Thursday, November 24, 2016

Savannah Gingerbread House Festival

Gingerbread Houses - Savannah Festival
One of the sweetest things about the holiday season are the delightful (and delicious) Gingerbread Houses on display in numerous places around the world.  Often large hotels, such as the Hyatt Regency and the Westin feature gingerbread house displays in their lobbies from Thanksgiving through New Year's and thousands of visitors come to see them.

Our family went to see our local Gingerbread Village a couple years ago, held at the Westin Hotel. Known as the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort, it is located on Hutchinson Island in the middle of the Savannah River directly across from Savannah, Georgia's famous River Street.

Holiday Houses in Gingerbread

Gingerbread House Railroad Station
The Savannah Gingerbread House Festival has been an annual event in Savannah, Georgia for 16 years.  The gingerbread houses on display at the festival are culinary creations which are part of a competition open to everyone in two divisions (adult ages18 & over, and students, 17 & under).  

Each creation is judged and voted upon the day before the festival opens to the public and prizes awarded. 

Our Savannah Gingerbread Village is sponsored by The Savannah Harbor Foundation, a nonprofit that helps local and regional children's charities.

Savannah Harbor Foundation

The Foundation first began as a response to the tragedy of 9/11 when the General Manager of Westin Savannah Harbor, Mark Spadoni, felt the need to bring some feel-good, family-friendly, uplifting events to the city in the tragedy’s aftermath. Mark and other area business people joined forces to form the Savannah Harbor Foundation which hosts a variety of holiday festivities and other family-oriented events throughout the year.

Some of the Gingerbread Creations Seen on Our Tour...


Old Lady in a Shoe


Gingerbread Golf Cart

Replica of Savannah's Famous 'Olde Pink House' Restaurant
Southern cuisine served in an elegant Colonial mansion

Westin Savannah Harbor Hotel in Gingerbread

One of the largest and most elaborate Gingerbread Houses on display was over 4 feet tall and was a replica of the Westin Savannah Harbor Hotel.

The Rest of the Festival


"Parade of Boats' on the Savannah River
We spent about an hour touring the Gingerbread Village, then went outside on the lawn of the Westin Hotel which faces the Savannah River and from there watched the rest of the evening's activities, the beautifully decorated 'Parade of Boats', which was followed by a fireworks display.  A fun family evening.

Make Your Own Gingerbread House

If you want to make your own Gingerbread House, recipes are available in a number of places online.  Check out a list of various sites here

Gingerbread House Kits

Mini-Village Gingerbread House Kit
If 'starting from scratch' is too time-consuming for you, Gingerbread House kits are available. This kit includes enough gingerbread to make 5 mini houses, including all the candy icing.  Ready to construct and eat. 

Kits come in a large selection of themes from a fancy gingerbread manor house to Christmas houses to ones depicting popular cartoon figures such as the Minions, Peanuts or Spongebob. Whatever your interest, a Gingerbread House kit can be found.

So, grab a kit,  or start with a recipe, and create a Gingerbread House this holiday season!

In what city have YOU seen this sweet Christmas festival of candy-covered creations?

Gingerbread House Day is December 12

(c) Originally published 12/3/2013. Updated 12/11/2018

*All images are personal photographs taken by Wednesday Elf at the Savannah Gingerbread House Festival

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thanksgiving ~ Our Memories Through the Years of this Sharing Holiday

(c) Personal Photo
Our Thanksgiving Tradition - Sharing with Friends

Our Thanksgiving Tradition began quite accidentally in 1962.  First Thanksgiving together, first year of marriage, new baby, new job in a new State far from family, and Bob, a radio broadcaster, had to work on Thanksgiving Day.  As it turned out, Bob's co-worker was also new to the State and had no family nearby, so Bob brought him home for dinner with us.

This began a 40-year tradition of 'sharing' our Thanksgiving Dinner with someone who would otherwise be alone and probably not even have a traditional holiday dinner. We fed a turkey dinner to a lot of grateful bachelors over the years and it always felt like the perfect way to celebrate this "sharing" holiday.

Pilgrim Greeters

Our church in Lincoln, Nebraska had a tradition for the Thanksgiving Service of having a family with a pair of children be 'greeters' for the congregation. Someone in the church had made pilgrim costumes for the greeters to wear. In 1969 our children (
Chris & Kim, brother and sister, ages 7 & 4) were chosen - not just because they were so cute (well, they were!), but because they were the right SIZE for the only pair of costumes available. Chris & Kim had a marvelous time "dressing up" and greeting everyone at the door to the church.

What Can I Bring?


Friend Eric, daughter Kim, & son-in-law Paul at Thanksgiving Dinner

 Dinner guests often ask "What can I bring?"  For several years, while living in Georgia, we invited a young bachelor friend of our daughter and son-in-law to Thanksgiving Dinner. Eric was a broadcaster with a Public Radio Station and had to work on holidays, so he came to dinner after work. Eric always wanted to "bring a dish", so we left 'dessert' up to him. The first two years, Eric brought TWO kinds of pies, a third different dessert, like a cheesecake, AND a bag of Peanut M&M's.

These extra desserts Eric brought worked out well when our shared table included our daughter and her husband from St. Louis and another year when we also had my brother & his family, making Thanksgiving a bountiful 'family & friend-filled holiday.

One Thanksgiving Eric was the only dinner guest, thus there was only 3 of us eating an entire Thanksgiving Dinner. Therefore, I admonished Eric to bring only ONE dessert -- there was only SO MUCH that we could eat!

Away for Thanksgiving 

This Thanksgiving day it was my son carving the turkey. 

From being the home my family came to for holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving 2010 the 'tables' were reversed and I spent Thanksgiving at the home of my youngest son in Kansas City, Kansas.

Grandsons Nick & Jake

Thanksgiving with my Grandsons!
My Grandsons made the Thanksgiving weekend at my son's house even more special as Thanksgiving is:

~a family time,

              ~a sharing time, 

                                   ~a loving time!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Austins!

Related article: Thanksgiving Themes

(c) Wednesday Elf  article originally published 11/3/2009.   Updated 11/20/2017