Make money in no time, with sugar, flour and a pinch of preparation.

By Rachael Ray Every Day
November 01, 2005
Bake Sale

Ask Nicely.
If you plan on setting up in a school cafeteria or community hall, get permission about a month ahead. (You'll be glad for the extra time if paperwork or permits are involved.) Also ask whether the venue bans any ingredients; some prefer you not use dairy products or nuts because of spoilage or allergies.

Time It Out.
Start recruiting volunteers a month out, says Pam Abrams, co-author of The Only Bake Sale Cookbook You'll Ever Need: 201 Mouthwatering, Kid-Pleasing Treats. Make a to-do list of tasks, from soliciting donations and making posters to baking and shopping for decorations.

Get Some Help.
Hey, it's for a good cause -- will want to pitch in! As you enlist volunteers, request items to ensure variety. "Feel free to say, 'We're all set with cookies, but cupcakes would be great,'" Abrams says. Let nonbakers know that their skills -- advertising, selling or cleaning -- are just as valuable.

Go to the Pros.
Supplement homemade treats with goodies from local bakeries. In exchange for their donations (which you can price as you wish), post a sign calling out the bakery's name and address. 'Give them a little PR, so it's clear that the bakery is supporting the school," Abrams says.

Don't Forget the Follow Through
Post-sale, when you're a shining example of success, tell your volunteers about it! "They'll be more inclined to help again if they feel their efforts were appreciated and impacted the bottom line," Abrams says.


Sure, advertising has moved from poster board and markers to Facebook and Twitter, but having the kids decorate signs is a no-fail way to get them involved in (and excited about) the event. So, which technique should you use? All of them. Besides, Pam Abrams says, the main purpose of advertising is to remind kids to bring money to school. "There's no need to let potential customers know about the sale more than a week before," she says. On the big day, an attractive table will also help: Throw on a tablecloth and a vase of fresh flowers, and use tiered trays and platters to stack treats at varying heights. Hang signs high to make your station visible from afar.

The number-one bake sale bestseller? Rice Krispies Treats. "There's a nostalgia factor for grownups, and kids think they're cool," says Abrams, who has 23 varieties of the cereal bars in her book. Barbara Grunes, author of The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook, is also a big believer in the appeal of some other classics: chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies and brownies. Regardless, have a plate with small chunks for sampling. Prices should be a little lower than the local bakery's, but not so low that you're making meager profits: Abrams suggests $2 for a generously sized (say, 3-inch square) Rice Krispies Treat or brownie, $1.50 for a giant cookie or nicely decorated cupcake, and $1 for two small cookies or mini cupcakes. End prices in 50 cents or on the dollar to keep things simple, especially if you have kids helping staff the table.