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Enviromental & Heritage Center sponsors gingerbread house contest

It'll be a green Christmas this year as the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center prepares for its Green Holiday program with a gingerbread house contest.

The Center, which is home to a range of nature exhibits, will hold its 2nd Annual Sustainable Gingerbread House Competition to promote the holiday spirit as well as green technology in building.

Participants will create Christmas-themed homes out of gingerbread featuring at least three sustainable building elements in their design. Think solar panels, rain barrels, windmills and any other forms of green technology. The houses can be crafted from traditional gingerbread and candy as well as items from nature such as twigs, leaves, pinecones, etc. Decorators can even substitute the gingerbread mix with dog biscuits, bird seed cakes, and the likes as long as it is edible.

Jason West, director of development at the center, recalled some of the creative elements that made last year's houses successful.

"There were rain barrels out of fruit rollups. Another had a vegetated roof made of colored coconut," he said.

Everyone from pre-kindergarten to adults can join the fun and enter a festive gingerbread house into their respective age categories as an individual or as a group. The categories include pre-K through second grade, third through sixth grade, teen, adult, family (group only) and professional.

Last year the competition had about 30 entries.

"We expect that number to grow this year," West said. "And we're excited."

The contest will culminate at GEHC's Green Your Holiday program which will showcase all of the entries and award winners with a ribbon and a $75 gift card courtesy of the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center Foundation. The event will take place Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with award presentations at 11 a.m. and include other festivities such as recycling games and upcycled crafts.

"Upcycled is a term used to describe a gift that keeps on giving," West said. "Something you can be creative with and reuse."

Children can also learn science with Santa and create snow or get a picture with the jolly old fellow. For the older crowd, there will be shopping from local vendors in the gift shop.

"We'll have a holiday green living kids drop-off," added West, "while parents shop from our local vendors." He further noted that this drop-off is only available through pre-registration.

In addition to the Green Your Holiday event, all gingerbread houses will be displayed throughout the month of December.

So grab some gingerbread, candy and anything from nature and get started. Entries are due Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. Contestants can deliver their houses to the center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 1, Dec. 1, and Dec. 2, as well as from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4.

For more information on the competition and the holiday event or to register, visit gwinnettEHC,org.