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!
After deciding I would do this if clients were interested, I made a batch of roll-out cookies, cut the dough into eggs, covered them in plain white royal icing, then set up my photo shoot.
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.
I share more details about this and my exact copy in my ebook. You can grab it here for only $19.99 and if you sell just three cookie sets, it pays for itself!
See: 5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Cake Business
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 didn'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:
PYO Cookie Supplies that I'm using and/or recommend:
Paint Your Own Cookie Paint BrushesBuy Now →
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.
If you want more details, I'd encourage you to grab my ebook! I share the exact copy I used on Facebook, tips for photography, printable recipes and instruction cards... ALL in my ebook.
You can grab it here for only $19.99 and if you sell just three cookie sets, it pays for itself!
You’re completely amazing ❤️
Thank you for this help!
Can you use fondant instead of royal icing?
Sure! I'd roll it pretty thin and maybe attach it with buttercream to seal the cookies, but yes, that would work!
Thank you so much for the free info as so many bakers and treat makers are struggling with how to pivot at this time.
You're very welcome!
Hello . Which will be the price of a single PYO cookie ?
ThanK you !
I wouldn't sell them for less than $3-4.
Hi I always looked fwd to see and read your blog, always great advice!! But I have to said it's so GREAT to have everything in one place you Knocked out of the park with this one ,thanks so much
Thank you Maria.
I really so enjoy reading your newsletter and your ideas are brilliant. 🙂
I thank you for all your advise and the sharing of your recipes and ideas. Currently due to the shutdown things are rather quiet and scary. But this is an amazing idea to keep the kids busy while enjoying some yummy biscuits.
Stay safe and keep the brilliant ideas flowing.
Des, Cape Town, SA
You are such a breath of fresh air. Love your inspiration and creativity. I must say, I tried your "drip cake" method using the store bought icing... it worked beautifully and way less expensive. Thanks for the wonderful advice and ideas!
What is the profit on these?
Great questions Jane! I've done some math and updated the post to answer this question!! See the section near the bottom of the post!
This is a great idea. So far all of my April and May weddings have been postponed. I live in MD.
Gina D from Texas
What an awesome idea! So creative!
Great idea for an activity with kids who are stuck at home as well. Replaces their “art” class.
Thank you for this marvelous post! If using black edible markers for drawing basic free hand designs on the white royal iced and dried cookies, would the black marked lines bleed once the wet paint brush with palette colors are applied? Thanks again!
That's a great question - give me a bit and I'll test it and see.
Yes. The black airbrush spray will bleed all over the place. It’s best to do a royal icing swipe. Hold the stencil in place over the cookie(use a Stencil Genie if you have one or magnets around the cookie on a metal cookie sheet) and With piping consistency icing scrape the icing over the stencil to make the image of the stencil on the cookie. Check YouTube for videos. I’ve been going this for nearly 8 years and I know this for sure.
The same goes for the black edible marker.
I disagree - my spray didn't bleed at all. I'm not saying that royal icing isn't a better option, but the spray worked great for me, didn't bleed and was SO much faster than royal icing.
Clever, creative idea for the grandkids! Have you actually ate a cookie with the black edible spray paint stencil and one with the black food edible marker outline? Wondering if they would turn your teeth/tongue/mouth black?
Thanks in advance to your cookie taste testers!
Glad to hear that your hand/wrist is on the mend and your daughter’s beautiful smile is restored!
My kids didn't get any black teeth or mouths. It's so little of it on the cookie.
I made some cookies very similar to these this past week and my clients loved them!
Thank you! You never stop amazing me. May God bless you and yours.
I really appreciate the great ideas and how thorough you are with a break down if costs and of where to find supplies. I really want to give it a try and make some cookie kits. How many 4 cookie kits were you able to make with one batch of your sugar cookie recipe? I’m doing a price breakdown with my supplies etc. thank you! Hope you are feeling better since the surgery. You’re the best!
It really depends on the size, shape and thickness of your cookies. For the egg cookies, I yielded around 2 dozen per batch (or 6 boxes).
I’m not really experienced with making cookies frosted with royal icing... cakes are more my thing but I definitely want to give this a try. Do you pipe on the royal icing and flood it or can I simply dip the top of the cookies into the thinned icing? I’ve tried that last approach once and noticed lots of tiny air bubbles on the cookies and it was difficult to get rid of. Any advice on losing some of those air bubbles? Thank you!
