Jacksonville family turns home into gingerbread house for holidays

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you’re traveling through Mandarin and make a stop in the Coventry neighborhood, you’ll see the home of one Mandarin family creating sweet memories this holiday season.

The Donaldsons have been going above and beyond with their Christmas decorations for seven years.

This year, they started decorating the inside of their home on Oct. 1. The outside began during Thanksgiving weekend.

They turned the entire house into a life-sized gingerbread house.

“Our eight-foot gingerbreads, also eight-foot ice cream cones, all the candy that we’ve obviously decorated. There’s candy galore all over inside, outside, so it’s just what makes the house,” said Katheryn Donaldson.

The Donaldsons have made it their mission to spread holiday cheer through their elaborate decorations.

From the smallest detail to the largest, no part of their home goes undecorated for December. They said if you include ornaments, it’s probably thousands of decorations — all inspired by their daughter’s unique birthday party request.


“I asked her what she wanted to do for her sweet 16 birthday party,” Donaldson said. “She said, ‘I want a party, SWEET 16 party.’ So, my husband and I decided to start making candy for a solid year. And that birthed the gingerbread house. I didn’t know what I was going to do with all the candy afterward and I was like awwww.”

Their labor of love knows no bounds. There are five 8-foot-tall gingerbread statues, representing each family member.

And even the bathrooms are fully decked in holiday décor.

And the decorations don’t spike the power bill.

“It’s really not that much because we use all LED,” Donaldson said.

Here, the decorations don’t go up just once a year. The Donaldsons keep the Christmas tree year-round.

Every month it is decorated in a different theme. This month’s has a very special meaning.

“With my son in the military, I had to have a military tree,” Donaldson said. “So, we have a tree that is literally decorated just for him. And he won’t be able to be with us for several Christmases. So, it’s kind of just an extra way to spend a little bit of time focused for him.”


If you’re not feeling the holiday cheer, this home is sure to brighten your spirits.

The Donaldsons said next year’s theme will be Winter Wonderland Express — but no worries, the gingerbread decor will return in two years.

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