The idea for this gingerbread house originated in the sale aisle. Mice were on sale. Not rodents, but soft, flocked, chubby little toy mice. Entire mouse families! The anthropomorphized cuties that wear trousers, ride bikes, and throw snowballs in children’s books. So I broke a cardinal rule of gingerbreading yet again and added non-edible items to my house.
Truly, I am particular about putting anything at all on a gingerbread house that can’t be safely eaten. It is a giant cookie. It is encrusted with icing and candy. It does smell heavenly!
People will eat from a gingerbread house; I guarantee it.
Even if it’s wrapped.
Even if it’s forbidden.
Especially if it’s displayed in an accessible place.
If you have a dog — do not put anything he can’t digest on a gingerbread house. Especially these charming plastic mice. Dogs love the smell of gingerbread and will eat it all, cellophane wrapping and ribbon too.
If however, you can be absolutely certain that no children under the age of three or canine companions will have access to your gingerbread, the mice are fine.
One year, I found gummy rats and stationed them by Santa’s sleigh (see below), but they’re not cute.
The candy canes on this house remain wrapped in plastic. Why? The humid air in our city dissolves candy canes into dripping, running rivers of sticky goo. Ghostbusters quality peppermint slime!
An alternative is to use Bob’s candy canes. They’re the softer and filled with air pockets. Bob’s peppermint sticks are sold in small white boxes or bags (Walmart and Dollar Tree). In the photo below, wrapped candy canes form the sled’s runners and Bob’s unwrapped canes its cargo.
If you are adding toys, wait until the icing snow is dry. Attach the mouse with small dots of royal icing on the bottoms of his feet. In January, lift him off and gently remove the dried icing bits from his flocking. You can pack him up in the Christmas boxes and have a Mouse House again next year!
If you give a gingerbread house away, lead the new owners on a tour of decor that’s not edible.
“Yes, of course you can eat it! But the mice are toys. The chocolate Santa, chocolate sports balls, and candy canes all have wrappers that need to be removed.”
See the football and peppermint patties riding on Santa’s Sleigh? The foil is not edible. If you’re entering the gingerbread house in a competition, read the rules carefully; many competitions don’t accept foil wrapped chocolates.
I haven’t had problems with children eating the foil. By the time they can reach up and sneak a chocolate Santa, they know about peeling the foil. Prying the chocolate out of royal icing usually tears the wrapper and starts the peeling process.
Still, take care to warn people about any foil wrapped candies.
One more warning in the interest of full disclosure. The silver and pastel metallic dragees that we’ve all been eating since childhood? Strictly speaking, they’re not officially edible. It’s long story that started when a lawyer in California filed suit about the silver, tooth-cracking balls on his Christmas cookies. Here’s a news article explaining.
I’m comfortable using dragees.
Before I sign off, I must share my the work of my favorite mouse author and artist, Maggie Rudy. Ms. Rudy sews felt mice and creates miniature scenes in which the mice live, work, and play.
Her blog www.MousesHouses.blogspot.com will captivate you. Her two children’s books should arrive in my mailbox soon. Here’s Thanksgiving Dinner with the Mice. The turkey in the photo is really a walnut half.
Thanks for joining me,