This Is Going To Cost Me A Fortune Out Of Pocket

Decorating By PartyCake Updated 13 Dec 2009 , 10:28pm by 3GCakes

PartyCake Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 9:07pm
post #1 of 46

To advertise my children's party business I offered my services for Breakfast with Santa next weekend at a local Park District to have the kids decorate a snowman brownie or cupcake. I was told yesterday there would be approximately 45 kids in attendance which I figure would be worth it for the marketing aspect. Less than 24 hours later I received an email saying there are now 96 kids signed up and there is still one week left. The Park District is interested in me doing classes through their brochure so it is a great opportunity but I had no idea I would need to provide that many cupcakes. Since it is no charge to the Park District or the families it doesn't matter what I decorate. Would Rice Krispie Treats be the most economical in your opinion. I guess I could cover them in buttercream frosting and look up some photos on CC but I want it to look unique. I am not going to provide cake boxes and would probably just let the children take the projects home on a cake board covered with a doily unless everyone thinks it is well worth the extra money to include a cake box with the project to promote the business in a more professional manner.

45 replies
cakesdivine Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 9:14pm
post #2 of 46

One thing I have discovered is that everytime I do a freebie such as what you are doing I end up in such a financial pickle and it doesn't bring me enough business, if any, to compensate for the large out of pocket expense. People who attend free events will not spend money on custom products, they tend to want everything for free or for next to nothing. And in my experience that P&R departments don't pay diddly for their class offerings, or they put a cap on what you can charge. By the time you factor in your materials, gas, and time, it isn't worth all the work involved.

alvarezmom Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 9:18pm
post #3 of 46

Did the parents sign the children up to decorate a brownie/cupcake as you first stated or a RCT? I would think the least expensive way to go would be the brownies. This way you dont have to buy the cc liners. You could even get the Christmas napkins and hav the children up the decorated brownie on that to take with them. Trust me kids dont want to wait to eat a decorated brownie that they made themselves.

It would be allot of money to get boxes for 96 children and as you just said there is still a week left to sign up.

KHalstead Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 9:31pm
post #4 of 46

I would tell the park service that you hadn't anticipated provided 100 servings out of pocket and is there any way they can charge $1.00/kid??? I mean, that would at least offset the cost...........and just curious.........how on EARTH are you going to hold the attention of 96 kids while trying to explain how to hold a piping bag?? Are they using piping bags?? You'd need at least 1 for ever 4 kids I would think......that's almost 25 piping bags, tips, and think of the icing you'll go through!

cylstrial Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 9:35pm
post #5 of 46

Bring boxes and if the parents want to pay for the box - then they can buy one from you. If not, then they get the cake board.

CeeTee Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 9:52pm
post #6 of 46

Something doesn't sound right here. How many voulenteers will there be for this event to help you out? 96 kids and only you? Where will all of those kids sit? Will the parents be with them or not? What are the ages of the kids?

If this is just you alone doing this, you will need to call them back ASAP and set a firm cap on how many kids you will allow. In class situations like this you will want 8 kids per instructing adult MAX. (meaning if it's you and one other assistant, that you will only take 16 kids) Otherwise it gets too hectic and crazy. If a child is six or under, mandate that at least one of their parents or a teenage sibling must attend with them in order to help them.

It's irresponsible for the park to allow that many signups without clearing with you how many kids you can safely accomidate. Set a limit and then Let the park call back the parents and tell them that the class/event is full. If they don't, then don't do the event at all and back out. It's better to take a minor PR hit for having to cancel due to an "unforseen circumstance" than to be all alone in the middle of a storm of angry parents and crying kids and get a really bad rep. They've set you up to fail.

Don't do anything more prep until you get the attendance issue straightened out.

Spuddysmom Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 10:21pm
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by CeeTee

Something doesn't sound right here. How many voulenteers will there be for this event to help you out? 96 kids and only you? Where will all of those kids sit? Will the parents be with them or not? What are the ages of the kids?

If this is just you alone doing this, you will need to call them back ASAP and set a firm cap on how many kids you will allow. In class situations like this you will want 8 kids per instructing adult MAX. (meaning if it's you and one other assistant, that you will only take 16 kids) Otherwise it gets too hectic and crazy. If a child is six or under, mandate that at least one of their parents or a teenage sibling must attend with them in order to help them.

It's irresponsible for the park to allow that many signups without clearing with you how many kids you can safely accomidate. Set a limit and then Let the park call back the parents and tell them that the class/event is full. If they don't, then don't do the event at all and back out. It's better to take a minor PR hit for having to cancel due to an "unforseen circumstance" than to be all alone in the middle of a storm of angry parents and crying kids and get a really bad rep. They've set you up to fail.

