Where to See Sweet Gingerbread House Displays in Phoenix

Now that the turkey's been devoured and our loved ones are dropping hints about what to gift them, it's impossible to avoid the holidays. Why fight a losing battle against the merriment of the season? It's time to give in and spread the holiday cheer. A favorite tradition of kids and adults alike involves baking gingerbread, using candy as home décor, and unfortunately not eating either of the above. There are two places in Phoenix to glimpse these charming (and edible) holiday creations -- but keep your grubby mitts off the gingerbread houses.

See also: - Home Sweet Home: A Gingerbread Show 2010 - White Chocolate Peppermint Pringles -- and Seven Other Seasonal Treats, Both the Naughty and the Nice

Grinch-ified Gingerbread House Competition

This year at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, the theme for the annual gingerbread house competition is Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The four finalists have already been chosen based on overall appearance, originality and creativity, difficult, precision, and consistency of theme. Their edible-yet-decorative creations are on display from now through the end of the year. Stop by the Park Lounge in the main lobby at any time to view them, and if you're there from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., you can sip a glass of wine or a cocktail while you admire the appetizing handiwork.

The four finalists' gingerbread houses each bring the Grinch and Whoville to life in unique ways. One is composed of three clean, simple buildings; the Grinch is in the center sitting atop a Christmas tree, and his dog Max is guarding a bag of stolen gifts on the ground. Another depicts the happy ending of the story when the Grinch and the Whos hold hands and sing around the tree. The entry closest to the large lobby doors (pictured above) is massive, practically capturing the whole town in gingerbread and icing. Prizes will be awarded for the top three competitors through a scholarship donation to their Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts tuition and/or supplies in the following amounts, and first place will walk away with $1,000.

Third Annual Home Sweet Home Gingerbread House Auction

Beginning on Tuesday, November 27 (today), there will be more than 30 custom-built, handmade gingerbread houses on display at the Children's Museum of Phoenix. For this week only,

the collection -- crafted by artists, architects, scout troops, community members, and maybe even a couple local celebrities -- will be available for public viewing with paid museum admission ($11). The exhibit will conclude with an auction held on Saturday, December 1, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The auction is free to attend, but a $10 donation is suggested.

The theme for this year's auction is "Rebuilding Neighborhoods, Impacting Children - One Home Sweet Home at a Time." All proceeds from the Home Sweet Home auction go directly to supporting the Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix. The organization works to support new homeowners, neighborhood stabilization, and foreclosure prevention by providing community education, home development, affordable single-family homes, down payment and closing cost assistance, and flexible mortgage programs.

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Dominique Chatterjee