ROSELAND, NJ – The public is invited to participate in Essex County’s annual 2018 Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest at the Essex County Environmental Center by entering their best gingerbread houses in a variety of categories.

The free competition encourages have fun over the holiday season while also helping the county raise awareness about nature. The deadline to register is Saturday, Dec. 1 and all entries must be delivered by Monday, Dec. 3.  

“Our Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest is a wonderful event that incorporates our mission to raise awareness about nature with a holiday theme,” said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. “This hands-on, family-oriented project lets people of all ages learn about the environment in a fun way. I am amazed at the creativeness and ingenuity of the entries each winter and look forward to another great contest.”

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Entries can be made in the four following categories:

  • Individual Child Category for children ages 14 or younger who work independently on all aspects of their entry.
  • Group/Family Category for children 14 and younger who work as a group or have adult assistance on any aspect of their entry. A maximum of five people can work on one entry.
  • Adult Non-Professional Category for individuals or groups of people (no more than 5 people per group) ages 15 and older who are students of the culinary arts or are not professional chefs.
  • Adult Professional Category for individuals or groups of people ages 15 and older who are professional chefs or are working in the culinary arts.

The base of all entries cannot be larger than 12 inches by 18 inches. There must be at least three identifiable sustainable building design elements, such as candy glass skylights, rainwater reuse, solar panels, etc. and/or a natural habitat component.

Children’s entries may have a cardboard foundation; however, all surfaces, including the base, must be covered with an edible product. All adult entries must be entirely edible, including the base, structure and all decorations.

Entries will be judged on guideline adherence, creative use a nature theme, used of green building design techniques and skill in decoration. Ribbons and prizes will be awarded in all categories. The decisions of the judges are final. Essex County and the Essex County Environmental Center do not assume responsibility for damage or loss.

The Annual Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest entries will be on display from Wednesday, Dec. 5 through Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Essex County Environmental Center, 621B Eagle Rock Avenue in Roseland, on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The awards ceremony will be held on location on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.

For more information and to obtain a complete set of contest rules, please call the Essex County Environmental Center at 973-228-8776 or visit

For those who would like to enter but have been too busy to register or need a little help getting started, the Essex County Environmental Center staff is hosting a “Gingerbread House Making Workshop” on Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. 

All gingerbread projects must be completed by 1 p.m. to be considered for the contest. Some materials will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own materials. Registration is required by calling 973-228-8776.