Holiday Time

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Log on to Cyber Monday Deals (December 2019)

Southern Hospitality Traveler's Favorite Things About October (October 2019)

Honor the Red, White and Blue in the South with Independence Day Celebrations (July 2019)

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Celebrating Mardi Gras 2019 (February 2019)

Pickle, Pelican or Peach: The Many Unique Ways the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2018)

Get Into the Holiday Spirit with the 29th Annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest (November 2018)

17 Celebrations Honoring the Red, White and Blue (June 2018)

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"Throw me Somethin' Mister!" Celebrating Mardi Gras 2018 (January 2018)

Beach Ball, Fleur-De-Lis, MoonPie: Unique New Year's Eve Drops in the South (December 2017)

25 Festive Events to Keep that Holiday Feeling Through the New Year (December 2017)

Awe-Inspiring Gingerbread Displays at Various Hotels and Resorts Around the South (December 2017)

Fun and Fireworks: 14 Events Celebrating Independence Day (June 2017)

Celebrate 2017 Mardi Gras in the South (February 2017)

Three Festive Ways to Avoid Going Stir Crazy Before the Holidays (December 2016)

30 Ways to Get Your "Jingle" On in the South (December 2016)

Five Ways to Experience the Holidays "Louisiana-Style" (December 2016)

"Brighten Up" Your Holidays with These Holiday Light Displays (November 2016)

Red, White, Blue and You: Fourth of July Celebrations in the South (July 2016)

Drops, Celebrations and More: Memorable Ways to Welcome in 2016 (December 2015)

Spark Your Holiday Spirit with the Many Events Happening Around the South (December 2015)

Six Places to Celebrate the Holiday Season (December 2015)

So Many Ways to Kick Off the Holiday Season in the South (November 2015)

14 Dazzling Holiday Light Displays Throughout the South to Enjoy Now (November 2015)

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New Twist on an Old Favorite: Amping Up the Grilled Cheese (April 2015)

Celebrate National Soup Month Anytime with Recipes from Benchmark Resorts & Hotels (January 2015)

Move Over Ball Drop - This is How the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2014)

Ways to Get Your Holiday On in the South (December 2014)

Liven Up Your Thanksgiving Meal with Some Myrtle Beach, S.C.-Style Comfort Foods (November 2014)

Warm Up the Days and the Nights with These Chili Recipes (October 2014)

Creating the Perfect Cheeseburger with Crawford Ker on National Cheeseburger Day (September 2014)

Celebrate National Martini Day with these Recipes (June 2014)

It's Great to be King...Celebrating Mardi Season with King Cake Creations (February 2014)

Celebrate Your Valentine with a Getaway (February 2014)

A MoonPie, Pickle, Red Stick and More...Welcoming in the New Year in the South (December 2013)

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2013 Holiday Gift Guide...Packages and Escapes (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Books (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Food and Beverage (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Made in the South (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Experiences in the South (December 2013)

End Your Holiday Meal on a Sweet Note courtesy of Chef Sara Thomas (November 2013)

From Their Table to Yours: Holiday Recipes from The Carolina Inn (November 2013)

Firing Up the Grill: Tips and Recipes for a Successful and Tasty Grilling Season (May 2013)

Breakfast for Mom, Southern-Style (May 2013)

Mom-Worthy Hotels in the South (May 2013)

Talkin' Mardi Gras, Shreveport, La. Style (February 2013)

Southern Style: 13 Things You Must Do in 2013 (January 2013)

Holiday Joy: Tips for Creating the Perfect Gingerbread House (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Secret is in the Sauce at Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Make It Memorable and Give the Gift of an Experience (December 2012)

8 Reasons to Visit Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights this Season (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Chef's Table at Emeril's Delmonico (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Simply Ballastone Cookbook (November 2012)

Treat Your Mom to One of These Eight Southern Destinations (May 2012)

Seeing Various Shades of Green: St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in the South (March 2012)

It’s Mardi Gras Time in the South (February 2012)

Celebrate Elvis Presley’s Birthday in the South (January 2012)

