This weekend, my daughters and I made our graham-cracker houses. As I write about in Happier at Home, every year, instead of traditional gingerbread houses, we make graham-cracker houses, which are easier to build and decorate.
Every year—this also seems to be part of the tradition—I almost forget to organize the house-building, until it’s almost too late. But we’ve always managed to do it.
I learned how to make graham-cracker houses when my older daughter was in kindergarten; I was a parent helper when the children made them as part of a unit on “home.” (Coincidence? Or not?)
For me, one of the most important aspects of home is the celebration of traditions—like the building of these houses. Family traditions mark time in a happy way and give a sense both of anticipation and continuity. Research shows that traditions, routines, and rituals boost physical and emotional health. And they’re fun.
I love graham-cracker houses because they’re very festive, they’re very dramatic, and they’re easy. No kids crying because the task is too frustrating or because “it doesn’t look right”; no mother irritable because the task requires a lot of errands, prep work, or clean-up. (My husband cheers us on, but doesn’t build a house himself.)
If you’d like the extremely easy instructions about how to build a graham-cracker house, you can find them in episode 96 of the Happier podcast.
From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.