Don't do anything more prep until you get the attendance issue straightened out.




PartyCake - Listen to this excellent post from CeeTee. I have taught gingerbread house "construction", etc. to classrooms of kids, but even being very experienced and in a structured environment I needed additional adult help. You are lacking necessary info - You are in waaay over your head.

kjt Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 10:39pm
post #8 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

One thing I have discovered is that everytime I do a freebie such as what you are doing I end up in such a financial pickle and it doesn't bring me enough business, if any, to compensate for the large out of pocket expense. People who attend free events will not spend money on custom products, they tend to want everything for free or for next to nothing. And in my experience that P&R departments don't pay diddly for their class offerings, or they put a cap on what you can charge. By the time you factor in your materials, gas, and time, it isn't worth all the work involved.




This has been my experience, also. thumbsdown.gif
Don't provide cake boxes, you are going to spend enough on the edible portion of your project. If I were you, I would not fool with cake boards either-just use cupcake papers, let the kids flatten them, decorate on them, AND take home the crumbs IN them! They'll eat them on the way out the door! You really need at LEAST three "helpers", it's going to be a zoo, and do not count on the parents being much help... good luck, and count this as a learning experience icon_smile.gif .

JustToEatCake Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 11:36pm
post #9 of 46

My experience with freebies, even when doing it for a good cause and asking for a small donation for Breast Cancer or USO or whatever is that people who sign themselves up or their kids, or are offered "FREE" items want FREE. They will never ever spend money or donate money to "the cause" or the business. Get through this the best you can, as cheaply as you can, ask the parks dept to supply helpers.

I want to give you an example we set up a table (and we were the ONLY table) with hotdogs, brownies, cookies, chips, and TONS of more items we individually packaged. This was set up in a military office building filled with civil service employees and the charity was to support THEIR military YMCA projects sending gift boxes to soldier. You would NOT believe the number of WOMEN (NOT MEN as they were good givers) who got in line filled their hands with ALL they could carry and would donate .50 for the whole the lot!! I'm talking 2 hotdogs, chips, brownies, drinks, etc...We tried this twice thinking the first time might be bad timing, but NOPE they did it again. A couple of women had class and donated decently (.50 per item was all we anticipated/hoped) but 90% were terrible. Why is it that MEN who most don't know what goes into baking and setting up stuff are the ones who actually GAVE? I'll never forget that. Something about getting something for "free" for some people, they just feel entitled.

You will see mothers show up with 4 and 5 kids and they'll care less what their kids do while they are there...because it's free..and they could care less anyway.

I hope for the best for you.

CakeMommyTX Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 11:44pm
post #10 of 46

Why not do rice crispy pops?
Stick each rice crispy on a stick (no more need for a box) and let the kids stick candies and what not on them.
I remember seeing some reindeer rice crispy pops but I can't seem to find them now, anyone know what I'm talkng about?
They are really cute and would be easy for the kids.

CeeTee Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 11:47pm
post #11 of 46

JustToEat is right, a lot of people who go to the events, especially with kids in tow, only care about the Free.

That's why you need to get a handle on the attendance issue ASAP, or be prepared to take a huge financial hit. It's 96+ right now, but as word gets around it will become double that easily, and who knows how many more will show up the day of the event who didn't bother to RSVP. You could very easily find yourself with hundreds of kids and families at something like this. You can't count on the Park District to provide enough labor or space to meet your needs if you don't set a firm boundary.

Communication is critical at this point! Get ahold of whoever is in charge of this event ASAP and hammer out the expectations and arrangements. If you can't set a firm attendance limit, then back out if you can't financially afford it. Most importantly, don't beat yourself up over it if you do have to back out. It's not your fault they have no control over their event.

mariahbakes Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 11:52pm
post #12 of 46

I just had this same thing happen...last night. I was scheduled to teach some basic cupcake decorating classes for 4 libraries in our system. Most classes in our libraries here are free of charge, which I was fine with but asked the library to limit the number of attendees to 20 per location.

I stroll in last night, set everything up and seat the 20 people who had signed up. About a minute into my introduction this storm of about 20 kids runs threw the door, all wanting a cupcake of course! Apparently the library had made an annoucement inviting people into the meeting room.
So, there I was, one woman, trying to handle 40 children. It was exhasting!

Put a cap on it and stick to it! It'll ruin the experience otherwise. I'm already dreading my class tomorrow. LOL.

SpringFlour Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 12:05am
post #13 of 46

My son and I recently attended a free "Breakfast with Santa" at our mall. I feel like the posters here perhaps may not have attended one before. (No offense, REALLY!) Any treats you provide can be SMALL! There were several food vendors there offering SAMPLE size treats.

