Forever dreaming of a white Christmas that will never come -- unless we head to the Sierras, at the very least -- we Southern Californians do Christmas a bit differently than the rest of the country. Were we to go caroling, for example, we might consider wearing sandals, or Ugg boots with skirts, if it's a cold day. It should be no surprise then that on this year's list of notable gingerbread houses there aren't many actual houses, but a number of "structures," built from the same molassesy biscuits and icing that they use to build gingerbread houses elsewhere. Because it's not that we're not less traditional, just differently traditional, and equally festive. For 4 great local gingerbread structures, turn the page.
1. Ritz-Carlton (Laguna Niguel) - A replica of a 1948 Ford Woodie. Six feet wide and five and a half feet long, the 150 pounds of gingerbread used to build the car are held together with 300 pounds of royal icing. There's also an entire beachfront boardwalk in the open trunk, complete with an ice cream shop, a surf shop, a barbershop, and a life guard's post. The sand is made from crushed graham cracker.
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2. Park Hyatt Aviara Resort (Carlsbad) - In addition to a towering 10 foot tall measurement, 675 residents including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Frosty's Ski-Daddle Ski School, and Clitzen's Ale and Spirits, the gingerbread mountain village at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad boasts the most disproportionate ratio of dough to icing: a mere 22 pounds of dough to 300 pounds of icing.
3. The Langham Huntington Hotel (Pasadena) Langham house chef Robert Steele created a replica of the Langham London 1865 hotel to serve as the centerpiece to the snowy Christmas display. Lovely, but far short of the world record for longest gingerbread, which was set two years ago by a team at the Langham Mongkok, Hong Kong.
4. Embassy Suites Hotel (South Anaheim) With chimney, the most traditional structure on the list, the gingerbread house at the Embassy Suites Hotel in South Anaheim, stands eight feet tall. 6 pounds of licorice and 25 pounds of gummy bears were used to create the house's 16 stained-glass windows.