Skip to main content

This is what an award-winning gingerbread house looks like

Need some gingerbread house decorating ideas? These are expert level

Awards Ceremony NGHC 2023- 279
Omni Grove Park Inn

When you think of gingerbread houses – depending on which camp you’re in – you either imagine making magical memories, Nat King Cole crooning in the background. In contrast, well-behaved and tidy little ones carefully adorn their perfectly crafted gingerbread houses with sparkling gumdrops and sweet little giggles. Or, you’re a parent in the real world, and the thought of making gingerbread houses every year fills you with agony. You know that the Hallmark movie version of gingerbread house making and decorating is a lie. In reality, the holly jolly process is a frustratingly sticky, nerve-wrenchingly tricky, and candy-crumbling nightmare, resulting in a house that looks far less like the cover of the magazine and more like it was made by a team of blind, drunken elves. Either way, gingerbread houses are one of the most festive traditions of the season, and (when done by those who actually know what they’re doing) can be beyond impressive and absolutely beautiful.

On November 21st, The Omni Grove Park Inn of Asheville, North Carolina, hosted its highly anticipated Annual National Gingerbread House Competition. Enjoying its 31st year, the competition is a favorite of many holiday bakers, giving them not only a chance to showcase their talents but also take home some of the competition’s over $40,000 in cash and prizes.

Bakers, each with their own unique gingerbread house ideas, competed in groupings according to age, with five categories, including Adult, Teen (ages 13 – 17), Youth (ages 9 – 12), Child (ages 5 – 8), and People’s Choice: Best in Show Award. Each and every gingerbread house was required to be 100% edible and made of at least 75% gingerbread. Judges – including famed celebrity cake artist Yolanda Gampp – also looked closely at the overall appearance, originality, creativity, difficulty, precision, and consistency of the theme.

The winners featured below have absolutely blown us away with their talents and perhaps even given us some new gingerbread house decorating ideas to chew on this year. Or maybe we just leave it to these guys while we kick back with Home Alone.

Grand Prize Winner, Difficult Dessert Devotees
Omni Grove Park Inn

Grand Prize Winner, Adult

“Christmas at the Tongkonan”

Contestant(s): Difficult Dessert Devotees – Fuquay Varina, NC

Adult Second Place, Pat Ashley Howard
Omni Grove Park Inn

Adult Second Place

“Moving Day”

Contestant(s): Pat Ashley Howard – Orlando, FL

Adult Third Place, Bonnie Hardiman
Omni Grove Park Inn

Adult Third Place

“Home Delivery”

Contestant(s): Bonnie Hardiman – Hagerstown, MD

Teen First Place, Courtland High School German Program
Omni Grove Park Inn

Teen First Place

“Vintage Voyage”

Contestant(s): Courtland High School German Program – Spotsylvania, VA

Teen Second Place, Toccoa Titans
Omni Grove Park Inn

Teen Second Place

“Grove’s Miracle Tonic”

Contestant(s): Toccoa Titans – Blue Ridge, GA

Teen Third Place, Emma Rhinehart
Omni Grove Park Inn

Teen Third Place

“An Elegant Christmas”

Contestant(s): Emma Rhinehart – Columbia, TN

Youth First Place_Frost Girls
Omni Grove Park Inn

Youth First Place

“Fun in the Tub”

Contestant(s): Frost Girls – Woodbury, MN

Youth Second Place_Perry Reid
Omni Grove Park Inn

Youth Second Place

“Holiday Smackdown”

Contestant(s): Perry Reid – Travelers Rest, SC

Youth Third Place_The Fiddleheads
Omni Grove Park Inn

Youth Third Place

“Little Blue Truck’s Christmas”

Contestant(s): The Fiddleheads – Clyde, NC

Child First Place, Grace Webster
Omni Grove Park Inn

Child First Place

“The Night of Magical Memories”

Contestant(s): Grace Webster– Greenville, SC

Child Second Place, China Grove Cousins
Omni Grove Park Inn

Child Second Place

“Ready, Set, SNOOOOWWWW!!!!”

Contestant(s): China Grove Cousins – Mooresville, NC

Child Third Place, Paul Frahler
Omni Grove Park Inn

Child Third Place

“Bath Santa Takes Off!”

Contestant(s): Paul Frahler – Greenville, SC

Love at Frost Sight, Rockin at the Diner 2
Omni Grove Park Inn

People’s Choice: Best in Show Award

“Rockin’ at the Diner”

Contestant(s): Love at Frost Sight – Woodbury, MN

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
Is stevia bad for you? Everything you want to know about this popular sweetener
Stevia side effects, benefits, and more
Powered stevia in a bowl

For most people, sugar is the only sweetener they use when making their cup of tea or cup of joe, baking, and cooking. It’s estimated that Americans use an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day. While sugar is naturally available in grains, dairy, vegetables, and fruits, refined sugar has a bittersweet reputation, particularly when it comes to health. Consequently, many people choose to find natural and healthy substitutes for sugar for a range of reasons, including reducing their calorie intake.

Stevia is a sweetener that has come onto the scene over the last few years, especially as low-sugar and ketogenic diets have gained more popularity. Stevia can be used to sweeten your drinks, cereals, and more. Despite this, stevia sometimes gets a bad rap. We found expert advice to help you understand the benefits and risks of this natural sweetener.

Read more
Winter squash — why RDs love it (and their favorite ways to eat it)
Winter squash: Benefits and ways to enjoy it
winter squash flat lay with warm beverage

Summer and spring are often best known for fresh fruits and vegetables. The bounty certainly is delicious during warmer months, with everything from asparagus to peaches coming in season from April through August. However, the seasonal produce aisle doesn't go dark in the winter. Have you ever heard of winter squash? The term refers to several types of squash, including butternut, pumpkin, and acorn.

The name is also a misnomer. In the North, winter squash is harvested in the fall (by October) before frosty nights set in. Still, winter squashes are hearty, can stand up to savory comfort-food classics like mashed potatoes, and are a dietician-favorite food.
"I love winter squash because there are a lot of easy ways to use it, and it goes with a lot of different flavors," said Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD, a registered dietician who developed The Mindful Gut approach. "Plus, you can buy a squash and not worry about it going bad in the fridge at the end of the week. Winter squash can last a while in your kitchen."
Need inspiration? Dieticians shared two types: Health benefits that'll have you running to snag winter squash during your next grocery haul, plus tips for enjoying the seasonal produce.

Read more
Beer 101: What’s the difference between an ale and a lager?
Both are great - but not the same thing

Even if you have only the most basic knowledge of beer, you probably know the simple ingredients that you need to have to brew it (even if you’ll never brew any yourself). They are grain (barley, corn, rice, etc.), yeast, hops, and water. If you enjoy drinking beer and like talking about it with any authority, it’s a good idea to have this kind of base information because beer gets more complicated after this.

There are countless styles and offshoots, including IPAs, stouts, sour ales, barleywines, and everything in between. Including well-known beer styles and their various offshoots, there are currently more than 100 defined types of beer. And while we could spend a dozen (or more) articles explaining all the styles (don’t tempt us), today, we’re most interested in sticking with the basics—specifically, the age-old questions of the differences between lagers and ales.

Read more