If I were going to do this, I think I might offer a small plate with a 2inch x 2inch brownie (or a cupcake - even a mini would be OK), a disposable nut cup with icing and a plastic knife. (If you just used a piping bag, the little nut cups would be quick and easy to fill with buttercream!) Then I would have lots of different kinds of sprinkles and small candies on my table. These events (at least around here) are mostly for pretty young kids, so there will be parents there to help the kids.

It's not like you're trying to give a decorating demonstration, are you? The kids will pretty much just sprinkle away and be happy. Just be sure to have photos displayed of your work and lots of business cards.

I don't know about your area, but in my area, I'd have to disagree that people who are attending these events are only looking for free stuff. Yes, free stuff is great, but I think the market is different everywhere. There are plenty of affluent people in these parts who would be happy to order a custom cake. I'm not one of them, though. icon_razz.gif I'll make my own!!!

Oh, and I just thought about this...if each kid brings a parent, that doubles the attendance. icon_surprised.gif You may want to make some extra if you can!!

andpotts Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 12:17am
post #14 of 46

Hmm, well if it's a "Breakfast with Santa" event, that is the main draw, you won't be hosting a class so much as just being an activity table at the event right? If that is the case make as many brownies as you would like to provide and the supplies you need and to do the decorate a brownie deal it'll have to be first come first served. When you run out, you run out, that activity is closed. Also I say go with brownies or cookies not RKT.

I've planned quite a few events like this (Santa Breakfast/Fun Fairs/ Children'sHoliday Parties) and the way I'm imagining it, you're not going to have a captive audience, there will be an ebb and flow, sometimes there will be quite a few munchkins clamoring to do it and other time it will be dead (like when it's time to stand in line for pictures with Santa or while they are eating breakfast)

You need to talk to the event coordinators and find out what the general time line for the event is and then you can decide when and how you want to have your activity available. I would provide baggies (not expensive boxes) of some sort to take the treats home in. If my child made a messy decorated item at a breakfast event he would #1 not be allowed to eat it right then and #2 if it was just open and on a napkin or something I would be tempted to toss it in the trash vs having an icing bomb loose in my car. Just my 2 cents, but I think you need to get a lot more info about the event set up before you can make your plan. Andrea

3GCakes Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 12:29am
post #15 of 46

I'd make marshmallow snowman pops.

Put two large marshmallows on a candy stick, use thin pretzel sticks for the arms since you can just stick them them into a marshmallow.

A red licorice shoestring scarf.

A couple of mini choco chips for eyes, nose, maybe mouth, stuck on with with dabs of icing that you or an adult applies.

Voila. No baking, no boxes, no nut cups, not many crumbs.

Might cost 30 bucks for the whole she-bang...but...bring your business cards and give them out.

3GCakes Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 12:32am
post #16 of 46

Oh, put the marshmallows on the sticks before you get there. Have them sitting up in stryofoam blocks.

andpotts Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 12:56am
post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3GCakes

Oh, put the marshmallows on the sticks before you get there. Have them sitting up in stryofoam blocks.




Excellent idea for this type event, solves all the problems and cute!

andlydle Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 1:03am
post #18 of 46

i like the snow man idea, because that's going to cost you the least amount and it's still cute and fun. plus you shouldn't need to put in a bag or box (maybe you could bring some for the parents that ask if you have anything, but some parents will let their kids eat it right away)
but i do have to agree that areas are different with the free activities. I used to volunteer at various things 4 or 5 years ago and yes, there were the bad parents that just let their kids run loose, but then there were good ones that made sure their kids were behaving. if i had to guess you'll get a good mix.

CeeTee Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 1:20am
post #19 of 46

ive worked similar events, and needing to know a realistic attendance is still top priority, doesnt matter the size of the treat. If you show with supplies for 100 but 400 are there, that's not good! Even snack size treats can add up.

cownsj Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 1:55am
post #20 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustToEatCake

My experience with freebies, even when doing it for a good cause and asking for a small donation for Breast Cancer or USO or whatever is that people who sign themselves up or their kids, or are offered "FREE" items want FREE. They will never ever spend money or donate money to "the cause" or the business. Get through this the best you can, as cheaply as you can, ask the parks dept to supply helpers.

I want to give you an example we set up a table (and we were the ONLY table) with hotdogs, brownies, cookies, chips, and TONS of more items we individually packaged. This was set up in a military office building filled with civil service employees and the charity was to support THEIR military YMCA projects sending gift boxes to soldier. You would NOT believe the number of WOMEN (NOT MEN as they were good givers) who got in line filled their hands with ALL they could carry and would donate .50 for the whole the lot!! I'm talking 2 hotdogs, chips, brownies, drinks, etc...We tried this twice thinking the first time might be bad timing, but NOPE they did it again. A couple of women had class and donated decently (.50 per item was all we anticipated/hoped) but 90% were terrible. Why is it that MEN who most don't know what goes into baking and setting up stuff are the ones who actually GAVE? I'll never forget that. Something about getting something for "free" for some people, they just feel entitled.