Hello . Which will be the price of a single PYO cookie ?
ThanK you !
I wouldn’t sell them for less than $3-4.
Do you know how the edible pain palettes are made? Are they just using an Edible Ink Printer? How thick is the palette? I'm having trouble sourcing the colours that I'd like to use but wondering if you just use a food printer?
Thanks for your post, it was a great read!
I have no idea how they're made but if you search for "how to make PYO cookie palette", there are some cute options out there.
DANIELLE M MONROE
If you were to ship them, would you wrap each cookie individually for freshness or just as is in the box, also would you ship priority or first class?
I did ship some to cousins and I individually wrapped them, then packaged the cookie boxes inside larger boxes with bubble wrap. I also shipped Priority! They all arrived safely but there was a lot of work involved in the shipping so I personally don't offer it to clients.
Hi Rose! I’m brand new to following you but definitely looking forward to it. Love PYO cookies and I’ll be offering these sets this Easter. I’m wondering what size your eggs were?
This is such a thoughtful and generous post. Thank you for sharing your hard-won cookie wisdom for free!!!
How much meringue powder I would need to purchase if I'm making large batch of icing?
My recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons per batch, so you wouldn't need a huge amount.
Thank you for the information. I'm also wondering, how many days in advance can I bake and package my cookies before the pick up date. I'm afraid if I do it the day before or off I will not have them ready. My pick up date is the 3rd of April 2021
The cookies can be made a few days in advance, covered in icing and stored in airtight containers. If you individually wrap them, you can actually freeze them for a couple of weeks.
Thank you for much, I'm also wondering, can I leave the cookie on the counter over night for the icing to dry? And when do I stencils print my cookie. Right after putting the royal icing or I have wait until the royal icing dry?
Your help in answering these questions is greatly appreciated
You must wait until the royal icing is completely dry before stenciling! I always leave them out overnight.
Ok thank. To store the afternoon stenciling, should I package them and freeze them?
OMG!!!! This is brilliant!!!!!! Can I just buy them from you and you ship them to me????
I did ship some last year 🙂 I haven't listed them for sale for Easter yet this year.
Hi there! This is such a helpful post. Thank you! Quick question - did you find that there was enough paint for four cookies? The site suggests three so I’m just curious.
Did you get an answer? I am also curious!
We painted a few samples and one palette seemed to work fine for 4 cookies. I didn't have any clients complain either.
Definitely doing this for my small home based business. Thank you
Do you add PYO instructions to your bags or boxes?
I do! I cut small cards the same size as the palettes with the instructions printed on them.
How many cookies and size does one paint palette cover? The cookie countess says three but doesn’t give the size!
My egg cookies were approximately 3" tall by 2.5" wide. I didn't have any clients complain that the palettes didn't provide enough paint for the 4 cookies in the box.
How many days in advance can I bake my cookies before packaging it. My pickup day is on the 3rd April 2021. I'm afraid I will run out of time if I bake it the day of pick up. I have so much to make
You can bake and ice the cookies several days ahead (up to a couple of weeks) and store in an airtight container in the freezer!
Hello and thank you so much for all of your expert tips and advice!
What would you suggest the 4 pack PYO be sold for? Is the price the same whether or not they are stenciled? I was thinking of doing 4 packs of stenciled Easter with a six color gel dot color palette. Very similar to what you’ve got up above. Thanks again!
Hey Katherine! I charged $12 last year. I have a lot more details including price breakdown in my ebook, "How to Sell PYO Cookies". You can buy it here --> https://rosebakes.com/how-to-sell-paint-your-cookie-sets-ebook/
Struggling to get a clean, crisp stencil on my cookies with the spray... Any advice?
If you look closely at my pictures, my stencils weren't always super sharp. That's one trade-off for this easier method. The best ones for me were when the stencil was directly on the cookie and I sprayed from directly above.
Thank you so much, I appreciate it. I practiced a bit with it and there's definitely improvement.
How much cookie stencils print can I make using 1 small can of color mist
We used 3 full cans and part of another for 144 cookies. So I'd estimate around 40 cookies per can?!