I am new to these forums so have patience with me. I recently volunteered to do cookies for a friend's wedding favor. I did not ask about the guest list. BIG MISTAKE! She told me the wedding had 250 people and that she would like each guest to have 3 cookies in a bag with "J", "&", "D" written on each cookie. THIS COMES UP TO 750 COOKIES!!! What the hell did I get myself into. I sent her a sample box with my "easiest to do" cookies which she loved but they were not decorated and she wanted them decorated. I totally regret offering my free service but I am new and I have never done a wedding before. Can someone help me with how best to undertake this task. Should I bake all the cookies and freeze them undecorated. Should I do 750 royal icing transfers. I was thinking about doing powdered sugar stenciling but I don't know if the pattern will be destroyed with the packaging. Somebody help me please. I have learnt my lesson about volunteering.
Yikes! I would just explain to her that you can do them for free if they are not elaborate and packaged, but she will have to pay for at least the materials if they are decorated and packaged. That's A LOT! Maybe there was just a misunderstanding and she doesn't expect you to do them without pay? I'd confirm by saying something along these lines.
You need to explain that you didn't realize it was going to involve 750 cookies. Now personally I think 1 cookie per bag (or even 2) would be good enough. Perhaps you could do just one of the cookies decorated and the others just yummy, then the decorated one could go on top.
I agree with Sarah. there is nothing wrong with having a realization that this was a larger undertaking than you expected and give straight communication to the bride about your needs as a baker. also, just because this is your first time doing something for a wedding doesn't mean you don't deserve pay for your time and supplies...stick up for yourself and make sure you get paid!
Wow talk about being taken advantage of. Unless you have a lot of money to burn, I'd really talk to the bride again, it's not just the money but your time as well. 750 drop cookies and 750 cutout cookies WITH decoration are two completely different things. Powdered sugar stencilling does not hold up well for packaging, I'd do RI stencilling on perhaps fondant covered cookies (use the same cutter to cut the fondant and lay it on the HOT cookie) Let cool down completely before stencilling, otherwise the fondant will be too soft.
Even if you do it that way, you are talking about days of work and loads of expenses
I think one cookie per guest is plenty, too.
Have you have dipped cut out cookies in the Wilton Melts? I know someone who went to school to be a pastry chef and she does this. After they are cool, she dips each cookie in melted melts. They are very pretty and a lot less time consuming.
To make them even prettier, she will sometimes use the chocolate transfer sheets on them.
Just a thought.
I do a lot of wedding cookie favors and it is always 1 cookie per bag per guest. If she wants their initials, how about the couple's monogram stenciled with RI on a RI covered cookie. You could go with square, round, heart, wedding cake etc shape. You can bake and decorate with RI, bag them and freeze them ahead of time.
My business partner and I just finished 1,800 fondant covered train cookies with "seasons greetings" stencil and outlined. We have our last 1,000 for this week and then we're done, Thank God!
What working best for us (there 2 of us) is making the dough, rolling it all out, refrigerating the rolled out dough, then cutting and baking. We can only bake 5 sheet pans of 15 at a time but we have the next five pans ready when the first five finish baking. While cookies are cooling, we are cutting the fondant shapes.
towards the end of the last 1050, we ended up having lots of fondant cut out left over so we put them on large cardboard cake boards and made stacks of the cutouts with parchment between each layer and put them in the refrigerator. This works out great because the cutout stay pliable and are easy to adhere to the cookie. Hope this helps. Any question, pm me.
This is a large undertaking for two people, and if you decide to do 750 by yourself, this assembly line method might work for you.
If this is a friend (my assumption since YOU volunteered), tell her you had no idea that the undertaking would involve 750 decorated cookies. Tell her you are a home baker and simply do not have the resources for that type of undertaking. This type of quantity may require a commercial kitchen with staff.
Unless you are a very experienced baker used to these quantities, (like the post above) it is simply not possible. Once you explain the logistics, I'm sure she will be understanding. She probably has no idea what is involved with her request. YOU will have to educate her.
