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Sugar Bowl Mix: Tackling a holiday bake sale

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tackling a holiday bake sale

A few weeks ago the girls' school held a photo fundraiser. Parents who are professional photographers donated a day of their time and families got a half-hour professional photo shoot at a very reduced rate. A holiday bake sale was held at the event and of course, yours truly, along with trusted helper, Caroline, volunteered to man the baked goods table.

For the three years before this Caroline was at our local public school, a school with a wonderfully active community and strong fundraising abilities. The old school tackled a lot of bake sales that always sold well.

But the majority of the baked goods at those bake sales were not "baked", per se. They were bought. You know, the big, crunchy, chocolate chip cookies, the hard holiday cookies with hard blue frosting all packaged in the plastic containers that slice your fingers when you try to pry them open. And not that yummy, people. There was always a lot of pizza. A little greasy. A little soggy. Not yummy.

At one bake sale I worked the woman in charge arrived five minutes after it was due to open and unloaded one plastic grocery bag of junk food after the next onto the bake sale table. I was actually embarrassed to even ask the kids to pay for the junk: chewy doughnuts, rubbery muffins, stale pound cake. It was bad, people.

So imagine my delight when I showed up with my red velvet cupcakes at the new school's bake sale a few weeks ago and found only home baked goods, all beautifully presented with a list of ingredients displayed in front. Nothing was stale, hard or chewy if it wasn't supposed to be (although the chocolate chip cookies were a little burned!).

There were creative concoctions like the chocolate pudding poppers: a little container of chocolate pudding, with a small dollop of whipped cream and a candy cane.

There were lavender shortbread stars.

There were chocolate chip cookies.

There were sugar bell, tree and snowman cookies. Popular items.

And the most popular item of all? Chocolate chip snowman cupcakes. Decorate with eyes and a nose and the kids will buy!

This bake sale was held at a public school - an art charter so maybe there are more crafty, baking types in the parent body. But it gave me hope. Hope that bake sales can be elegant, delightful, greasy-pizza-free and stale-cookie-free.

Hope that bake sales can be more like I remember my own childhood bake sales.

And still make money.

How do you tackle bake sales at your schools? Do you bake? Do you buy and then repackage as home baked (come on, fess up, we've all done it!).

Or do you simply come to them as buyers? What do you think bake sales should be like?

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This post is participating in Tackling Tuesday over at 5minutesformom.

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