Califonia Bountiful

A gingerbread state of mind

Nov./Dec. 2012 California Bountiful magazine

In Half Moon Bay, entries in the Ritz-Carlton's decorating contest are on display the week after Thanksgiving.

California is home to some of the nation's most competitive and intricate gingerbread displays and contests. Here are a few examples for you to visit and even gain hands-on experience building gingerbread houses (or doghouses, as the case may be) of your own. Share your favorite gingerbread creation with us at or on our Facebook wall:

Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Visit the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1 to see gingerbread creations made by professional chefs, home cooks and even children. No tickets are required to view the display, and families are also invited to attend a tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 1 when the contest winners will be announced and the houses entered into a silent auction. All proceeds from the competition and auction will be donated to the Coastside Children's Programs, a local nonprofit childcare agency.

Discovery Science Center, Santa Ana
The "Science of Gingerbread" exhibit at the Discovery Science Center in Orange County is filled with festive activities designed to bring families together during the holiday season. The museum hosts an award-winning gingerbread competition as well as a cookie decorating space for children. The exhibit runs Nov. 23 through Jan. 6, and tickets are required.

Gingerbread houses created each year by local residents fill the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum, built to resemble a one-room schoolhouse constructed in Yolo County in 1884.

Iconic scenes of San Francisco provide inspiration for some of the creations displayed at the Palace Hotel.

Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum, Sacramento

2012 marks the 25th year of the museum's annual gingerbread house-decorating contest, open to people of all ages and skill levels. Entries will be accepted at the museum in Old Sacramento on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and will be on display through Dec. 22. After that, they'll be given to local children's homes and hospitals. There is no admission fee, and visitors are encouraged to cast their votes for the people's choice award. The Schoolhouse Museum is run by volunteers and is generally open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, call 916-483-8818.

Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Since 2006, the Palace Hotel has invited representatives from community organizations to participate in an annual gingerbread decorating competition. Proceeds from the event benefit regional charities, including Meals on Wheels, and elaborate creations have included the Taj Mahal, San Francisco City Hall and the city's famous Painted Ladies. This year's competition will be held in the hotel lobby from Nov. 23 through Dec. 31. No tickets are needed, but donations are welcomed during the voting process. Gingerbread decorating classes are available Dec. 1, 8 and 15 for a fee. For more information, contact the hotel at 415-512-1111.

Children are invited to decorate Snoopy's doghouse at the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
Charlie Brown and the gang have helped Americans celebrate the holidays for decades. On Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16, children grades six and younger are invited to assemble and decorate Snoopy's doghouse out of gingerbread, complete with a marshmallow Snoopy on top. All classes require pre-registration and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations can be made by calling 707-284-1263.

Tasting the tradition

A California Bountiful reader shared this holiday recipe with us, suggesting it is equally delicious served warm with butter or cool with whipped cream.

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