Black Friday, the Super Bowl, dinner with the in-laws – the holidays are always good for some competition. In keeping with that theme, the Atlassian San Francisco office decided to follow our annual Halloween pumpkin carving contest with an inaugural holiday gingerbread house building competition.

The rules: each team gets a bona fide gingerbread house kit, and $10 to buy supplies. Everything added to the house must be edible.

Before we get to the results, we thought we’d pass along a few tips from the experience:

  • RTFM: those teams that thought making icing was a piece-of-cake (okay, strange pun) struggled. Add too much water and you run out of mortar; too little and the darn thing won’t set.
  • Gingerbread tastes really, really bad: a few of us got hungry during the build and tried to eat part of our houses. Trust us: it’s not worth it.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute: the biggest underestimation most made was around how long these things take to build, especially when competing against people that are willing to pull out all the stops (see below for examples). If you want to win, start early. Nothing kills a good eggnog buzz like a caved in gingerbread roof.
  • throw away the blueprint: following the box is going to yield you one very boring square gingerbread house, adorned with gumdrops and jelly beans. If you want to win this puppy, you have to go off-road. Just when everyone is expecting you to pull out the little ski chalet with marshmallow topping, you throw down the Taj Mahal with stained glass from melted Jolly Ranchers. Dream big.

So, without further adieu, the results of the inaugural Atlassian gingerbread house competition:

Admirable entries that didn’t win:
Lots of great ideas here, and some very creative use of materials.

First up, the Polar Bear House. Surprised this team pulled this out, considering the Polar Bear ate up half of their $10 allowance.

Polar Bear.jpg

A Gypsy caravan. Technically, the x-mas lights aren’t edible, but we let it slide.

Gypsy Caravan.jpg

A bunch of us like to play board games during lunch, so the House of Cards house won some votes:

House of cards.jpg

A tribute to our Amsterdam office, the Redlight District House, complete with a risque silhouette etched from a fruit roll-up and snow people embarrassing themselves:

Redlight district house.jpg

The Golden Gate Bridge house, with two halves of lettuce representing the Marin Headlands and Presidio, and blueberries representing the rough waters of the bay.

GG Bridge.jpg

This was a close runner-up, an almost exact replica of our office building at 375 Alabama Street in San Francisco. The bus in front was actually parked outside of the office that day.

375 Alabama.jpg

And the winner:
The Beach Chalet house, with roof of bay leaves, a blue ocean of jello powder, and a beach of brown sugar.

Beach House.jpg

Not sure what we’ll do for Valentine’s Day, but holidays around this office certainly aren’t dull. Happy holidays from Atlassian.

Gingerbread houses, the Atlassian way