How Do You Tell Family Members No...long Sorry

Decorating By shelly-101 Updated 22 Jan 2009 , 7:50pm by eldag0615

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shelly-101 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:19pm
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I am just a hobbiest caker so i only do cakes for friends and family and usually end up paying for all supplies but most of the time i don't mind because that is the gift from me but now it seems like every time any of my family members need a cake for any event i get asked to do the cake but they are just expecting them for free and it is reallly starting to get expensive. my older sister called me the other day asked me to make a cake for 100 people for some bmx bikeing thing that her and her husband are going to but it is on the same day that i offerd to do my best friends baby shower cake and there is no way that i could do both because i have a job a husband and twins turning 3 next month.

Not only that i don't think they are very apperactive of the cakes that i do for them for free any way, a friend told me that my younger sister said that i never get her kids birthday gifts......WHAT....hello the cake that i paid for and spent two days making... any way i guess this is a question and a vent all in one.

52 replies
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shelly-101 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:44pm
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Any one

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sweetbn Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:54pm
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I would tell them I have committed to another cake for the same date so I will not be able to do theirs. There are other threads you can search for that deal with this same issue and give lots of good advice. Good luck. icon_smile.gif

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amysue99 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:55pm
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I understand that it's hard to turn down requests from family. However, it is something that has to be done and the sooner you start, the better. In this case, you just have to tell the truth. Tell her you already have a cake for that weekend and that you don't feel that you can accommodate such a large order on an already full week.

As for the appreciation, sometimes the only way to help people appreciate a priviledge is to let them live without it for a while.

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TOMAY Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:55pm
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Do like I do provide a list of materials and say I would love to do the cake i need the following to do it. Make sure you add things you want and need for the cake you may not need fondant tools for the design but ask for them anyway. I ask for sugar , flour , eggs , ect for what I need for the cake and the next cake I do .

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kayla1505 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:55pm
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be very firm and tell them your sorry but NO, you dont have the time or the money to do it . and dont let her guilt trip you into doing it.

its hard to say no to family members but when they start abuseing, you have to draw the line. Or they will walk all over you.

hope it helps

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LauraLanier Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:56pm
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I know how you feel icon_sad.gif If they would just offer to pay for the supplies that would be great. If I can't do it they will go to walmart and pay them, so whats the difference in paying me for supplies. Wish I knew the answer to that one.

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ThatsHowTcakesRolls Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:57pm
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Well - it sounds to me like you need to let your sister know that if she would like to continue being so unappreciative of the gift of cake you give for each birthday then she can find her own from now on. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for you in this situation. Family can be a blessing and nightmare all at the same time, right? =o)

Seriously though - it sounds like you just need to put things into perspective for them. I'm sure, as I had no clue before I started, that they have no idea how much the materials cost and how quickly it adds up and that's not including your time! At the very least, they may offer to reimburse you for some of the expense or hopefully they will be more thankful. I've really found that honesty and a straight forward attitude really go a long way. And, if they don't appreciate after you have this talk with them, you'll feel better when you deny their request in the future!! lol Good Luck!


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lane52403 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 8:57pm
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Maybe let them know that it takes way too long and is too expensive to do it for free anymore. Depending on who it is in your family, you could charge some of them just for supplies and add a little bit for your trouble to others. Make sure you are charging enough to pay for a nice dinner out of the house and a babysitter. thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif I've only made cakes for my family and a few friends of my sisters. I've never had to ask for the friends of my sister's to pay me. They always ask up front.

BTW- I think I've found that when they do ask me how much, when I say "Oh...whatever is fine. Whatever you think", they tend to pay me more that I would have asked for. icon_wink.gificon_wink.gificon_wink.gif

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CakeDiva73 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:00pm
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You have to be strong and firm... " I can no longer afford to do cakes for free". And then hand them a price sheet for future reference and stick to it. (Be sure to date this if you do, Spring 2009, etc.)

If I do a huge cake for a friend for free (it was for a baby shower) that was my gift to them. End of discussion. When the childs one year b-day came around, they called, not expecting it for free but I was the one who felt uncomfortable explaining that I had to charge for it. A sculpted 3-D Fire Engine for $50 was a huuuuuuge discount but I adore them so I didn't care. (In that case, I did bring a gift)

Ungrateful relatives can kiss my foot, however. You are going to have to put your foot down, lol. (after they kiss it, of course! icon_lol.gif )

I would be LIVID if my sister called for a 100 person cake for some random offer of money, like it was nothing??? I would hit the flippin' roof!

