How Does This Email Sound?

Decorating By kathik Updated 12 Mar 2010 , 7:33pm by Delynn

kathik Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 5:15am
post #1 of 29

I have an acquaintance who has asked me repeatedly if I will show her how to decorate cookies. While I am certainly not as talented as many here, I have worked very hard to learn and improve my skills. I am not opposed to helping her "a little", but I don't want to show her step by step or have her at my home during each step. Here is a draft of the email I have written to her. Could you help me improve it, please? Thanks everyone!

Dear xxx,

I have been thinking quite a bit about the logistics of showing you how to decorate cookies. It might help me to know what part you are specifically interested in learning. Also, it might help you to know a general rundown/timeline of the process so you can see why it might be difficult to show each step to you, without you moving in for a couple of days!

Step 1- Bake cookies
Step 2- Make 2-3 batches of royal icing (@ 1 hour)
Step 3- Divide, color, and let stand overnight for colors to deepen
Step 4- Put royal in separate piping bags (@ 1 hour or more depending on number of colors)
Step 5- Base color cookies (then they set to harden for at least 4 hours)
Step 6- Apply next color and allow to harden before adding next color
Step 7- Continue until complete

Anyway, let me know which step are you most interested in seeing and then I can determine the best way to do this. Since I know time can be an issue, if you'd rather I can lend you one of my favorite cookie decorating books and you can call me if you get stuck.

Talk to you soon,

28 replies
bakermom3107 Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 5:34am
post #2 of 29

How about asking her to show you her routine? Tell her you'd prefer seeing how she goes about the process and that way you can give a few pointers along the way. That way you only have to share what you want to. BTW I completely agree with you! When you work so hard on perfecting something, it isn't right for others to expect you to just share everything icon_smile.gif

robyndmy Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 5:47am
post #3 of 29

The first thing I thought of is be careful she doesn't actually take that as an invitation to move in temporarily, lol!

I think you're being very generous offering to show help her once she specifies details, and even better that you're taking the time to think it through like this. Very kind of you! I second your idea of not showing her the entire process, just what she needs most. Even more, I love the idea of you lending her a book, or what about pointing her towards some blog tutorials and You Tube videos?

As for the email itself, I think it sounds great! Maybe a tad formal in the beginning with words like logistics and specifically, but that could also be just how I'm interpreting it, ha ha.

Good luck, hope she takes it well!

kathik Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 5:57am
post #4 of 29
Originally Posted by bakermom3107

How about asking her to show you her routine? Tell her you'd prefer seeing how she goes about the process and that way you can give a few pointers along the way.

She doesn't have a routine. Based on her questions I don't think she's ever decorated cookies before.


robyndmy, I know she wouldn't move in. She has lots of kids and loves being Mom. I'll try to make the begin less formal. Maybe something like this:

"I know we both have busy home lives, so I have been trying to figure out the most time efficient way to show you how to decorate cookies."

-Tubbs Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 3:28pm
post #5 of 29

Why do you feel the need to tell her your techniques? Just point her towards google and tell her there are lots of good tutorials online. Which there are.

tootie0809 Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 3:48pm
post #6 of 29

I agree with Tubbs. Why do you feel it necessary to teach her, just because she asks? If you are busy, tell her you don't have time and don't feel bad about it. Did someone stop what they were doing to teach you your skills free of charge? Or did you take time yourself to research the internet, buy books, pay for classes, and practice to gain your skills? I'd tell her something like learning to decorate cookies takes a lot of practice and researching different techniques. Give her a list of a couple of your favorite cookie decorating books and tell her that's how you learned and be done with it.

cakesbycathy Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 4:05pm
post #7 of 29

What about something along the lines of...

Decorating cookies is a multi-step process that takes several days. Unfortunately, with both our busy lives, it would not be possible for me to show you how to do it from start to finish. Here are some books, videos, etc. that I found to be incredibly helpful.

denetteb Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 7:55pm
post #8 of 29

When I read the email it sounds as though you are willing to share each and every step with her, possibly over a period of time. Are you really willing to do this? If so then it sounds fine. However if you are just trying to accomodate her to get her off your back then consider setting some more limits, especially since she is an acquaintance not even a friend. My guess is she wants to see you decorate, the "fun" part. If you want to share this with her, then invite her over at your convenience when you will be doing step 5 or 6. If that time isn't good for her, then that is on her. The offer of your books, etc is a nice offer also.

