How to Design Cookie Decorating Lessons?

I have been asked to set up classes to teach how to decorate cookies. I would like to know about your experiences and suggestions in creating these classes. I have so many questions! I plan to teach lessons for beginners, what  are some suitable topics or projects? I will be teaching in my home in the dining room. How do I set up? What advice can you give me for organizing the materials at the table? Do you ask students to bring some materials? Are there any reference materials you like best? 

Original Post

Ooh, lots of good questions.

 

Wrt the first, what are suitable topics or subjects? I recommend that you answer this question by asking yourself to identify YOUR greatest areas of expertise, and then build a class around those techniques or types of cookies. Another consideration is whether to give a technique-only or project-based class. If the latter, it also has to include enough technique-based instruction to allow students to be successful with the projects. If this is truly a beginning class for beginners, then you - of course - need to talk about the icing you use, how you mix it, the various consistency adjustments needed for various tasks, and the basics of outlining, flooding and wet on wet. These are the core foundations. From there, distinguish YOUR classes by doing what YOU do best.

 

I could expound for paragraphs on the other questions as well, but will wait for others to chime in first.

The time depends specifically on what you're teaching and how much you're prepared to prep by yourself in advance. I've done classes as short as 1 1/2 hours and as long as 2 days. With my very involved 3-D projects, I almost always need 2 days if the host venue cannot ice cookies in advance, as many need completely dry topcoats in order to be detailed and assembled.

 

Start by defining what you are expert enough to teach and what you think students want to learn. The convergence of these two things should define the content. The content needs to be defined before you can establish how long the class will take. Then break down the steps to make them. Ask yourself how long it would take you to make those things if uninterrupted; then maybe double that time for students. You will easily spend one third to one half of any class demoing techniques before students can work on their own.

I was asked to do a cookie decorating class for our local recreation department.  The class was for the 8 to 13 age group. After giving it much thought I said no because I didn't want to send them home with wet cookies and it was only a one time 1 1/2 hour class.  I have instead done several cupcake decorating classes.  I think that's the biggest challenge you'll have unless you use an dryer, but make sure you factor in that time as well.  And Julie is correct, you will be spending most of the time assisting the others.  Make sure you have an assistant to help you with the non decorating tasks, like washing up, or filling piping bags, etc. I've found that very helpful. 

I have also been approached to teach locally( in Greece) and will have my first private student after Easter. I am really excited. It will take allot of prep but then that will be ready for the next time. I know I am asking peanuts but I need to start somewhere and move forward. I will stay on a narrow path of those things that I am sure of and good at. 

Love reading anything you have to offer on the subject!

Thank you once again Julia for sharing your experience and knowledge.

after Tina's post I have been thinking that working with just one or two students is better way to start. I have some friends who I introduced to the sugar cookie decorating and I taught them all I knew and then went on learning from each other. It was very casual classes, what was needed was done on the spot and the time frame was open, and of course no charge. So the idea of keep it small I terms of number of students feels very good to me. I am thinking if coming up with a simple but showy small project that could be put together in 3 to 4 hours. julias book has lots of great project that I can get inspiration from. Thank you all. This is really helping me organize what I want and can do.  Another question   : how much to charge. I know to consider materials how about my time I need to charge more than minimum wage but how much? Any suggestions

Hi Nancy- I just started my "cookie workshops" in February of this year.  My very first class had 13 women.  I have found that 8 is a good number and that if you can get a friend to help you during the class it is very helpful.  I am not sure if it is appropriate to give out my website but there are lots of pictures of these events there.

I did 2 in Feb, 2 in March, and 2 in April.  I plan to do them every month.  I also do free classes for children aged 5-14- monthly at the local Farmers Market.  I don't really want to have kids in my home classes so I offer it free at the Market and that seems to make everyone happy. It also gives me free marketing for paid classes. Another way I attract students is that I give free demos at my local Williams-Sonoma.  I use their mixer to show how to make royal icing and I bring my own cookies and color.  I give some examples and then they make it their own.

For the in- home classes, I provide 6 cookies to decorate and all the supplies. I am still tweaking things, but I have been using the following supplies:

-kraft (light brown) shirt boxes I bought at a local box supply, I buy 100 at a time and they cost .48 each- I line them with some white waxed paper sheets to absorb the oils

-a 1/4 sheet cake board for them to ice the cookies on before transferring to the box to dry

-a recipe for royal icing, a regular and chocolate cookie recipe (I always make both for the class)

- parchment for them to decorate on. 

-Icing spatulas, skewers to show marbling techniques

I make it more like a party- so I decorate the table according to the season, and I lay out example cookies for them to get inspiration. I put all the sprinkles and sugars in heart shaped ramekins with mini spoons in them.  At first I just used them in the bottles, but it looks so much prettier this way. 

I encourage them to bring some wine if they want and I provide a light lunch if its from 10 AM- 1 PM class or light appetizers other times.  I always do 3  in one week when I do them because it's easier when you already have it all ready.  I do Sunday 2-5 pm, Monday 10-1 pm and Wednesday  6:30-8:30 pm.

 

The first 2 I charge 30.00 per person; in March I increased to 45.00. As soon as I get a following I will up it to 60.00 for awhile.  I have already have ladies that come to each series.  May I am doing Mothers Day cookies.  

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Laura I had a catering and dinners to go business for 12 years and many of my attendees have been clients of mine.  I send out emails through a program called Constant Contact when I post new classes on my website.  Even with all that, it takes awhile to build a following. That is why I am doing the free demos at high profile locations until my classes fill up every time.  

Thank you cookie crafter for sharing your experience. I am hanging on to each word. Very very helpful. in a way it is project based  and I imagine that with each project you introduce a technique or two. Do you have a steady group or each time you have different people?

love the idea of teaching kids to decorate cookies at the farmers market both because I love to work with and as a great way to advertise the classes. Thanks so very much!

You are welcome!  I love talking about cookies and I am still not a pro at them, but good enough to teach classes. My focus is showing people who know nothing about decorating and get them hooked so they return and bring their friends. So far so good.  I like teaching them at my house because I have the perfect set up and I can provide wine and appetizers too.  Good luck with your plans!

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Paula MurthaTina at Sugar WishesJeanna @ Truffle Pop ShoppeMichelle west SionWillow Tree CookiesJakeannaCookie CrafterMily
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