But then again I get irrationally pissed when I sense other people don't value my time or craft and tend to respond accordingly....that said, if you have been providing these cakes all along, they will never get the picture until you speak up. I know it can be intimidating but you can do it.

Oh - I almost forgot, I am serious about the price list. Sit down and figure out some base prices for different sizes of cakes - you don't necessarily need to hand it to them but if you try to price by the seat of your pants, you will end up regretting it.

I found that as soon as I put prices on my website and handed out my cards with the address, I just advised people to look on the site and see what they liked, knowing full well that the price list was there. So If they came back and said "How much would it be for a blah-blah-blah" I could respond with "Hold on a minutes and let me check the website" - or my pricelist or whatever, icon_smile.gif you get my drift. Basically saying, what you saw is what you are going to pay. Because I do think people take full advantage of trying to pin you down to a price on the spot.

I have really kicked myself for horribly undercutting myself by not taking some time to come up with a quote and just the other day had my daughters friends' Mom approach me about making the Oreo Snowmen (which I turn into pops, wrapped & with ribbon; i.e. extremely time consuming) and I just knew I was going to end up only getting $1 or so for them so I told her to give me a day.....went home, put on the 'big girl panties' Indy Deb talks about icon_smile.gif and told her $1.50. Worked out great so now I try to force myself to do this.

Cripes, I wrote a novel...... sorry! icon_redface.gif

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Tallulah Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:05pm
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Welcome to the world of cake decorating!

We have all gone through this at one time or another, I'm sad to say. At some point you have to stand your ground and give a firm, but nice (or nasty if you prefer) "NO!"

Friends and family have no idea how long it takes from executing an idea to the actual finishing of a cake, nor are they aware of how much a cake actually costs.

Your cakes are awesome, by the way. For your younger sister to say you never get her kids birthday gifts and get them cake is completely insensitive of your efforts.

Stand your ground and give them the "flour, eggs and sugar ain't free, honey"!

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christmaspixie Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:08pm
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I recently went through a similar situation so I feel your pain! I mentioned that my 3 year old daughter really wanted to give an actual gift that could be unwrapped and that I would feel more comfortable getting paid for the cake and buying a gift instead. She was just fine with paying for the cake. I figured that if she wasn't she could go buy it some place else. I think that talking with her about this after the 1st free cake was better than letting it go and making several for free. I think that this arrangement will prevent awkwardness and hurt feelings.

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eldag0615 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:10pm
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They don't appreciate it because it does not cost them anything! Not even the gas to go to your house and ask you face to face icon_mad.gif , they just pick up the phone because THEY are busy, their time is important, not yours,,(that is obviously what they think, otherwise they would at least acknowledge your precious gifts. Besides, they don't think you gave them a gift? If there is a next time, and I certainly hope not, attach a tag with the price of the cake, so the mother of the B-day child can give her child that amount, if she does not, then the gift went to HER, she saved herself some money by not buying the cake tapedshut.gif . UNLESS she or you explain to the b-day child that the cake IS his/her present, and you took time from your family to do it, and you did it because you love them and wanted to have a beautiful and special cake otherwise they would not have. Sorry if I am exagerating, I am really mad. Now someone posted here, don't remember who, but I agree: If I offer it, its free, if they ask, they pay! Just say NO, with a smile in your face, you are busy that day,and that's it. And next time they expect a free cake, ask them flat out, but smiling, I MIGHT be able to donate my time, but what makes you think that I should pay for the ingredients too? Is it my party?,Don't be shy, they are not. Then if you are still willing to make the cake, sit down with them and take the "order", how many servings, shape, etc, make a list of ALL the ingredients needed, if you need 6 or 8 eggs, write down a dozen, they don't sell you 8 eggs at the store, at least not here, hand her the list and say that you have something else to do with your twins, and to get you ALL the ingredients with plenty of time for you to work on the cake and decorations. Another great idea is to say: Yes, I will gladly donate my time to make your cake, hand them the list, and add: But I don't have a babysitter for my twins, and YOU would have to come to MY home and take care of them in the meantime I decorate your cake, and smile icon_twisted.gif We love decorating cakes, but when you start to feel like is a burden to make one and dread the next "order", it is time to stop. Not making cakes, stop the abuse against you and your family. Sorry if I offended anyone here. Elda

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1nanette Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:10pm
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Back in my early days of cake I made family cakes for nothing. My cousin with 3 kids always asked for a cake instead of a gift. Which BTW costs more than a gift would but whatever. Once she waited until the week before a birthday to ask for a cake but I was committed to someone else and didnt have time to shop for her cake. I gave a grocery list and supply store list and told her to drop everything at my house when she was finished. After many phone calls, lots of driving and a couple of tips back to get what she had forgotten not to mention all the money she spent, she finally realized what it took to make a pretty cake.

