With peppermint-bejeweled rooflines and white icing snowdrifts, gingerbread houses are all about imagination and the stuff of big dreams for little people. Here are a few place to go if you’d like to make the sugary structures without any of the cleanup. We’ve also included an inspiring one made by pros for you to feast your eyes upon.

GingerbreadHouse_FilAl_CC_8303042504_11efe1fc0e_k photo:  Fil.Al via flickr

Gingerbread Jamboree
Families come to this festive event, held by Junior League of Portland at OMSI, to decorate gingerbread houses and meet Santa. All the icing, candy and decorations are provided and laid out, ready for your family’s imagination to take flight. There will be hot beverages and a visit from old Saint Nick, along with a professional photographer to take photos with your children.

Dec. 6
10 a.m.-1 p.m.
$35/family; $20/individual

1945 SE Water Ave.
800-955-6674
Online: omsi.edu

GingerbreadDecoratingMerryKitchen2photo: The Merry Kitchen

The Merry Kitchen
Let your kids go wild decorating their own gingerbread houses not in your own kitchen (read: no clean up!). Julie Merry holds these and other small cooking classes in her cute and colorful house, making the experience feel super cozy and homey.

Nov. 29, ages 3-8, 10:30 a.m.-noon
Nov. 30, ages 5-10, 10:30 a.m.-noon
Dec. 6, ages 3-8, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Dec. 7, ages 4-9, 10:30 a.m.-noon; ages 6-11, 3-4:30 p.m.
$25/person

5202 NE 72nd Ave.
503-946-8357
Online: themerrykitchen.com

Holiday Fun Fest  
Your little decorators can construct a graham cracker masterpiece with wild abandon – and none of the clean-up for you – with plenty of goodies glued across every available surface. Enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies while the creative juices flow, followed by a visit from Santa himself who’ll be checking out the craftily constructed confections.

Dec. 17
4 p.m.-6 p.m.
$5/house built

Wilsonville Community Center
7965 SW Wilsonville Rd.
503-682-3727
Online: wilsonvilleparksandrec.com

GingerbreadCity2PortlandBensonHotelphoto: Benson Hotel

Benson Hotel’s Annual Gingerbread Unveiling
For 43 years, the Benson Hotel in downtown Portland has been delighting Christmas visitors with extravagant gingerbread displays in its main lobby. Chef Dave Diffendorfer, who has crafted these masterpieces the past 20 years, will use over 150 pounds of gingerbread, 15 pounds of white and dark chocolate, 35 pounds of marzipan, bucketsful of royal icing, and untold amounts of melted Jolly Ranchers on this year’s creation. Watch your little sweetie’s eyes light up at the big unveiling, where holiday music, cookies and cider add to the festivities. This free, annual event is a definite kid-pleaser!

Dec. 3
4-5:30 p.m.; unveiling at 4:30 p.m.
Suggested donation of unwrapped toys for the Portland Fire & Rescue Toy & Joy Makers

309 SW Broadway
503-228-2000
Online: bensonhotel.com

Where is your favorite place to build or see gingerbread houses?

–Halle Smith