Every year, for four years, my family has held a Christmas night gingerbread competition at my parent's house in Missouri. Even though the competitors are only friends and family, you can see that we get really competitive and put a lot of time and energy into our houses. Contestants are given a basic house kit, icing, graham crackers, and an array of candy but are also welcome to bring any specific items they need. Our only rule is that everything used must be edible. If something non-edible is used your house will still be judged but won't be likely to win. A few days after Christmas my mother has all of her cousins, aunts, and uncles over for dinner and they fill out a ballot. The ballot always consists of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place but every year we decide on a few additional categories. Some of the past categories have been most traditional, most extreme, house I would want to live in, house I would want to eat... I don't remember them all. Winners get gift certificates.
Last year, 2006, my Taj Mahal slipped through every category and came out winning nothing. Boo hoo.
Building the dome was a challenge, seeing that I could only use edible items. I chewed up caramels and stuck them in a big ball. Then I glued on circle peppermints all around the caramel ball. Then I cover that all in icing and cut sticks of gum into tiles to decorate the outside.