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shelly-101 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:14pm
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Thank you ladies for all of the advice i will try to grow a pair and so no..I just hate poeple being mad at me.

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ziggytarheel Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:23pm
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I have always liked the idea of telling them that if you can clear x number of hours from your schedule, you would be happy to make the long as they will buy everything you need to make it.

And then make them a complete list of items that you need, down to salt and any equipment needed.

I think they might understand better then, after they paid $75 for ingredients and were told upfront it would take you...15 hours to create.

Or..whatever. icon_smile.gif

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shiney Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:24pm
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Shelly, I looked at your photos, and Girlfriend, you are 'giving' your beautiful work away??!! I'm with the rest, let them know each time that you are busy with a paying project that day. Or, when they ask, say, "Oh, how about I do that for Little Jimmy's birthday (graduation, etc) gift" I feel just the opposite, I figure everyone in my life is sick to death of cookies at every occasion (but they are too nice to say so, and they gobble up every lasts one!)

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Tallulah Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:32pm
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shelly101 - I completely understand not wanting people mad at you, but they are taking complete advantage of you.

I stopped baking for free long ago. DH used to offer my services to people because they were "cool". That ended when I told him "cool" does not pay for Valrhona and "cool" does not pay for labor. I've never seen him pull a 16 hour shift for free and I don't expect to either. End of discussion.

There are people out there who expect the best of everything, yet are demand bargain prices or even free cake. I have baked for people who make WELL over six figures and don't want to pay over $150 for a three tiered cake. Never mind that it can take over 48 hours to finish a cake.

Stand your ground. You will be much happier once you do.

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terrylee Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:33pm
post #19 of 53

I guess I have been very lucky or blessed - When I have done a cake for family members, they have always offered to pay. Sometimes depending on the size I will ask for just the materials. usually wedding cakes are my GIFT and they all appreciate that. Birthdays - usually adults, it's the gift. Little ones I get a gift for them (they don't get the "cake is your gift" thing)

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mommyle Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:35pm
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I will include an excel sheet here with what your COST is to make a cake. Some of the costs are a bit out dated, since the latest financial crunch, but it gives you a good idea of how much it costs to make a cake. E-mail me with any questions.

You make a cake as a gift for a "normal" birthday party. that is up to 20 servings. That is a NORMAL cake. Beyond that, whip out the spreadsheet and tell them what the COST is for the cake and how many hours it will take you (at least 3 hours per tier, including baking time, and decorating time. Start valuing yourself and they will value you too. And the next time the witchy one calls and asks about a celebration cake, tell her that you were planning on just giving a gift, and go and get a $20 gift card from Wal-Mart.

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Tita9499 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:38pm
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My DH gets irate when he finds out I do a cake for free, he figures people should pay at least for the ingredients. So just to keep the peace in the house, I ask for that much.
HOWEVER, your family member isn't asking for a cake for a dying relatives' last wish, they're asking for a cake for a BMX thingy! That's ridiculous. So many random people will be there, she can make a bundt cake and no one would even care.
I understand how time consuming life with twins can be, mine turned three last July (get ready for fun times! LOL!). But obviously your family member doesn't. WHy should you be concerned with hurting people's feelings when they don't concern themselves with the fact that you may just have a life outside of catering to their cake cravings?
Tell her you've already committed to something else that day and that it sucks to be her (well the last part is optional, but you get my drift).

