If you are looking for a nifty project for the family to do together and enjoy through Christmas, then Jim Thorpe's Dimmick Memorial Library may have just what you're looking for.

Library staff member Irene Hudock is looking for tastefully designed gingerbread houses for its fourth annual Gingerbread House Contest. By tastefully designed, the houses are to be both lovely to look at and delightful to taste.

"The fragrance of gingerbread will soon be coming from the Dimmick Memorial Library in Jim Thorpe," Hudock noted. "The library is sponsoring a gingerbread house contest as part of Jim Thorpe's Olde Time Christmas Festival. Start a new tradition in your home by making and enjoying your own gingerbread house. You just might be a winner in the gingerbread house contest this Christmas -- and then you can eat your creation!"

Gingerbread cookies and ornaments have been a German seasonal tradition since the 1500s, when it was discovered that the addition of ginger to baked goods added spiciness, wafted fragrance throughout the kitchen, and helped preserve the few treats that were not immediately devoured.

"Ginger was used for bread and formed into stars, trees and figures for Christmas decorations. This love of gingerbread ornaments led to the use of gingerbread for creating larger pieces, the gingerbread house. These houses are decorated with candy and other sweets and use icing as the glue to hold the house together. In Bamberg, Germany, the Christmas market features a full-size house decorated to resemble a gingerbread house where gingerbread stars are sold to children of all ages."

The contest began in 2008 with about 10 entries, and has grown with an expected 20 entries in 2011.

"People don't have to stick to a gingerbread house format," Hudock said. "In past years, we have had castles, Santa at a beach house, and a model of the Pittsburgh Steelers stadium. Entries have been submitted from children as young as four years old."

Submit your family's tastefully-designed gingerbread house to the Dimmick Memorial Library beginning Monday, Nov. 28, "right after Thanksgiving," Hudock said.

"It's a great project to do during Thanksgiving when people are bored after eating their turkey dinners. They can get together with their families and put a gingerbread house together," she said.

Categories are: Adult (13 and older), Child (12 and under), and Group (scouts, class, family). Three prizes are awarded in each category. The first prizes are $25, with two runners up each receiving $10. Every part of the gingerbread house, except the platform, must be edible and major components must be made of gingerbread. There is no entry fee.

Entries will be judged on originality, theme, attention to detail, structural integrity and creativity. Entries shall be no larger than 12 inches by 18 inches, and must have major components, such as walls and roofs, made of gingerbread (not graham crackers or cookies), and must be made entirely of edible materials. No lollipop sticks or wrapped candy, with the exception of the foundation, which should be concealed and sufficiently sturdy for easy transport. One entry per person or group is permitted. Entries must be constructed in 2011.

Entries should include their name, address, phone number and category and be delivered to the Dimmick Memorial Library, 54 Broadway, Jim Thorpe between Monday, Nov. 30 and Thursday, Dec. 1. Judging will be held at the Library at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1.

Entries will be on display at the Dimmick Memorial Library until Dec. 17, after which they are to be picked up by the entrant.

The idea for the gingerbread house contest came to Tom McBride, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Dimmick Library during a trip to Germany where he and his wife, Betty Lou, toured German festivals.

"They had a lot of gingerbread houses on display," McBride said. "One town had a small house in the downtown square decorated as a gingerbread house."

For those new to gingerbread house construction, the Dimmick Memorial Library has a variety of books available. Information is also available online. For an entry form or for more information on the Dimmick Memorial Library Gingerbread House Contest, call (570) 325-2131.