You will see mothers show up with 4 and 5 kids and they'll care less what their kids do while they are there...because it's free..and they could care less anyway.

I hope for the best for you.




It's so sad when you realize that if you donated the money you spent on all your supplies (forget time and labor), you could have given them more money than you was given as donations.

cownsj Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 2:03am
post #21 of 46

I like the idea of the marshmallow snowmen too.

However, if you do offer something where they will be using icing, you could just put the icing in sip lock bags and clip the corner of the bag. Much cheaper than using real bags and you don't have to worry about losing couplers, tips, etc. The kids don't really care about the different designs from different tips, they just want to squirt icing out.

all4cake Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 2:26am
post #22 of 46

Small white lunch bags (or if you have time and the funds...order the greaseproof ones) with sticker that includes your contact information....

Happy Holidays from Susie's Sweets!

Phone:
Email:
(or whatever)

use shipping labels and either create your own or use one of the many MANY free holiday templates available

http://www.worldlabel.com/Pages/holidaytemplates.htm

andpotts Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 2:35am
post #23 of 46

Lots of people are assuming this is a free event, most likely it is not, the OP is just offering her services for free. So they probably have a deadline for people to sign up by, she really needs to talk to the event coordinator to get some clarity and go from there. If it is going to be too much, I would just kindly bow out, unless they have already advertised you being there. Everyone has offered some awesome ideas!

Deb_ Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 3:23am
post #24 of 46

If you are expected to donate your time and all of the supplies then I strongly suggest you set a limit on the # of children that can attend.

Before you know it they'll be 300 kids signed up....... icon_eek.gif

Good luck!

PartyCake Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 4:02am
post #25 of 46

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your suggestions! I feel better already. First of all, I don't know how yesterday it was 45 children and less than 24 hours later 96 kids and counting, but I guess that's another story. I think the Snowman Marshmallow on a stick is a fabulous idea since it would be the least expensive and I could provide lots of toppings to choose from at little expense. Since some of the kids would be doing the edible craft first before visiting Santa and some afterwards I think I would still need to provide a surface for the marshmallow to lie in. I will look at the cost of plastic cups at GFS Food Market and it could become a snow globe of sorts, although it would be upside down. Plastic treat bags might be an option if I can find them in large quantities somewhat expensive. I will look at the Dollar Tree. I could have the kids tie the bottom where the stick comes out with colorful ribbon, which is dirt cheap also. Well, you live and learn. My husband is so supportive so when I told him the number of possible kids he was silent for a while and I knew at that point I sort of got in over my head. Although on the bright side, a business size card ad costs $125.00/issue with a minimum of 3 issues at a local magazine that goes out to families in the area with young children. There is no guarantee that anyone even looks at something like that, whereas at least each parent will get my brochure and a tangible item for their child to bring home for a lot less than that. I will have about 3 helpers from what the email explained but even though I have worked with large groups of children before it was only about 30 at a time. Everyone should be in a good mood since they are there to see Santa. They already paid the Park District $14.00/a person so I don't know that they would pay any additional but I am going to send an email tomorrow and ask if I could ask for a $1.00 donation. That was another great suggestion. The parents have no idea that I will even be there so it will be an extra "bang for their buck". I will start looking up Marshmallow Snowmen now and get a few ideas. Since the Park District is interested in hiring me to teach classes in their brochure I think it will be a great marketing opportunity. It's just that I was a little startled icon_surprised.gif at the numbers. I love working with kids, even screaming ones, and they will all be dressed up in their holiday clothes so I am going to have fun and make a memory for each child there.

all4cake Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 4:21am
post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by PartyCake

I love working with kids, even screaming ones, and they will all be dressed up in their holiday clothes so I am going to have fun and make a memory for each child there.




thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

cownsj Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 5:07am
post #27 of 46

I'll be very anxious to hear how many kids you end up with and even more how the day goes for you. Best of luck.

Spuddysmom Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 3:57pm
post #28 of 46

Best wishes for a very successful event. Hope we get to see some photos afterwards!

icingimages Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 5:42pm
post #29 of 46

Call your local newspaper, and tell them what you are doing. Personally invite them to your class. Free advertisement!

all4cake Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 11:21pm
post #30 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by icingimages

Call your local newspaper, and tell them what you are doing. Personally invite them to your class. Free advertisement!




thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif Awesome idea!

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