‘Tis the season to entertain, cook, and wow *all* your guests. Follow our RSVP series through November and December for tips, tricks, and inspiration. Happy holiday party season, all!

Sugar candies, extra frosting, and gumdrops galore! Gingerbread houses have always been a holiday staple, but if you ask me, bringing friends and family together to craft these sugary masterpieces makes them that much sweeter! So if you’re looking for a fun, last-minute activity to incorporate into your festivities, or entertain the kids on Christmas day, decorating gingerbread houses will have everyone believing in the magic of the holidays *and* feeling merry and bright!

1. Invitations: Create an invite to send to your guests, whether it’s a paper invitation via mail or an e-invite online. The holidays are always a crazy time for everyone, so the sooner you get the invitations out, the more likely people will be able to attend.

2. Party Prep: Before guests arrive, set out individual (or couples) gingerbread houses for everyone attending. You can make them from scratch, use a kit, or simply build them out of graham crackers. However you choose to do it, having the gingerbread houses pre-made for your guests will make the evening run smoother and allow more time for decorating. If this is too time-consuming, ask guests to bring their own pre-assembled house.

3. A Sturdy Base: Having a piece of cardboard or a baking sheet that each gingerbread house will be decorated on is key. It makes it easy to be moved once decorated and it gives more space to decorate, add a yard, or whatever! To keep it clean, give each guest an assigned workspace and cover it with brown kraft paper or a disposable plastic tablecloth. You could even create a festive tablecloth or table runner using wrapping paper.

4. Candy, Candy, Candy: Wow your guests with an over-the-top decorating station overflowing with an assortment of decorating supplies. Display them in festive bowls or on platters so everyone can see their options. We love shredded coconut (snow), mini marshmallows, powder sugar, pretzels, candy canes, licorice, gumdrops, cereal, chocolate, wafers, sprinkles, and peppermints, to name a few.

5. Extra Frosting: Although most gingerbread house kits come with frosting, I always make extra frosting before the party so it’s ready to go. You can never have too much of a good thing!

Bonus Tip: If you’re making it a Gingerbread Contest, be sure to have clear rules and expectations. This year we had prizes for the overall best, the most creative, and the best use of a prop (we allowed guests to bring ONE prop to use for their house). The most clever props were dry ice used for chimney smoke and twinkle lights.

For more entertaining advice and home decor inspiration, head to my blog Pink Peonies or check out the latest on Instagram @RachParcell.

(Photos via Rachel Parcell; Featured photo via Brit + Co)