AngelaM Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 8:36pm
post #9 of 29

You could always tell her that the next time you have a batch to decorate you'll call her and she can come over and observe. That way you're not setting up a special "lesson" just for her. She can watch what you're doing and take notes.

indydebi Posted 7 Mar 2010 , 8:44pm
post #10 of 29

definitely let her know it can take days to do these cookies, depending on the design. Most people are thinking in terms of PIllsbury slice-n-bakes. I always told people the base icing had to sit 12 hours before I could put another color on there (I rarely had them sit 12 hours, but that's what I told them just so they'd get the idea of how INVOLVED these can be!)

kathik Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 1:45am
post #11 of 29
Originally Posted by tootie0809

Why do you feel it necessary to teach her, just because she asks?

That's a good question. I have never felt like I needed to share before, but I think I feel guilty saying no, because our families are just becoming friends and after living here for a year and a half I appreciate finally developing a friendship.

The biggest reason I don't want to share (aside from the reasons listed above) is that I am the only one in this area who makes kosher decorated cookies. Even if I can't figure out a way to open my business here, I like that I have something special that I can give to people as gifts.

You guys are right, though. I definitely want her to know how involved they can be.


indydebi Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 1:51am
post #12 of 29
Originally Posted by kathik

... but I think I feel guilty saying no, because our families are just becoming friends ....

"guilt" is a woman thing. Men don't feel guilted into loaning their tools or giving away trade secrets but for some reason, women feel the need to make everyone "like" them.

Get over it. icon_wink.gif

noahsmummy Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 2:02am
post #13 of 29

i think just lend her the book point her in the way of some good tutes and tell her tis is the way you learnt! if you are giving her (some.. but not all!) of the methods you learnt by.. how is that rude? thats still being helpful without taking all your time and giving away all your secrets. =)

m1m Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 2:14am
post #14 of 29

"guilt" is a woman thing. Men don't feel guilted into loaning their tools or giving away trade secrets but for some reason, women feel the need to make everyone "like" them.

So true!!!!

LaBellaFlor Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 2:29am
post #15 of 29

Business is business, especially for "just becoming" friends. Lessons, $50 an hour. Time is money.

kathik Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 2:43am
post #16 of 29
Originally Posted by indydebi

"guilt" is a woman thing. Men don't feel guilted into loaning their tools or giving away trade secrets but for some reason, women feel the need to make everyone "like" them.

Get over it. icon_wink.gif

Indydebi, I love how you always cut right to the chase!! You're right, I just need to get over it!

Thanks for setting me straight!icon_lol.gif


kathik Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 4:34am
post #17 of 29

This is what I decided to send:

Hi xxx,

I know we both have busy home lives, so I have been trying to figure out the best way to show you how to decorate cookies. Part of the problem is it literally takes 3-4 days to make decorated cookies. Each color has to dry about 12 hours before adding the next color. I was thinking maybe a first step would be to lend you some cookie decorating books. You can look through them and maybe play around a little, then I can answer any questions you might have or we can get together to work on a specific part of a design you find. If this sounds good to you, I'll be happy to lend the books to you after Passover.

Let me know what you think of this idea,

I feel much better. Thanks all!

JGMB Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 12:42pm
post #18 of 29

That sounded good! Please let us know how she replies.

FullHouse Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 3:02pm
post #19 of 29

I had quite a few friends asking to come help when I decorate cookies so they could learn. In my case, they were friends and most were even offering to take care of my kids while I worked just so they could take a peek at my process. I wound up organizing a cookie decorating day with them. I limited it to 7, so we could all work comfortably at my island. I shared the NFSC recipe with them and instructed them to bring their baked cookies, a container to bring them home in a single layer, any embellishments they want, and a snack to share with everyone. I supplied the Royal Icing, a snack and drinks. I made the RI ahead of time. When they arrived, we colored the icing together and filled the bags (so I wasn't stuck doing all the set up). The colors didn't have time to deepen, but it was fine for our purposes. We flooded, then went back to the cookies for details, they were dry enough at that point. We spent about 5 hours decorating Christmas cookies together. They all loved it and asked if I would be willing to do it again, offering to pay me to do so. I enjoyed a day with my friends and though none of them knew how to decorate cookies, some were very creative so I got design ideas from them. Now, they are all encouraging me to start charging to do this for others.

