Thanksgiving season is over, which means it is now socially acceptable to stop eating pie. We love a thick slice of pumpkin or pecan pie as much as the rest of you, but as holiday music starts to stream through speakers and peppermint mochas begin gracing the chalkboards outside coffee shops, we are turning our attention to gingerbread.
Three years ago, during our first holiday season on 9th Street, we invited families and friends to the store to build and decorate gingerbread houses. Yes, we do know that we are a doughnut shop, but we think gingerbread encapsulates hospitality and comfort just as our doughnuts do. We wanted to start a new tradition that celebrated a different confection while creating an environment that was warm and welcoming and full of holiday cheer and spirit.
This quickly became one of our favorite events, and as much as we would have loved to turn the store into a gingerbread town full of our own family and friends, we knew that this was something that other people could welcome to their own roster of holiday traditions. We coined this concept "Memory Makers," as it is a space where people can make holiday memories to last a lifetime.
We were blown away with the response when we first launched the concept at Thanksgiving, 2015. We immediately got to work organizing and executing, hoping to successfully bring our imaginative event to fruition.
First, we had to figure out how to bake lots and lots of gingerbread in the midst of making lots and lots of doughnuts. Thankfully, our team was incredibly flexible and eager to take on a new task. The toasty, spicy scent of baking gingerbread certainly acted as an incentive for our doughnut-makers to stray from the fryers and become gingerbread elves for a while.
When the ovens were full and every nook in the store was filled with nutmeg-y perfume, we decked our hall with garlands and lights, brewed up the chocolatiest hot cocoa, and filled bowls to their brims with sweet and salty fixins. With everything set up, we opened our doors to our very first and very eager crowd of memory makers.
With Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, Michael Bublé, and Bing Crosby crooning in the background, we decorated and iced to our hearts’ content, finishing the evening with a veritable village of gingerbread cottages. We managed to create a winter wonderland inside our shop in no time– all it took was a lofty idea and loads of holiday cheer!
Once the word got out that we were just as committed to delicious gingerbread as our classic doughnuts, we continued to make gingerbread house after gingerbread house after gingerbread house to keep up with the unending reservations. We also discovered that families wanted to purchase gingerbread house kits to decorate at home and gift to family or friends who couldn't be present for one of our events.
Who knew a craft doughnut shop could discover an experiential event business as well as stumble upon a new product in the form of gingerbread decorating kits? We truly see this as a testament to trying new things and keeping an open mind about new ideas and possibilities.
We have now entered our third season of Memory Makers at our downtown shop. With just three years of “gingerbreading” under our belts, we already start to receive inquiries about the event schedule before Halloween.
Families tell us how this event has become part of their holiday family traditions, but little do they know that our staff looks forward to these events just as much as our customers do!
Although we see excited new faces every year, we look forward to reconnecting with returning groups as well. In a way, these individuals and groups have become a tight-knit, seasonal sort of family. We love being able to connect with them on an entirely different level than we can when they swing into the shop for a quick doughnut and coffee before school or work.
The Gingerbread Memory Maker events have become an integral part of Harold's culture in a mere three years. Though the seasonal series has little to do with our delicious doughnuts, it's a perfect representation of what we seek to achieve at our shops every single day, no matter what the season. We always strive to provide exceptional service, hospitality, and products to our customers–people who we love to connect with on a deeper level and invite to become part of the Harold's family.
The tradition continues this season through Sunday, December 23rd. Reserve your house here and get your gingerbread on.