“It’s a fun way to entertain because you don’t have to do much entertaining. The entertainment is the children getting to work on the houses. You don’t have to have some big thing planned out. It’s a great way to entertain,” Allison Gruehn said.
Gruehn learned the tradition from her friend, Spain Gregory, who grew up near Sydney Smith in Marietta. Smith, was the late wife of Bill Smith Sr. Gregory invited several children including Gruehn’s to make candy houses when they were in preschool together.
“Spain shared that (Sydney) made candy houses during the holidays with her own children, and as they got older they shared it with neighbors,” she said.
The candy houses are created with pre-made rectangular pound cakes, icing and candies such as gumdrops, lifesavers, M&Ms, peppermints, tootsie rolls and any other sugary confections the heart desires. The pound cakes are iced by the children and then trimmed with candies of their choice. Gruehn holds back some of the icing and adds green food coloring to it so the children can make shrubbery or Christmas trees by using inverted sugar cones.
“I let the children (make the houses) themselves. If they need assistance their mothers can step in and help but they’re pretty much able to do it on their on,” said Gruehn, who is married to Chris.
Gruehn even gives the children the option of making a two-story house by putting half a pound cake on top of another half. “Some children like that (two-story) option. I think it allows them creativity on what a house looks like,” said the mother of Cate and Allen.
“I think the kids enjoy (making candy houses) because it’s something they get to do on their own, and no one is telling them that there’s a right or wrong way to do it. It’s definitely up to their own creativity and their own individual vision,” she said.
“The children also like it because they can sneak some candies along the way as they’re decorating,” Gruehn added laughing.
“It’s just a fun way to get a variety of friends together on Sunday afternoon at Christmastime,” Gruehn said.
The Candy House
Cut a cardboard base, at least 12 x 18, from any heavy box. Cover with foil.
Buy a pre-cooked, rectangular pound cake. Slice off a thin section from each end for a smooth finish. Shape roof by cutting a pitched gable lengthwise across the cake.
The icing can be your favorite recipe or canned. If you are making it, make it stiff.
Place the cake on the base. Ice and decorate as you wish using the following candies/
Sugar cones (ice with green icing to create a “tree”)