If you want to encourage your friendship with her, it might be a great way to do so. You don't need to share every liitle trick, in my case, everyone was thrilled to learn the basics and so proud to show off what they'd done. That said, if you want to keep your techniques to yourself, you have every right to and should in no way feel guilty. I'd given my cookies as gifts to all of these women, which is what sparked their interest. I'll still give the same families cookie gifts when I want to, just b/c they know how to make them doesn't mean they won't enjoy mine. Anyway, many of them don't have the equipment to make everything at home and won't invest in it for something they'd only use a few times a year.

Justforfun751 Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 3:28pm
post #20 of 29

Kathik, your email is perfect. Your new friend probably had no idea how long it takes to decorate and like the others said, is probably just interested in how the "fun part" works.

Fullhouse, I love your idea! What a great way to share, but still not have to give away everything. thumbs_up.gif

TitiaM Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 3:41pm
post #21 of 29

I want to teach classes later, so I teach my friends. I do charge them, but less than I would for a regular client, so I can practice and figure out my lesson plans. It really helps in figuring out what works, and how much time different techniques take....

denetteb Posted 8 Mar 2010 , 4:12pm
post #22 of 29

I thought your email sounded great.

Pitchers_Bakery Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 5:46pm
post #23 of 29

i get asked to teach people how to decorate cakes all the time, honestly i reply with exactly what you said just no lending of the books, i usually state something along the lines of i learned with the wilton cake decorating classes, and also a lot of research and videos online. so you have sent her in the right direction, just keep telling her to buy books, and watch videos on line, buy magazines, and check websites, and blogs out. that way you wont be bombarded with a hundred emails of how to do this, or whats after this.... hope that helps.

KHalstead Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 5:57pm
post #24 of 29

I would say, My "cookie classes" are completely full right now but I will contact you with the next opening. They are $50/hr. so let me know what you're most interested in.......baking or decorating, this way we can utilize the time frame better!

2SchnauzerLady Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 6:02pm
post #25 of 29

When the people I work with started asking me how to do even simple cake decorations, and I told them how long it takes to do specific things, they decided it wasn't for them. If she has kids, she may be looking for a way to make something cute for them, but doesn't have any clue on the length of time it takes. And, if she has a lot of kids, she may not have the time to do it, so your email is perfect, it lets her know this is not a quick slap some icing on a cookie thing.

kathik Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 12:25am
post #26 of 29

Just following up with you all. She emailed me back today that she liked my idea. So, thank you all very, very much!

By the way, FullHouse, I love your idea and may decide to go that route, as well. Thanks for sharing!


FullHouse Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 12:59am
post #27 of 29

Happy to help. Hope it all works out well for you.

tinygoose Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 1:28am
post #28 of 29

I get people too who ask me all the time to teach them how to decorate cakes, and how much I'll charge for classes. Most of the time they are not really serious about it.

My reply. "Sure, first class is free. Let's pick a night. A day or two before, I need you to bake two 8" rounds cakes(any flavor except angel food) using parchment, make a batch of white buttercream and bring it over. Well start with torting, filling, icing, then see how far we get on decorating."

I figure if they really want to learn, they'll make the effort to bake. Then I can see what their skill level is by their cake, and most importantly I don't have to turn on my oven, or do a huge amount of prep work to teach them. It would work the same for cookies. You make this cookie recipe, and this icing recipe, and bring it over. As you can imagine, there aren't many takers when they realize they have to make the cake.

Delynn Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 7:33pm
post #29 of 29

I'd say, "I feel honored that you want to learn this craft from me but after all the $ and time I've put into learning how to make these, it has become very special to me and something I love to do. I don't want you to think I'm being selfish so I'll tell you how I learned... google tutorials, books from the library/on-line/in stores and trial and error. I've talked to many people over the past ___ months/years and they suggested the same methods to me too. I feel they were right, it feels more special having learned it on my own. If I ever decide to pass on my techniques, you'll be the first one I call."


"You know, __# of people have asked me how to do this (even if they haven't) and I'd love to teach you because you're family/a friend but, it wouldn't be fair to everyone else that I said no to. Like I've explained to them also, it has cost me $__ and time to learn it myself just by looking up information in Google, book & cake decorating supply stores, etc., because there's tons of info out there."

Quote by @%username% on %date%