The biggest hurdle is simple logistics. Do you have 10 cookie sheets, a space to hold the cookie sheets, a mixer to mix the dough, (what if your Kitchen Aide breaks down from too much cookie dough?). Do you have freezer space to store 250-750 cookies and a location to lay out and decorate 250-750 cookies? How long will it take you to decorate 250-750 cookies? Do you have a way to transport the cookies?
Even if you offer only ONE decorated cookie per guest (250 cookies), figure out the packaging first: Simple packaging, 4x6" clear cello bag with ties would be about $10-$15. Clean boxes from U-Haul to transport cookies: $10-$15. Cookie ingredients/Time: ? You are still looking at a HUGE logistical problem with only 250 decorated cookies. If she were to purchase 250 decorated cookies, it would cost about $500-$750, depending on the decoration.
When you volunteered to make cookie favors, you were offering your labor, talent/supplies/ingredients/overhead (hot water, electricity, paper towels, parchment paper, etc.) as your gift. How much would you have spent on a wedding gift for this bride? Were you planning to get her a gift worth $200? $300? $500-$750? If you would normally purchase a gift worth $100, then tell her you will give her a cash gift or something from her Registry instead of the cookie favors since you, AS A HOME BAKER, cannot make enough cookies for her extensive guest list.
Favors are NOT expected by guests, and the lack of cookie favors will have no impact on her wonderful day.
I agree with Apti, if I were taking on this type of order in my bakery with my assistant, it would take a very considerable amount of time. P.S. I would charge $3 each for bagged decorated cookies (and that's for simple designed cookies) so if you wanted 750 it would be over $2000. And completing an order like that would take the two of us at least 2-3 days. It's a huge undertaking. Perhaps another suggestion could be to again just do non decorated cookies and have pretty monogramed labels printed. I do have a question though to add, how do the RI cookies hold up to freezing? Do you have trouble with the icing when you take them out. Also, consider that I live in very humid south Louisiana and we have trouble with condensation on everything that comes out of a freezer/cooler.
first of all ...I LOVE YOU GUYS. I did not think I was going to get a response at all. I volunteered because i have NEVER done a wedding before and I was looking to do one before the end of the year. The wedding is on the 26th and there is no way I can not do these cookies for her. What I will suggest to her is doing 1 cookie per bag.
The comment from APTI was the most helpful. She is a friend but not that close. I was even shocked when I got an invite to her wedding (cause she was not considered for mine).
I dont think at this late stage I can tell her I cannot do it. I will just have to persuade her to get something else. 250 cookies might not kill me but 750 definately will.
My husband says this is the END of all my volunteering. I have definately learned from this experience. Thanks guys.
I have volunteered to do cookies for several weddings of friends but it is always on my terms. I tell them up front what I am willing to do and what I am not willing to do. You absolutely need very good boundaries or people will walk all over you. I don't think this is always done intentionally it is mostly done out of ignorance. They have no concept of the time it takes to decorate anything but especially that volume. When I did cookies for my niece's wedding it took over 20 hours to do 100 cookies because of the detailed design on the cookies. But I did it for her out of a labor of love and I was the one to pick out the design. It was her gift from me since I couldn't do her cake for her.
Just stay strong. Take lots of pics so that you can use them on your site and learn from this.
God bless - I will be praying for you. That is a lot of work!!!
first of all ...I LOVE YOU GUYS. I did not think I was going to get a response at all. I volunteered because i have NEVER done a wedding before and I was looking to do one before the end of the year. The wedding is on the 26th and there is no way I can not do these cookies for her. What I will suggest to her is doing 1 cookie per bag. She is a friend but not that close. I was even shocked when I got an invite to her wedding (cause she was not considered for mine).
I dont think at this late stage I can tell her I cannot do it. I will just have to persuade her to get something else. 250 cookies might not kill me but 750 definately will.
On behalf of everyone who responded, you are welcome. You'll find that this forum has many, many lovely members who are always helpful!
