Holiday Decorating with Carter Oosterhouse

Carter Oosterhouse at Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City

This year, we were thrilled to partner with HGTV design expert, Carter Oosterhouse. Carter recently visited our resort in Traverse City, Michigan and assisted us with the life size gingerbread house. He also took a few moments to share his favorite seasonal decorating tips. 

The holidays are my favorite time of year, especially since I’m on the road so much. To make things even sweeter, this year I did something I’ve never done before—provided design insight and inspiration to a life-size gingerbread house at Great Wolf Lodge. Throughout the month of December, families can dine inside this edible creation—and similar gingerbread houses at each Great Wolf Lodge resort—for a $20 fee, which will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Life size gingerbread houses at Great Wolf Lodge are part of the resorts’ annual Snowland celebration. This year, when Great Wolf Lodge invited me to help bring something new to the gingerbread house project, I knew I could not say no. While in my hometown of Traverse City, I worked alongside the resort’s culinary team as we brought some of my fairy tale ideas to life. These included: icing icicles dripping from the roof, candy button wallpaper inside the house, “growing” poinsettias made of gingerbread for the window boxes and re-theming a traditional snow sled into a gingerbread sleigh to add candy curb appeal.

Families can visit the 11 Great Wolf Lodge resorts all this month to really get in the holiday spirit—and find inspiration to use at home for their own winter wonderlands.

While at the resort, I also worked with the team to take some of the big ideas from the gingerbread house and find inspiration to apply at home. We used some of the tasty materials from the gingerbread house to create a fun project at home—candy holiday photo frames.

We started with a simple wood frame found at your local craft store. Using favorite seasonal candies like red and green Pop Rocks, peppermints, cinnamon hearts and Nerds, the kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwestern Michigan and I got creative. We applied the candy to the frames using glue sticks. This great indoor project is something the entire family can get into and the finished project is a perfect treat to hold your holiday family photos all season long.

While at the lodge, I was also asked about my favorite tips to help make your home ready for the holidays. Here are a few ideas to help create your personal winter wonderland:

  • When decorating your Christmas tree, use clear lights and ornaments adorned in white and silver alongside glass icicles, to create a snowy, outdoor feel.  Don’t forget to use spray snow or flocking before you light and decorate the tree!
  • In the dining room, lay a white tablecloth across the table and add a centerpiece of red and silver ornaments or pine cones sprinkled with silver glitter. Include subtle light with candles atop a festive table runner. Adding a dimmer switch in the room—and throughout the entire house—will really set the mood at dinnertime with your loved ones, and help enhance your home’s seasonal lighting.
  • Spread cheer throughout the house by introducing new seasonal colors with throw pillows or blankets. Red, green and silver accents will give your home an updated holiday feel without breaking the bank.
  • Decorate the windows with spray frost and place a flameless candle in each window to shimmer on the snow at night.
  • To put the finishing touches on your holiday home both inside and out, take the decorating outside by lining the driveway with white lights and hanging icicle lights from the rooftop.

Happy Holidays, 

Carter