Monday, March 28, 2011

Simple programming for all ages: cupcakes!

Last week was spring break here, and we offered a program every day for area youth. Perhaps my favorite was the easiest program: cupcakes! This program works for all ages, and it is incredibly easy to replicate.

My program was inspired by one of my favorite books:

And named after one of the fun Austin food trucks I used to walk past going to UT regularly:

The idea was to offer the supplies for people to come in and make their own fantasy cupcakes. I offered no instructions. Instead, I laid out a wealth of supplies and let them have at it. Their own imaginations were enough fuel!

First up, purchase a supply of undecorated cupcakes. You can make them yourself, though cost-wise, it's probably about the same to have them made by a local bakery than to do them yourself. There's also the cost of free time if you do it yourself. For 150 cupcakes, my local bakery (located in a grocery store) said they would charge me .40 each cupcake. $60 for 150 cupcakes sounded great to me. But I got luckier: they only charged me $40.

I laid out the cupcakes -- chocolate and white -- at the head table and then set up two separate rows of tables. The first looked like this:

Chocolate, strawberry, lemon, buttercream, and vanilla frosting cans were laid out, along with plastic knives. Cost was about $20 for that plus some sprinkles. But we didn't buy many toppings since our staff kitchen was flush with cool topping items from gingerbread house making in December and other events. This was a nice time to clean house a bit.

So my second rows of tables looked like this:

Sprinkles, edible glitter, skittles, m&ms, gummy worms, teddy grahams, and gel topping galore. I put the loose candy on paper plates, but in the future, I'd use spoons or something to make communal sharing less of a problem.

When the patrons came in for the program, they grabbed a plate, a napkin, a cupcake (or two or three) and then were directed to have fun. Here are some of their great creations:

This program was fun and easy, and everyone thought the cupcakes were delicious. Although we did a set time for the program -- 3 to 4 pm -- this could easily be run as a day-long passive program. We had enough left over to use for a Friday program, as well, so we served far more than the 60+ who showed up the day of the program. It works for all ages, too, making this a fun and easy family program.


  1. Yep. Imagine overseeing that when you aren't eating junk food. HA.