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Dessert Tables?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
So after seeing many dessert tables it got me thinking, would it be worth it to start doing JUST dessert tables? I would help develop and/or carry out my client's theme with homemade candies, brownies, chocolates, and of course cakes. But my business would be solely based on dessert tables. I know they are A LOT of work, but I love them! I love the idea of planning the set up and arranging the treats to go with the theme.

So, to my fellow bakers I ask, does this seem like a good idea? Keep in mind I do have a "regular" job and would be doing this as fun side job, doing one or two a month. I know I would need to be licensed first.

Any tips or suggestions? Thank you!
post #2 of 48

like dessert catering? I love the idea! I don't know how profitable it would be!

I used to work the Saturday buffet dinner at a very fancy private club, and 6-7 of us would make desserts for 3 days, (8 hour shifts mostly) for about 300 people.

 

my advice is, if you plan on doing large parties, more than 50 then get someone to work with you.

3-4 pieces of mini desserts (including slices)per person.

always have something ready made in the freezer for emergencies, I assure you it's not if, it's when.

consider offering "packages", for instance like a "French pastry package" or a "chocolate lovers package" or a " memory lane package". each with 6-7desserts for that theme, that way you can reasonably be stocked with ingredients you need.

even though you are not liscensed now, if you are serious about this, start investing in platters and buffet ware now! this stuff ( the good stuff), is expensive!

good luck!

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post #3 of 48
Thread Starter 
Wow!! Thank you. I hadn't thought of packages, I have been looking at prices and it seems so confusing, but a package price would be so much easier. As much as I'd love to do larger parties, I don't think that will happen soon. I am lucky enough to have worked with a wedding planner as an assistant who would certainly send work my way.
post #4 of 48

also, another thing to consider is will you be attending the events as a chef attendee :P. If not you may have to charge rent for your wares, or even better a deposit that they can get back after your stuff is returned properly.. not something I would have thought of by myself, but after reading all the horror stories on here about people not being able to get their cake stands back.

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post #5 of 48
Thread Starter 
My idea now is to set up and leave. I would stay if requested, for an extra fee and it would have to be because things needed to be refilled and in that case, I would have help as well. I have already been scouring trays, stands, different cake displays and I would charge a rental fee/deposit. I may be crazy, but I don't see a lot of overhead. I won't really have to keep a stock of everything as it would be made fresh for each event.
Here's my idea of a dessert table order going smoothly (please tell me if you see any quirks or possible issues):
A lady is hosting a baby shower and wants something other than typical finger foods and Wal-Mart sheet cake, so she calls me. We set up a consultation, she tastes a few items (yet to be determined) and while tasting, we discuss the theme. The mom-to-be is having a boy so I suggest a "little man" theme. I will cut items into the shape of neckties. The nursery is going to be blue, brown and white, there is my color scheme. Hostess says about 30 will attend so she chooses x amount of items and I draw up my idea of the cake table with decor. This includes a full back drop, table layout, etc. Basically I am creating the focal point for the event. Hostess pays $x.xx for deposit, the rest to be paid 2 weeks before the event. I purchase all of the items needed for decor and treats. Day of event, I set up the backdrop, table and food, then have the purchaser or other authorized person sign off, I take a few pictures and I'm out before the party starts.
Am I crazy or does this sound reasonable. Clearly I'm still working on pricing and other things, but this is a rough draft.
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaylawaylalayla View Post

you can reasonably be stocked with ingredients you need

I think kaylawaylalayla was referring to keeping ingredients stocked, such as chocolate chips, flour, sugar, etc. If you go and purchase those items specifically for each party you are going to make less money and also spend more time shopping. Buy in bulk for the basics to save your money and time. Also, you should stock up on all the containers (tiny cups, plates) and any flatware (tiny dessert spoons), pop sticks/paper straws, cello bags, ribbons, etc. that you might need. Buying those items in bulk will save you a lot of money, time, and stress in the long run. I love doing parties, and it is just a hobby for me (just family), but even I will buy a lot of these kind of basics to keep on hand to save money over time. There are some great online places to buy basic supplies at huge discounts. For instance, I get 100 yard rolls of satin ribbon for less than $4 a roll at Papermart. I just get solid colors and I buy all the colors. I use them for everything and they seem to never run out! icon_smile.gif

Also, if you are going to do tastings, you will need to have items on hand, so find some items that can be successfully frozen so you can pull out one or two of each item. You would not want to make a new batch of lemon bars, cookies, mini cupcakes, etc. each time you have a tasting. That would cost you too much money and waste your time. Only allow a few items for a tasting, not every single item you offer.

Good luck and have fun!
post #7 of 48

that sounds reasonable to me, I hope someone else will have some input lol.

 

what I meant by keeping stock is keeping the ingredients around for specific desserts because you always offer them, instead of having to run out last minute for specialty ingredients because it's something you've never made every time.( and what the above poster said, she said it better than I could lol)

you're gonna have just about as much overhead as any home based baking business. (if you're doing it from home). seems like you'll need a consultation room too, and unless you have a delivery van, your gas costs will probably be higher if you need to make multiple trips.

also you'll need a place to store all these backdrops and decorations. where normal bakeries only have to include time for shopping into overhead, you will also have to include time for shopping for decorations.

 

 

and I would charge, a lot!

