Thursday, December 12, 2013

Feast your eyes on gingerbread houses

Is that you, Santa Claus? Great Wolf Lodge has a gingerbread dining room.

This is shaping up to be an unusual Christmas for me. It's Dec. 12, and I haven't been asked to judge a single gingerbread house display. I'll never meet my annual quota of counting Lifesaver roofing tiles and meringue snowmen this way.

Don't let that fate befall you. Here are a few places where you can catch up on the wonders of royal icing mortar and giant confections:

1. Gingerbread Lane at the Ballantyne Hotel is open for viewing through Dec. 29. The judging for the annual amateur and professional was Dec. 11, but I haven't heard the results yet. So I don't know if there's anything to top my personal favorite from last year, "Night of the Living Bread," a gingerbread zombie battle. (Don't worry, most displays are much sweeter, mostly happy elves and gingerbread cathedrals.) The display is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and you can cast votes for your favorites with $1 minimum donations to the Levine Children's Hospital. There are other events going on like holiday teas and hot chocolate sippings, if you want to make a bigger event of your trip. Details: 

2. Wait, the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte doesn't have its annual lifesize gingerbread house this year? Never fear, there's an 8-foot Christmas tree made from French-style macarons instead. And it includes chocolate reindeer, so we'll accept that. It's on display near Bar Cocoa, conveniently stocked with macarons and very near the gelato machine. There are holiday teas available, too. Bar Cocoa hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. For teas, go to or call 704-547-2244.

3. Now here's a giant gingerbread event: At the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, you can dine inside a life-size gingerbread house at Snowland! through Dec. 30. Seatings are at 8 am., 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The house can hold up to six people. Reservations are required; call 704-549-8206, ext. 5036. You don't have to be a guest at the lodge. It costs $10 to sit in the house; meals are extra and range from $7 for kids and $14 for adults at breakfast to $20 for adults at dinner. The house-sitting fee goes to Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Details: