Ann Bailey beat out 170 entries to take this year’s grand prize with a creation inspired by A Christmas Carol.
Credit: Courtesy

For most people, the official countdown to Christmas doesn’t begin until they’ve finished shoveling the last piece of pumpkin pie into their mouth tomorrow night. But for 170 dedicated gingerbread artists, they’ve already been looking past Thanksgiving, focusing instead of putting their best work forward using their favorite Christmas house-building medium. That’s because this past Monday, the 25th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition was held at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. And if you’re looking to jumpstart your holiday, photos of the winning entries are available for all to see.

Overall, 12 winners were selected – a first, second and third prize in each of four categories: adult, teen, youth and child – with over $25,000 in cash and prizes being awarded in total.

“A panel of highly regarded judges evaluated each creation based on overall appearance, originality/creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme, with each entry required to be made of at least 75 percent gingerbread,” explained Omni Hotels.

“The 2017 panel of adjudicators featured world-renowned pastry chefs, artists and media experts, including the founder of the International Sugar Art Collection, a curator of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the author of ‘Making Great Gingerbread Houses’ and many others.”

This year’s Grand Prize Winner was Ann Bailey from Cary, North Carolina, who’s won the competition before. Her gingerbread house, titled “The Three Ghosts,” was inspired by the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Her incredibly detailed creation, which took a delightfully loose interpretation of the word “house,” featured intricately designed characters positioned upon multiple levels made up mostly of authentic-looking hardback books. According to USA Today, this nontraditional design required some nontraditional techniques, with the artist utilizing “ginger gel,” described as a proprietary blend of gingerbread flour, gelatin, “and a few other ingredients that are secret,” she told the paper. “That's just who I am,” she said of her winning entry. “If I do a piece, I want to make sure that I capture every single little bit so it tells a story. You don't have a hand without fingernails, and those little details really count for a lot.”

For those interested in seeing all the entries in person, they’ll be on display at the Omni Groove Park Inn from November 26 to January 4, 2018. Viewing is free, however, a $20 per car fee will be charged for parking, half of which will be donated to local nonprofit organizations.