her bake sale: lessons learned

lessons learned
lessons learned

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm yesterday over Caroline's bake sale.  It sounds like many of you have been inspired to hold a lemonade stand this summer--hooray!  I have some tips and lessons learned (in no particular order) from our whole experience that hopefully will help guide you in organizing something similar.

lessons learned:

  • Keep everything in a simple folder for your child, the organizer.  Caroline's folder included many lists of ideas over the months (from our baking books and library books) of what she was interested in baking for the sale, sample logos of "Bakies" she had drawn, extra flyers, lists of what we still needed to do, and saved receipts from buying our ingredients.  It is a place where your young organizer can be responsible and organized from the get-go.
  • Meet regularly with your child to plan your event.  This is such an enjoyable time.  Caroline and I have spent hours looking through baking book, brainstorming, looking up packaging ideas online, making flyers on the computer, and so on.  Giving yourself all the time to plan an event is worth it.
  • Constantly be aware of the balance of letting it be your child's event and stepping in.  This is really determined with the child's age.  For most of the planning, I was a gentle reminder.  A reminder of what would be important to have on a flyer, a reminder of what categories of things would sell well at a bake sale, a reminder to not sample things in the kitchen while you're making them, and other important experienced-adult reminders.  Then, Caroline could fill in the blanks and own most of the experience.  If it is a large scale event, they will need more of your help.  If it is a small scale event, your child could be responsible for much more.
  • Let them be accountable and responsible.  In a society where we tend to sugar-coat reality for kids, please let them be responsible and accountable for their event.  Caroline was prepared that when the final counting of the money she earned took place, she would be deducting the cost of ingredients and supplies.  She had to do the somewhat difficult task of handing the flyer to all her neighbors in person and promoting her sale.  She was accountable for many things leading up to the sale and the sale itself.  She grew by leaps and bounds from the experience.
lessons learned
lessons learned
  • Be prepared for last minute changes.  Although we had everything planned to the T the week before, circumstances the week/day of called for some changes.  The whole bake sale operation was pushed back against the house an hour into it because of the sun, our chocolate truffles were kept indoors because of the heat, some of our baked goods (like cupcakes) were never made based on lack of time, and so on.  You adjust and do the best you can.
  • Choose the best recipes to bake.  Most of our recipes were tried and true recipes that are family favorites.  We baked them with confidence and our customers loved them.  Definitely important for continued customers!  (Banana Crunch Muffins, Maple Oatmeal Scones, Flourless Chocolate Cookies and our breads were really popular.)
  • Ask for help.  We asked my mother and mother-in-law to bake one of Caroline's favorite cookies that they were experts with to donate to the bake sale.  It was wonderful to have two cookies we didn't have to make.  That left me and Caroline to bake the rest-- quite the undertaking for the two of us.  Next time, we will ask for more help with baking.
lessons learned
lessons learned
  • Have a variety of baked goods.  We had some super indulgent baked goods (Outrageous Walnut Brownies and truffles), some hearty whole grain baked goods (like our muffins and scones), some smaller cookies for kids at 25 cents a piece, some gluten-free cookies, and both white and whole wheat breads.  There was something for the young and older of our customers of different tastes. 
  • Have your kids be involved with the details as well.  It was so important having my two writers make all of the signs and labels.  It made the whole presence of the sale theirs.  All of my children helped fill the baskets with our baked goods and set the long table.  It was thrilling for them.
  • Get all of your children involved, not just the organizer.  My youngest girls, Annabelle, Ainsleigh, and Johanna, knew for some time they were totally in charge of the lemonade stand.  So they kept it up, filled cups, prepped in the kitchen with Daddy, and helped set the table.  Those three were so proud with owning the lemonade stand that they sat at their stand hours before the bake sale begin, just waiting.
  • Create real learning moments about money.  Caroline learned about starting the sale with money to make change (ones, fives, quarters), about pricing items, revenue, and profit.  This was the perfect experience for her to open her own bank account to keep her profit (which was thrilling in and of itself).  And the younger girls learned that their hard work turned into a handful of quarters and crisp dollar bills for their piggy banks.
  • Use what you have.  For decorations and packaging, that is.  We packaged most baked goods with plastic wrap so they could be individual servings, easily picked up and bought.  We repurposed pink shredded paper, pink quilting fabric scraps, and glass jars for holding our fruit from our family fruit bowl.  And we collected a variety of baskets, silver platters, and trays for display from around the house.  No need to spend extra money on presentation although balloons are a must!  They grab everyone's attention and exclaim, "The party is here!"
  • Be prepared to motivate. There were moments the week leading up to the bake sale that a young seven year old needed encouragement, motivation, and support for such an endeavour.  Initially I had envisioned her baking almost everything and running the show on her own with my help.  Those expectations aren't realistic.  Some things she could handle on her own, other things we did together, and others still, I finished on my own.  On our biggest baking days we would bake, she'd ask for a break to scooter, and then she'd come back for the next step.  She needed a motivator and cheerleader to focus so much on such a task.
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I'd love to hear of your experiences with your own sales/lemonade stands.  And feel free to ask any questions to Caroline or myself.

More of Caroline's bake sale:

her bake sale

her big debut

the sleepy time gal