 

 

 

 

price matrix (1).xls 655k .xls file
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post #8 of 48

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by just4fun26 View Post

My idea now is to set up and leave. I would stay if requested, for an extra fee and it would have to be because things needed to be refilled and in that case, I would have help as well.

   I can't imagine what else you would have to go for lol. they might ask you to cut the cake. with small buffets like you are talking about, you really wouldn't need any help.

 

anyways, sounds like a really fun idea! I hope it works out for you! any ideas for names?

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post #9 of 48
Thread Starter 
Ok, I see what you meant about stock on hand. I foresee a lot of time going into this, if it gets off the ground. I would be making everything from home. As for backdrops, I do have a place for storage and once I get some feedback from other people in my area, I'll know if this is worth doing and purchase all the little things, cups, spoons, ribbon, table cloths, etc. Thankfully those can be bought in bulk.
From what research I've done, this is not a cheap thing. I've found dessert tables starting at $1,500. But I think if I market myself right, set up a solid plan and keep my pricing reasonable for my area, I just might be able to pull this off.

Ideally, I would love to have an opportunity to do this for a family member or close friend to get an idea of what I'm actually going to be doing.

I've been an assistant to a wedding planner, I've hosted so many showers I've lost count, so I have to say I'm good with time management and last minute hiccups. Many of the showers I've done I have decorated the hall, done all the food and clean up. Maybe I am being naive, but a dessert table seems like a smaller version of what I've done many times before. Except it is only sweets and I'll have to up my presentation a little.
post #10 of 48

Get rid of the tasting idea for small events - they will just suck up your time and money.  Would you ask for a tasting for a cake for a shower?  I wouldn't.  They will need to trust that your lemon bars taste like lemon, and so on.

 

Good luck!

 

Liz

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

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post #11 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaylawaylalayla View Post

   I can't imagine what else you would have to go for lol. they might ask you to cut the cake. with small buffets like you are talking about, you really wouldn't need any help.

anyways, sounds like a really fun idea! I hope it works out for you! any ideas for names?

I had a really good name last night, but of course I forgot it. I'd like a name that refers to dessert tables so I can set myself apart.
post #12 of 48
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your advice!
post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by just4fun26 View Post

Ok, I see what you meant about stock on hand. I foresee a lot of time going into this, if it gets off the ground. I would be making everything from home. As for backdrops, I do have a place for storage and once I get some feedback from other people in my area, I'll know if this is worth doing and purchase all the little things, cups, spoons, ribbon, table cloths, etc. Thankfully those can be bought in bulk.
From what research I've done, this is not a cheap thing. I've found dessert tables starting at $1,500. But I think if I market myself right, set up a solid plan and keep my pricing reasonable for my area, I just might be able to pull this off.

Ideally, I would love to have an opportunity to do this for a family member or close friend to get an idea of what I'm actually going to be doing.

I've been an assistant to a wedding planner, I've hosted so many showers I've lost count, so I have to say I'm good with time management and last minute hiccups. Many of the showers I've done I have decorated the hall, done all the food and clean up. Maybe I am being naive, but a dessert table seems like a smaller version of what I've done many times before. Except it is only sweets and I'll have to up my presentation a little.

are you sure you were just an assistant, lol? sounds like you ran a hall and a catering business

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post #14 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaylawaylalayla View Post

are you sure you were just an assistant, lol? sounds like you ran a hall and a catering business

Such reason why I do not work with her anymore. Nice person but lacked a creative eye. I'm still an on call consultant, but since a bride thanked ME for all my hard work and catching little details making her day perfect - publicly on the planners website, I havent been called for help.
post #15 of 48

First, when you say doing this from home....you do mean you have a licensed kitchen, correct?

 

Doing custom sweet tables is way more difficult than I think you realize. They are extremely hard to sell. Who's your customer? That's the problem....in my opinion.

 

1. You have the lower budget people who don't have the serving pieces and can't afford to rent them from you. Whom will buy candies and simple items else where to save money and just ask you to do a couple items for them. Those few items aren't as profitable as doing a cake and it involves more pans and more ingredients for you to own. (I do this, so I'm not saying it can't be done!)

 

2. The middle budget people get there sweets from the vendor where the party is. For example the have their wedding or shower at a venue, the venue provides the sweets or charges them extra to bring in their own sweets. So you have to find people having parties at home or small venues that don't provide food. Those people have their friends bring cookie bars and such, they buy some candies and still all they want is a few items from you. (Again, I sell to them, so it can be done)

 

3. The high end customer who has the money to do this might not shop for this themselves. They probably will have their party planner or hotel take care of purchasing everything for this. So you have to be "in" with the right people.

 

Spend some serious time google searching this topic. Look at the bakeries around you to see how they are doing this and pricing things. It's key to set minimum amounts because you don't want to sell half a batch of 10 different baked goods and take a loss on the rest of the batch not being sold (look at my website for examples if you want.). Renting trays seems simple but getting back 10 trays from one party undamaged and clean is 10x harder than getting back the tray the wedding cake sat on. You can't do tastings for 20 different items.....you'd spend you whole life doing that and once you figured out your costs for doing such, you'd not make a profit from your business.

 

I don't want to be Debbie Downer, you can do this if your super persistent, smart and well connected. I do offer sweet tables myself and love doing them too. But I personally couldn't begin to base a business on just doing them.

 

P.S. Look at my sweet table section on my website (it's just a small hint of the work I've done). I've done sweet tables for 25 plus years......my point being that I really know this topic well!

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