Back in 2009, when our first kiddo was born, Amy was part of a “Moms Group” that frequently got together to chat and swap motherhood stories. Right before their first Christmas, Amy decided to get everyone together and have a little “cookie decorating party” with their kids. Amy had pre-baked the cookies, and all the moms brought in their decorating supplies, frosting, etc. They spent the day decorating cookies, and took photos with the kids both during the event and with the finished cookies. It ended up being a lot more fun than they expected! They quickly decided it was an event worth repeating the next year. The next year some of the moms brought their other friends along for the event. The annual event was supported by the moms bringing in supplies and they would all chip in for the cost of the cookies. Word of the cookie decorating event continued to spread each year. Eventually we started to run out of room holding the event at our home!
In 2014 we partnered with a local church, The CORE, in downtown Appleton. Amy was still baking all the cookies before the event, but not without help! Thankfully her mom had previously been in the wedding cake business, and she still had a couple convection ovens that could help speed the baking process. A small group of friends and family helped set up at The CORE, and we started advertising the event. That was the first year we officially opened to the public. However, by that point word had spread enough that new people were coming from all over the Fox Cities area. Even when some families moved away; they still would come back each year for the cookie decorating event.
As the event grew larger year after year, so did the amount of time and effort it took to get everything ready. We started getting volunteers to help with the baking. Then a group of our friends decided to jump in and help “run” the event. We had people helping with setting up tables, organizing decorating supplies, and generally doing whatever needed to get done. Rather than a small family run event…. It had become a community unto itself.
The event consistently generated enough money from the free-will offering to more than cover the cost. In previous years the extra money just went to pre-purchase supplies for the next year. However, the growing community that supported this event started to even surpass that humble goal. We decided that we were going to start picking a charity each year to donate the extra funds to a worthy cause. Over the years we’ve donated to Kaleidoscope Academy, a cancer survivor, and Rawhide Boys Ranch.
For our 9th annual event (2018) we even have an organized committee of volunteers! We have people who are handling marketing and spreading the word, organizing volunteers, baking, securing donations, designing a website, and then everyone who will be there on the day of the event to make it all happen. We started with the humble beginnings of a few moms getting together to decorate cookies. This year we’re planning over 5,000 cookies being decorated by hundreds of people! The Cookie Decorating Event has been a passion project of Amy’s for over a decade, and we look forward to many more events to come.