Today I have some ideas for How to Sell Paint Your Own (PYO) Cookie Sets (no cookie decorating required!) and make some extra income while following all the rules! You don't even have to decorate the cookies!
These are perfect for kids stuck at home who can't go to school, have parties, or go out and be with friends. You can ship them to customers or arrange some kind of no-contact pickup or delivery (drop them off on their porch).
UPDATE: This blog post was so popular that I have expanded it into a 30+ page ebook loaded with details on how you can sell PYO cookies and earn extra money. The ebook includes my recipes and printable instruction cards! Check out the ebook here.
Other posts that might help your business:
- How to Handle Cake Cancelations during Crisis
- Indian Fry Bread (an easy quickbread - great for tacos!)
- How to Build a Business Savings Account
- Instant Pot Black-Eyed Peas (this has been popular since the virus outbreak)
- Bored? Read my new book, Cake Decorating for Beginners for FREE.
How to Sell Paint Your Own (PYO) Cookie Sets
First, let me say. you do not have to be a cookie decorator to sell these cookie sets. You will be selling plain white cookies that kids can freehand paint and/or stenciled cookies for them to paint. Neither of those options requires any cookie decorating skills.
So when the pandemic started, I had lots of lingering orders being pushed back indefinitely and I started trying to think of a way to boost income. Holidays are always big opportunities for home bakers, but obviously, most people weren't going to be having big Easter parties or celebrations.
Then it hit me. The year before, I had bought Easter cookie stencils and edible paint palettes with the intent of selling paint-your-own (PYO, for future reference) cookie sets for Easter.
But I got busy with other projects and ended up not doing it. So when the idea occurred to me, I found all of those supplies I'd purchased before and was relieved to see it they were all still usable.
Perfect for Easter & Quarantining!
I thought these would be perfect for kids for Easter! Everyone had to miss out on the big Easter Egg Hunts and church activities, but they could have a cookie painting party at home with their families.
This was a unique activity that might break up the boredom and bring a little more joy to Easter. And they were a delicious, consumable treat that won't add clutter to any home.
Another great aspect - you could schedule clients to pick them up in a no-contact manner from your home or make front-porch deliveries without having to come into contact with other people.
With USPS Click-N-Ship, you could even them to clients who don't want to pick up or who aren't in your local area. Win-Win-Win!
Let me insert here though - this idea is not limited to Easter OR limited to a time of crisis! I have since discovered that my clients LOVE paint-your-own cookies for so many events and holidays... pandemic or not!
If not for Easter, use round or square or rectangle cookie cutters and do Spring cookies. Or St. Patricks' Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's... or birthday party favors! The skiy is the limit!
You can buy stencils that will work for any occasion (there are pages and pages of them!).
Don't have time to order stencils? Or worried about the difficulty of using them? I have suggestions for that too - keep reading!
Take photos for advertising.
I posted some of my photos immediately on my personal profile and asked if anyone was interested. I got more than 20 replies in one night.
Your photos don't have to be fancy - just pretty and representative of what you intend to sell. Plus maybe some partially painted cookies as an example of what clients (or their kids) can do with them.
Make a plan to sell cookie sets!
So then I needed to make a plan. I priced out all of my supplies, estimated my labor time and set my price. Then I posted on Facebook with all the details and began taking orders.
Within an hour, I had 30 orders. Before long I had 55 orders and had to stop adding names to my list because I did't have the supplies to do more than that on-hand.
All of this is assuming you either already have ingredients on hand or can shop for them or have them delivered. I buy most of my baking supplies in bulk so I had a pretty good stash already on hand.
So here are the supplies I recommend:
The exact supplies I'm using:
- These boxes from BRP Box Shop.
- Paper Shred from Amazon
- Resealable bags from Amazon (for the palette and paintbrushes - not pictured because they're on the way to me now).
- Palettes from The Cookie Countess (there are shipping delays) but you can order them from Etsy or CountryKitchenSA.com - just check shipping times.
- Stencils from The Cookie Countess - again, their website says shipping is slow and you may not get supplies from there in time for Easter. Amazon has a lot of PYO Cookie Stencils that will probably come faster. Even better if you order from a business account.
- Paintbrushes from The Cookie Countess and Etsy here.
Here's how to Sell Paint-Your-Own Cookie Sets:
- Make some samples and photograph them.
- Decided on all the supplies you will need, see if you can get them, and set a price.
- I recommend pre-selling so you don't end up making sets and people bailing out on buying them.
- Keep a spreadsheet of your orders.
Possible Obstacles and Solutions to Selling PYO Cookie Sets:
What if I have no experience stenciling cookies? ME EITHER!! Instead of doing black royal icing and spreading it over the stencils and trying to hold them still and not smear and blah, blah, blah, I just used Black Wilton Color Mist and it took about 3 seconds per cookie! I laid the stencil on the cookie, sprayed, move on to the next one. Easy-Peasy!!
It's not quite as clean and pretty as doing it the "right" way, but it's fast, cheap and easy. And kids won't care 😉
What if I don't have time to get the palettes? Make an extra cookie and make your own paint palette! Cover it with white just as you would a regular cookie, then paint on small dots of food coloring or airbrush coloring. They will take some time to dry, but after that, they'll work just like the premade palettes.
- We painted on regular Americolor gel coloring and let it dry overnight.
- Here's how to make with airbrush coloring.
- A video showing how to make raised dots with royal icing.
What if I can't get stencils? Sell blank cookies and encourage them to let the kids make their own designs. Or include a mini black food marker (if you can get them) and they can draw their own designs before painting.
Or use black food markers to draw on your own designs. This will take a little longer but is not impossible.
You could even make your own stencils with cardstock or flexible plastic and a Xacto blade.
What if I don't have boxes? Get creative! Do you have cookie bags? Or can you get them? Sell them individually instead of in sets. You could even sell these in Ziploc bags if needed. They wouldn't be as pretty or professional looking but I doubt the parents or kids would mind under the circumstances.
What are the profits?
This is an update/addition after my original post. Someone in the comments asked about the profit on these so I wanted to give you a quick rundown on that.
Not counting the cookies, the supplies were less than $2 per box (that's the brush, palette, pink box, and paper shred). Just keep in mind that I bought in bulk and that's NOT accounting for the stencils.
I can do an entire batch of cookies for less than $8 in ingredients including the icing and the black spray, so a box of 4 cookies would cost me $1.28 in ingredients. But that's not the big cost of cookies. The big cost of cookies is TIME.
If you're keeping count, we are now at $3.28 in cost ($2 per box for supplies + $1.38 in ingredients).
Now, because of my surgery, I can't do the cookies myself. I'm paying my daughter... so I have to account for her hourly work but I figured I'm still keeping my cost to no more than $4 per box.
By these figures - I'm profiting approximately $8 per box.
If you also want to take into account the stencils, they were around $6 each and I used 4 patterns for my boxes. So $24 invested. So you'd have to sell a minimum of 3 boxes to break even and cover all expenses.
But obviously, the stencils can be used year after year and if you can make your own, find them cheaper, sell blank cookies, etc., you can reduce that investment and earn more profit.
Quickly learning How to Sell Paint Your Own (PYO) Cookie Sets is an excellent way to boost your income in the midst of a lot of cake cancelations and delays.
If your business is struggling now, or ever, the key to success is innovation and creativity - changing when needed and not giving up! If you need to make some quick money - think outside the box of what you normally do.