In response to your statement above, I emphatically do NOT agree: "I dont think at this late stage I can tell her I cannot do it. I will just have to persuade her to get something else. She is a friend but not that close." Even if she were a VERY CLOSE friend, you DO have the option of bowing completely out of this one. It may cause you some personal embarassment, but I think ALL of us here on the forum agree that SHE is the one who should be embarassed to have a casual friend volunteer to make some cookies, then to ask for the retail equivalent of $2,000 worth of favors when that friend volunteered to make "SOME cookies" (NOT 750 DECORATED COOKIES!!!)
Tell her that you, AS A HOME BAKER, do NOT have the equipment necessary for even 250 decorated cookies. I suggest that you offer to make 2 dozen decorated cookies for her and her husband to take on their honeymoon. That way, you can make them now, give them to her now (she can freeze them if she wants, or eat them tomorrow), and you have retained your dignity.
If you do NOT tell her you are unable to make ANY favors, then you will be providing her with 250 packaged, simple, decorated cookies at a retail cost of $750 (and a cost TO YOUR FAMILY of at least $100). You will be taking 2-3 days FROM YOUR FAMILY right before Christmas! It is vastly unappropriate to give this money and time to a casual friend at the direct expense to YOUR family.
And I repeat what I said in my earlier post: Favors are NOT expected by guests, and the lack of cookie favors will have no impact on her wonderful day.
Wow. APTI you tough as hell but I guess it comes with doing this stuff for years. I am brand spanking new at this and I still have a foolish bleeding heart. I have A LOT to learn when it comes to disappointing brides and being smart. I am sure my husband will agree with you totally. Deep in my heart I am still trying to give her what she wants. But that will involve me having NO CHRISTMAS. You are correct.
Absolutely talk to the bride and explain like everyone already stated.."It simply is too large of an undertaking...Tell her what you ar willing to do and if she accepts it then fine..If not...I wouldn't be doing them and I think all bakers here who are small businesses will tell you....Never.never do it for free....I could not afford to do an order like that for free....that is close to $1250.00 for 250 decorated cookies @ $5.00 each packaged....No way...JMO..
I've only been decorating cookies for a year now and that is ridiculous. She is definitely taking advantage of your offer. Also like most people she probably has no clue how much time and money goes into baking cookies. I have done decorated sugar cookies for $5/dzen and I made nothing off of them. Now I charge $1 per cookie and some people think I am crazy for it. They don't realize that detailed cookies take hours sometimes days to decorate correctly.
Besides the fact that 1 cookie per guest is more than enough. At most I would offer to do a monogram on cookies that will be laid out on the cake table like 2 dozen or so and then so a simple *elegant* (brides love elegant) decoration on the rest that would be at their seats. The wedding party will get the highly decorated cookies. Everyone sees your fabulous work and you don't lose out on much money. Time is another matter. But you also get to advertise. I would definitely ask her to provide the bags and boxes.
So yourself a favor and make a 6 day schedule. Day 1: Bake 1/2 the cookies. Day 2 Decorate them...let dry 24 hours or at least overnight. Day 3: Bag and repeat. That way you don't end up spending 4 days/nights straight in the kitchen. Rushing and putting out subpar work. Then regretting the whole ordeal. I've done it enough for everyone in this forum. : ) Hope that helps.
P.S. Most sugar cookies can be frozen before decorating with RI. For up to a month in an airtight container with wax paper between each one. Pull them out let them thaw completely then decorate and let sit at least 24 hours before you package and you should be fine.
KIDDIEKAKES, Thanks for the advice. Trust me when I say, this will be the last thing that I do for free.
I recently spoke to a fellow cake decorator here in Trinidad who told a tale of the parents of the bride coming to her looking all "poor and downtrodden with ropes for belts and torn up slippers on their feet". They begged her to do a cake for their daughter who had gotten pregnant by some "scoundrel". All they had was $800TT (about $120US).
She did the most fantastic 3 tier wonderment for them because she felt sorry for the poor folks. When she delivered the cake to the parents' address it turned out to be a MANSION with pool and front and back porches and the works. The "poverty stricken" parents came out in the finest garments. They had set up this poor girl. What could she do. Break down in tears is what she did and said NEVER again.
So I have learnt NEVER to give my hard earned work away for free ever again. We live, we learn.
