AFCEA Washington, DC’s Winter Gala, now in its 45th year, incorporates both classic traditions and modern elegance, making it the premier social event of the holiday season for the Federal IT community.

As a celebration of the holiday season, the Winter Gala is not only a time to come together as a community, but also a time to give back. Over the course of the Gala’s 44-year history, AFCEA DC has established hundreds of STEM scholarships, and donated thousands of boxes of toys to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots initiative.
The heart of the Gala is the holiday spirit of charitable giving. Every year, we at AFCEA DC are proud to help support the efforts of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots initiative. In addition to accepting unwrapped toys at the door of the event, we are also encouraging generosity in the form of monetary donations to Toys for Tots, and donations via our Toys for Tots Amazon wish list. And if that wasn’t enough, we have asked that our sponsoring companies set out collection boxes in the lobbies of their headquarters. Request a donation box for your building’s lobby by emailing
The Gala is also a critical tool for fostering STEM education in the local community. Every year, AFCEA DC uses the proceeds from the Gala to establish scholarships for graduating high school seniors in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, helping to foster a comprehensive, structured path for students in the government IT workforce. Since May 1989, AFCEA DC has awarded 373 scholarships totaling more than $2,400,000 to students from 112 area high schools going to 71 U.S. colleges. AFCEA DC also supports McKinley Technical High School in their mission to become a nationally recognized STEM High School.
The Winter Gala continues to be a fixture of wintertime Washington because of the values that lie at the core of the event – the importance of giving back to our community. Attendees of the 44th Winter Gala can look forward to snow covered gingerbread creations, overflowing sleighs with toys for girls and boys of all ages, and unparalleled fellowship and community.

The Story of the Gingerbread Houses: An AFCEA Washington, DC Tradition


This time of year, gingerbread houses are prevalent. You can purchase building kits at local craft stores. Many venues showcase their pastry chef’s creative, architectural wonders. The delightful scent of cinnamon and nutmeg combines with the seasonal fir to create the classic smell of winter.

AFCEA Washington, DC joined this tradition in 2009, when it first began including massive, elaborate gingerbread houses at our annual Winter Gala.

Planning for the gingerbread houses begins with design discussions during the summer with the caterer. Windows Catering shared "the AFCEA gingerbread houses take about three months to design, bake, build and decorate. This year’s structures measure about 2.5 feet wide and nearly 5 feet long, with the exception of one that will be nearly 30 feet round. We have a very talented artist/architect/ partner that creates to-scale models of each structure. Then, our team of bakers bake sheets and sheets of gingerbread. Each house may use 10–30 gingerbread cookie sheets to create the structure. Once the structure is in place, all cemented by more than 15 gallons of royal icing, the Windows team goes to work to add the whimsical candy magic to bring the houses to life.”

Since 2013, in coordination with USO of Metropolitan Washington, the gingerbread houses are delivered to Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fisher House and the Children’s Hospital so patients and their families can continue to admire their splendor after the event.