When good gingerbread men go bad: how to bake the best of an awkward situation

I ordered all my gifts online this year, which meant I had more time on my hands for attempting holiday-oriented crafts than in years past. My family was tentatively excited. I am not a “crafty” person, which surprises those who think creative professionals flit around in their spare time constantly dreaming up creative ways to engage our kids in “extreme” crafts that require gallons of tape, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, egg cartons, paper towel rolls and stick-on eyes.

Nope. As a marketing copywriter, my job is to write copy that sells stuff somebody else made. That means my brain is already chock full of video white papers, engaging social media stories and visions of high email open rates and click-throughs dancing in my head. It’s a wonderful life indeed.

I decided to try making gingerbread cookies. I can hear pastry chefs everywhere now: Christy Miles, put down the decorating tips and cookie cutters and nobody gets hurt! The baking part is easy–buy a box mix, stir together the ingredients, roll out the dough, use the cookie cutters, snap! So easy. So deceiving. Then comes the decorating part. I distributed my homemade cookies to my neighbors for the first time this year and worried that my Gingerbread Men might scare the small children. Then I thought, nah, they’re cookies, kids will eat anything with frosting. And on the upside, at least everyone would know without a doubt that the cookies weren’t store-bought.

As my holiday gift to you, here are two of my gingerbread cookies with my quick marketing analysis.


The Mr. Bill Gingerbread Man

When I uploaded this photo, wordpress.com asked if I wanted to add an alternate text for the image, “i.e., the Mona Lisa.” Ha ha, WordPress, very funny!

He looks scared, this Gingerbread Man. Sadly, this is how many of my Gingerbread men turned out, looking vaguely like that old Saturday Night Live puppet/play-doh man Mr. Bill. My clumsy fingers could barely place the M&Ms gently into the small dollop of icing for the buttons. One even flipped over, showing the M, which I know would never cut it in the design or pastry world, but I was too lazy to fix it. Oh, who am I kidding, this wouldn’t even make a preschool’s line-up. Next up we have…


Bugsy the Bug-Eyed Gingerbread Man

When I started this cookie stuff, I was seriously intent on making cute gingerbread men. I got to this guy and thought, hmm, I wonder how he would look with M&Ms for eyes? No one ever shows Gingerbread Men with M&M eyes. Now we know why.

He looks freaked out or like he’s had a bad eye lift. Or perhaps it’s a goiter? We’ll never know. My family had a wonderful holiday moment as we tried to brainstorm what ailed Bugsy. Never mind the fact that Bugsy’s buttons are touching his mouth, the poor guy has no neck. But hey, he’s smiling.

My kids also decorated Gingerbread Men and they turned out to be much more fearless in their use of color, style and approach.

Kid-Friendly Gingerbread Men

OK, so the middle one has frosting bug eyes; getting the eyes right is definitely one of the trickiest parts. But all in all, these Gingerbread Men are fun, festive, colorful and look like they were made by kids for kids. Definitely more charming than my gingerbread freaks of nature. These would get eaten for sure.

Except not at my house. No one wants to eat them now because we are having too much fun making fun of them. So we’ve decided to make up a story about each Gingerbread Man and read them out loud on Christmas.

Writing. Now that I know how to do. This is why I’m a copywriter, not a pastry chef. 🙂

Happy holidays, everyone. Wishing you a wildly creative Christmas and New Year!


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