own.”

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The children gather around the decoration station and nibble on cookies.

Nine children—who arrived at the Josefsohns’ home with smiles and sweet cravings—were greeted by mouth-watering comfort food prepared and served by award-winning chef and owner of the Ballard Inn, Budi Kazali. The kids nibbled on lunchtime favorites such as mac-n-cheese and sipped warming hot apple cider and hot chocolate before the main activity—adorning gingerbread houses. At the center of the decorating station stood a Christmas tree covered with cookie ornaments, and draped over each chair were personalized aprons. The kids scurried to their spots, indicated by individualized house-making kits—fit with a handmade assembled house, frosting, cookie doors, windows, shutters and doormats, sugar trees, and a personalized cookie provided by Melissa Redell, co-owner of the Solvang Bakery.

 Hosts Pierre and Marguerite Josefsohn.

Hosts Pierre and Marguerite Josefsohn.

Redell and her mother, Susan Halme, have owned the bakery since 1981 and have been creating gingerbread houses for the past 30 years. Halme sketches and designs the houses and is always coming up with new details and ideas to make them even cuter. While at this event, watching the kids decorate was the most fulfilling aspect. “Seeing the original ideas that some of the kids had—and the joy in their eyes while they decorated their very own edible creation—was my favorite part,” said Redell.

As the construction progressed, so did the spirit of the season. The house exuded cheer with red, green, and gold glittering decorations that have been collected during the years. Los Angeles florist and friend Consuelo Aceves spent days transforming the home into Santa’s workshop. Complete with holiday tunes jingling in the background, the children frosted their houses, lingered at the candy station, and tasted a little of each treat—more than 25 sweets such as red licorice, colorful Skittles, and Necco wafers for embellishing their creations. “The children seemed to eat more of the gumdrops then they used for decorating,” said Marguerite.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Tiago Wiesenthal bites into his cookie with ease; a basket full of  colorful candy decorations; Greer Biddlecomb is all smiles at this sugary soiree; Remi Josefsohn gets ready to frost his masterpiece; a house made with love; giggles flow from Luca  Wiesenthal as he delights in his personalized treat.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Tiago Wiesenthal bites into his cookie with ease; a basket full of colorful candy decorations; Greer Biddlecomb is all smiles at this sugary soiree; Remi Josefsohn gets ready to frost his masterpiece; a house made with love; giggles flow from Luca Wiesenthal as he delights in his personalized treat.

After the houses were complete, Redell person-alized each one with an edible nameplate and wrapped it up with a bow. By the end of the after-noon, the wee ones’ tummies were satiated. Needless to say, they were satisfied and “a new tradition was born in the Josefsohn house,” said Marguerite.ginger box

 Little Leighton Hale has her eye  set on a shiny ornament hanging from the bounteous Christmas tree.

Little Leighton Hale has her eye set on a shiny ornament hanging from the bounteous Christmas tree.

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One Comment


  1. Elle Read

    Just had to say what a neat article this is!

    Elle
    Los Osos

    January 21st, 2012 at 10:18 am (Reply)

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