"Start planning now to enter your culinary masterpiece in our Second Annual Gingerbread House Contest," said Susan Sterling, director of the Dimmick Memorial Library in Jim Thorpe. "Round up your family and friends, and spend some quality time in the kitchen creating a culinary work of art."

Sterling and co-chair Irene Hudock are reprising the gingerbread house competition that drew a dozen entries to the Dimmick Library's Olde Time Christmas festival contest.

"We had such a good turnout last year and such fun doing it that we thought we'd do it again," Sterling said. "The Old Jail Museum is providing prize money."

This year, competitors will compete in there categories: children 12 and under, adults 13 and older, and a group category-typically scouts, a school class or a family. There will be winners and runners up in each category.

"We had fun," she said. "People enjoyed doing it and it brought people to the library. Everyone who did it last year had a great time. We have already had people asking when we will be doing it again. It's part of Olde Time Christmas. It gets people in the spirit We'll have the gingerbread houses on display throughout the Olde Time Christmas weekends."

What does it take to make a really great gingerbread house?

"It takes imagination," Sterling explained. "That's the key. Some of the entries we saw last year were really interesting. It doesn't need to be a house. We had a castle. I've seen animals. It has to be something made out of all edible material based upon gingerbread-at the end of the program, we eat them."

The idea for last year's 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," said Tom. "One town had a small house in the downtown square decorated as a gingerbread house. Young girls stood outside with their white aprons and white hats passing out gingerbread samples."

"It was exciting for a first contest," said Hudock. "Many neighbors and tourists came in to look at the gingerbreads. This year will be bigger and better."

"Let your kids explore their creative talents and challenge their imaginations, or take some time out for yourself this holiday season and build the 'house of your dreams,'" Sterling said.

New to gingerbread houses? No problem. The Dimmick Library has books on how to do it. There are also resources on the Internet. Sterling encourages entrants to follow tradition and bake their own gingerbread although kits are available at certain local markets.

Here are the rules:

Ÿ Entries will be judged on originality, theme, attention to detail, structural integrity and creativity.

Ÿ Entries shall be no larger than 12 inches by 18 inches.

Ÿ Major components such as walls and roofs must be made of gingerbread.

Ÿ Entries must be made entirely of edible materials (no lollipop sticks, wrapped candy, etc.) except for the foundation. Foundation base must be completely concealed and sturdy for easy transport.

Ÿ One entry per person or group: Child - 12 & Under; Adult - 13 and older; Group - Scouts, Class, Family, etc.)

Ÿ Entries must have been constructed in 2009.

Ÿ Entry forms are available at the Dimmick Memorial Library

Ÿ Entries shall be delivered to the Dimmick Memorial Library during library hours beginning Monday Nov. 30 and ending 5 p.m. on Thursday Dec. 3.

Ÿ Judging will be held Thursday, December 3 at 6 p.m.

Ÿ Entries will be on display during Olde Time Christmas festival weekends December 4, 5, 6 and December 12 & 13 at the Dimmick Memorial Library or at the Library Annex.

Pickup of the entries is on December 14 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

For more information, call the Dimmick Memorial Library, 54 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229, telephone: (570) 325-2131.