By Dan Pattarini
The Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) held their first ever Gingerbread Diplomacy Contest in December 2021. With pandemic concerns making traditional holiday gatherings and outreach events inadvisable, OFM sought a safe, enjoyable outdoor alternative. With the long running popularity of OFM’s summertime street festivals in mind, the idea for Gingerbread Diplomacy was born. Open to all foreign missions in Washington, participating embassies were asked to render their embassy or a “culturally significant building” using gingerbread. The results included renditions of a stately ballroom with a portrait of the Queen by artist Andy Warhol, waves crashing against a magnificent seaside castle, a pair of UNESCO World Heritage Site guard towers, and a stately manor elaborately decorated for the holidays, among others.
On Dec. 8, the Embassies of Georgia, Mexico, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom brought their entries to the International Chancery Center (State Annex-33) complex in northwest Washington—which is home to 18 foreign missions along with several OFM offices. In addition to the foreign mission entries, OFM staff contributed a gingerbread replica of the 21st street façade of the National Museum for American Diplomacy.
A three-member volunteer panel reviewed each of the embassies’ submissions and selected the winner. The Ukrainian embassy won the inaugural Gingerbread Diplomacy Contest with its depiction of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the “Swallows Nest.”
Dan Pattarini is the public affairs officer in the Office of Foreign Missions.