Winter at Galesburg Public Library brings cozy books, all the holiday DVDs you can carry, and the Children’s Department’s annual gingerbread house decorating extravaganza. Each December, the upstairs meeting room is transformed into a sugary studio where families gather to create works of gingerbread art.
The library’s gingerbread house tradition traces its roots back to former Children’s Department Supervisor Karen Marple, who hosted the program for the first time in the late 1990s. Since then, gingerbread house decorating has happened every year with the exception of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced a brief hiatus.
The library’s “gingerbread houses” aren’t actually made of gingerbread at all! We construct our houses out of graham crackers and homemade royal icing. Each year, a group of library staff and volunteers spend the better part of a day building up to 100 houses to be decorated by our patrons.
Once the houses are constructed, it’s time to set up the candy! You wouldn’t believe the shopping trips our Children’s Librarians take in the weeks leading up to our gingerbread house extravaganza. We fill shopping carts with fun holiday candy and then try our hardest to resist the temptation to eat it all, instead setting it up buffet-style to be used for decorating.
When gingerbread decorating day arrives, families fill up the library’s meeting room, ready to create their own sweet masterpieces. On average, around 250 people participate in gingerbread decorating at the library each year. Many families make it an annual tradition!
Want to be a part of the magic? This year’s gingerbread house extravaganza takes place on Tuesday, December 6th, with participants asked to sign up for a one-hour time slot between 2:00 and 7:00 PM. Registration for this year’s gingerbread house extravaganza is currently open in the Children’s Department. For more information or to sign up, please call 309-343-6118 x7.