Wow. APTI you're tough as hell but I guess it comes with doing this stuff for years. I am brand spanking new at this and I still have a foolish bleeding heart. I have A LOT to learn when it comes to disappointing brides and being smart. I am sure my husband will agree with you totally. Deep in my heart I am still trying to give her what she wants. But that will involve me having NO CHRISTMAS. You are correct.
I have never sold cakes and have only been decorating for 2 years. (Retired, happy hobby baker.) BUT~~~I was in business for 30 years. This has nothing to do with being tough, and EVERYTHING to do with reasonable, good, [business] decisions. If you start out wrong with your baking passion, you will burn out very, very quickly. I've seen many posts to that effect.
It may be hard for you, but make the right decision and say No. You've learned a valuable lesson on this one and have just barely dodged a huge bullet. Temper your desire to please and produce beautiful cakes and cookies with a strong dose of common sense and you'll be just fine!
I hope you have a lovely, relaxed Holiday with your family.
I totally agree - that is a lot to do, for free and for your first time doing such a large order and in a home kitchen.
I just finished making about 150 cookies (as I do every year) for my father to give out and it took LOTS of hours and LOTS of space.
I know it's hard - I'm someone who avoids confrontations like the plague - but you really do need to stand up for yourself and tell her your concerns about time, cost and space for that many cookies. Good luck!
I agree with Apti ,very well said .
Slowly.....very slowly...I am beginning to see how she was perhaps taking advantage of the offer. Even if you know your guest list is 250 persons why would you suggest 750 cookies. You cannot think that that is easy to do. Even if you are not a cake decorator you cannot think that that amount of cookies is a simple request. I am learning alot (as I continue to say).
Slow is much better than never!
So......have you told her NO yet? Not just "No to 750 cookies", but "No to ANY cookies AT ALL?"
What's your hubby saying now that you are starting to understand that she was going to take advantage of you?
(Even the thought of me doing 250 super-simple drop cookies would make me nauseous. I'm finding it is waaaaay easier to do chocolates.)
Apti, I told her that I would do the 250 cookies. They are not sugar or butter cookies but coconut cookies. They are sturdy lil buggers and the cheapest in terms of ingredients. They are something I could make and store. In fact they get better with age. No lie. I did a batch of 150 for a bride already and they did not take long to bake.
I will do the royal icing decorations and store them. I could start this probably today or tomorrow. Even though the wedding is on the 26th I plan to start assembling and packaging the cookies by the 22nd.
I know you will probably disagree but I gave my word. Let's just call it "This once and never again"
Oh and my husband thinks that I should do the 250 cause I gave my word but he now has a strict no volunteer policy. He also wished you were here living with us cause he likes your attitude. lol.
I applaud your decision. It is do-able and allows you to keep your word without sacrificing your family time. Tell your husband he made me laugh out loud! That was funny.
Good luck on your future baking & decorating. You've had quite an introduction to hobby baking AND the CakeCentral forum. Welcome to our cozy little group of fellow sugar crazies!
(and, by the way..........you'll do dumb stuff again......we ALL do. I have a theory that it's too much powdered sugar on the brain!)
i didn't catch...does the bride know she's only getting 250 cookies?
step0nmi, yes she does. I told her that 750 was an outrageous request and she said that 250 will be just fine. I am about to start my royal icing decorations today. lol. I hope they can last till the 26th cause I have no intension of doing them again.
If you feel really guilty about not providing three cookies maybe offer to do one larger sized cookie as a compromise but still - she is seriously inconsiderate to not realize how much of a burden this will be on you no matter what (even if it was 250 tiny monogrammed cookies) - she's not a true friend. She just wants free party favors and you are probably saving her $500 easily by doing this for her
luvmysmoother, we agreed in 250 large cookies. I am working on the decorations as we speak. I do think she was just seeing an opportunity to get something for free. Thanks for the advice.
I SURVIVED. This was the worst experience of my baking life and I would never do this again. It was way too much work and it almost killed me. I came out on the other side stronger for it the experience. Thanks for all the help guys. You are the best.
glad you survived! i'm sure you're glad you did it though...all for the experience