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eldag0615 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:39pm
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If they are mad at you because you don't let them step all over you, so be it. They will keep doing it until you let them. Now, if they can't afford a cake, don't make the party! or make it without a cake. I insist, the nerve of some people to expect others to pay for their "luxuries", because it is. I think is Indydebbie who gave the definition of luxury, in my own words: is something that you don't need, but you still want it. They can make without an expensive cake. Some of my family members love my cakes, and I used to give them as a present for my nieces and nephews too, til I got tired and charge them with a discount obviously, and with that money I would buy them a "real" present. They still think my price is expensive, so they just go to Sams and buy the cake there. Last month, they made a party for my nephew at McDonalds, they gave everybody a combo, there were at least 60 people in all, I was so tempted to take a cake, and when I talked to my cousin, there was that "Big elephant in the room" thing, me waiting for her to ask for the cake and her waiting for me to offer it, but I resisted, thanked her for the invitation, and just took a present. She got cupcakes from Sams, I didn't even tasted them, she did not buy enough for everybody. My family NOW knows this: the only way my children can have a nice cake is if I make it, there is no way I can afford to buy them.
Stick to your guns and they will understand with time and will start appreciating your work. God help you.

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Rosie2 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 9:52pm
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Thank you for starting this thread because I'm exactly in the same 'boat' you are icon_eek.gificon_eek.gif I'm a begginer and I only do cakes for fun and only for family and close friends. However, I've spend a fortune in tools and gadgets, but I figured (just like you) those are gifts 'from me - to me.'
I don't have small children and I can imagine what you go through to make cakes and care for your family at the same time...
There is very good advice here and I will do my best to follow next time someone ask me for a cake. And, let me share with you what happened last year...I also make cookies. I've practice enough to say that my cookies are kind of cute icon_biggrin.gif well, a good friend of mine last year said that her 8yr old girl really wanted some of my cookies for her I thought 'cool I could give her some as a b-day gift---well, to make a long story short the little girl first wanted 40 cookies--I agreed. Then she changed to 60 cookies---I agreed. Then she said she 'needed' 150 cookies for all her friends in school....yikes!!! I made her 75 cookies for free, and have NOT accepted another order since then
Moral of the stuff is NOT appreciated.

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Rosie2 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 10:00pm
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Originally Posted by Tita9499

My DH gets irate when he finds out I do a cake for free, he figures people should pay at least for the ingredients.

My daughter also get soooo mad when she knows I'm doing a cake or cookies for free...but, honestly since I'm not a professional I took the orders as practice....and yes I can say my cakes are delicious but they are NOT perfectly decorated icon_redface.gif

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eldag0615 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 10:17pm
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Rosy your cakes are beautiful, don't underestimate your work, and the c ookies look great! And Shelly I just saw your pics. and Now I understand why they want your cakes.

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shelly-101 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 10:38pm
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Thank you eldag0615 i try icon_smile.gif . and rosy i think your cakes are great thumbs_up.gif

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Rosie2 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 11:25pm
post #27 of 53

Thank you Elda and Shelly!!!

And Shelly, time to wear our 'big girl pants' from now on!! icon_smile.gifthumbs_up.gif

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Rosie2 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 11:29pm
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Originally Posted by mommyle

I will include an excel sheet here with what your COST is to make a cake.

Thank you Mommyle, you're awesome!!! this is exactly what I needed to figure out how much it cost to make free cakes!!

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Deb_ Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 11:48pm
post #29 of 53
Originally Posted by shelly101

I just hate poeple being mad at me.

But don't you see that you are the one feeling mad and hurt at them? How is that better than them being mad at you? I think you need to set them all straight and eliminate the bad feelings on both sides. They're obviously too clueless to know how much this is bothering you.

Also, whoever told you that your sister complains because you never "buy" her kids Birthday gifts, is not a very nice person in my opinion and is only trying to hurt your feelings. Why would anyone tell you that........ugh!!!

It sounds like you are a very sweet person and people are taking advantage of you. It's hard to change their behavior, but you can change the way you do things.

If you don't feel comfortable speaking face to face about money, send an e-mail to all of them explaining that although you have provided them with cakes in the past for free, you simply cannot afford to do it any longer. Than attach the "cost of a cake" chart that the above poster provided. Explain that you will donate your time when you can, but they will need to pay for the ingredients.

Good luck icon_smile.gif

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mommyle Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 12:11am
post #30 of 53
Originally Posted by dkelly27


Also, whoever told you that your sister complains because you never "buy" her kids Birthday gifts, is not a very nice person in my opinion and is only trying to hurt your feelings. Why would anyone tell you that........ugh!!!


Ok. I admit. I would tell. But only because I think that the sister is an ingrate and she needs to know that her efforts are being wasted and she could probably find better things to do than try to make such a spoiled ingrate happy. icon_twisted.gif

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