A MoonPie, a Pickle, a Horseshoe and More: Ringing in the New Year Southern-Style (December 2011)

Celebrate the Holidays New Orleans-Style with a Reveillon Dinner (December 2011)

"Treat" Yourself this Holiday Season with (November 2011)

Holiday Fun in the South After Thanksgiving (November 2011)

Holiday Fun at Gaylord Opryland (November 2011)

Tours and Treats Along Virginia’s Inn to Inn Cookie Trail and Tour (November 2011)

Celebrating Milestones in the South (August 2010)

5 Activities that Add a "Sizzle" to Your Summer Vacation (June 2010)

Forget Gifts, Give Experiences This Mother’s Day (April 2010)

Celebrating Mardi Gras 2010 (February 2010)

Published: December 2012
Holiday Joy: Tips for Creating the Perfect Gingerbread House  

Don’t worry if you haven’t made a gingerbread house yet, there’s still enough time to participate in this holiday tradition; and according to Sara Beth Thomas, executive pastry chef at Carolina Crossroads Restaurants in The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C., your gingerbread house could be a local landmark, a current event (or upcoming...think New Year’s Eve), or a place that’s celebrating a big anniversary.

With a theme in mind, your next step is ensuring that your creation doesn’t collapse after you place the final piece of decor on the roof. Make a gingerbread house that’ll be memorable (in a good way) by following advice from professionals.


To begin, Thomas advises to make sure you have all the tools you need ready, so that you are not looking for the ruler when you need it.

“Gingerbread houses are like building a regular house; all your measurements need to be consistent and precise.”

Ashley Nakano, executive pastry chef, at Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga., says don’t forget to use a solid base. Nakano recommends either plywood covered in foil or a study baking pan. This is important because if you move it, you want the house to be strongly supported.


Thomas adds that it’s important to have a solid gingerbread recipe (see her’s below.)

“It’s not like a gingerbread you’d eat during the holidays. The recipe is a little more dense so it can stand up.”

Icing is key as it needs to be right, she says. (Below, she provides a recipe for the icing.”

“This could take a little trial and error. The trick is to make sure it is not too firm because it will be too hard to pipe. But if it is too loose it will not stand up and make a mess.”

Nakano recommends taking your time piping the icing “glue” onto the pieces and assembling them. Be sure hold them in place until the icing is partially set.

“If you break a piece, it can be fixed.  You can make a ‘splint’ out of a small piece of cardboard and use it to support the pieces you have ‘glued’ with icing.  Once it has completely hardened, cover it with icing and no one will ever know.”


The most important part is (especially to the decorator) is the candy, says Nakano. “Always buy a lot more then you need to decorate the house to anticipate consumption. Smaller candies work best, just try to find a large variety.”

“Also, look for the classics like gum drops and peppermints, as well as some you don’t see often like red and green Nerds and Twizzler Rope.”

As for Thomas’ most important tip to follow, “ Let your imagination run wild and have fun!”

Gingerbread House Dough and Icing

provided by Chef Sara Beth Thomas

Yield: 1 14in. X 12in. house with roof

1 ½ cups  shortening

1 ½ cups  sugar

3 each      eggs

1 cups    molasses

6 ¾ cups AP Flour

1 ½ T     ginger

1 ½tsp   cinnamon

1 ½tsp  baking soda

1 ½tsp  salt


  1. In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and sugar

  2. Add the eggs slowly

  3. Add the molasses

  4. Then add all the dry ingredients

  5. Chill the dough for about 1 hour

  6. Roll out the dough to your desired pieces

  7. Bake @ 300’F for about 15 to 20 minutes

Royal Icing:

12oz  egg whites

4#      powdered sugar

1T     cream of tartar


  1. In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment

  2. Add the powdered sugar and cream of tartar

  3. Slowly add the egg whites until you get the constantly

  4. Add more egg whites if the batter is to thick or add more powdered sugar if the batter is to runny.

photo credits: (top left) Gingerbread House Back, flickr, creative commons alleus; (top right) Gingerbread House, flickr, creative commons Fil.Al; (middle left) Gingerbread House, flickr, creative commons Dani Hydes.