How To Run A Successful Bake Sale

Who doesn’t like a good bake sale? Home baked goodies from cookies to cakes, fudgy brownies and cupcakes. What’s not to love? Have you ever been to a bake sale and it looks more like a rummage sale. The food is sloppily wrapped, the hosts of the sale are cutting your food in front of you and touching it (!), some items you can’t even identify, the cupcake you just bought has a finger full of frosting missing, or worse, a little runny-nosed kid just sneezed on the open baked goods! Gag. I have seen some of those types of sales and wanted to run.

When our school decided to host a bake sale there were a few things I knew we HAD to do. Sell good food, present the food beautifully, and have all the items pre-packaged.

Ten Tips For Running A Successful Bake Sale:

1. Two weeks prior to the event, send a letter to each family in your school or organization announcing the Bake Sale. Ask them to donate a baked good or money. Dictate you your volunteers exactly what you want to sell. Ask volunteers to supply an ingredient list of each baked item they donate, this will help those with allergies make a wise purchase.

2. Keep your sell list short, such as limiting the sale to 3-5 different types of items; Ex.- cupcakes, popcorn, popcorn balls, brownies, trail mix, etc. Of course you may offer a few flavors of cupcakes or cookies!

3. Tell the volunteers not to package or cut their products themselves. This is so you can make equal portion sizes among things like brownies and sheet cakes.

4. Tell you volunteers when and where to leave their items. Be sure they label their dishes. We tell our volunteers to drop off the items one day before the sale or at least 3 hours before.

5. You and a small group of volunteers portion and pre-package the items. You will need knives, spatulas, spoons, cellophane bags, ribbon, twisty ties, pretty stickers, plastic wrap, and any other pretty packaging supplies. Wash Hands!

6. For the sale you will need- tables, table clothes, a money till with various forms of change, baskets, napkins, extra plastic wrap, trash can, and a poster with price list or prices on each basket for each item. Supply utensils if needed. You will need at least 3-4 volunteers to run the actual sale.

7. Keep in mind that bake sale items are usually taken somewhere else to eat, such as home or the office. Please see that the items you are selling are self contained so that they do not spill in the customer’s car.

8. Pricing- We like to keep everything under $2.00. Here is what we have done in the past without difficulty. 3 small cookies-$1, 1 large (5 inch) cookie-$1, cupcakes or cuppycakes- $2 ea or 3 for $5, popcorn balls- $1.00, brownies- $1 (we cut 8 brownies from a 9 x 13 inch pan), popcorn-$1.

9. One week then again three days prior to the sale advertise when and where the sale will occur.

10. The best time to run a bake sale is 30 minutes before school or right after school. We like to run our sales over 2 days insuring all our items sell!


This is the Bat Cupcake. It was an extremely popular cupcake donated to our sale by one of our volunteers, Carolyn. The little girls would have no part of this cupcake until one girl called it a fairy. So for the girls it was the Fairy Cupcake and for the boys the Bat Cupcake. They were gone before all the other cupcakes. This is a very clever little cake using a fudge stripe cookie for the wings and a Hershey’s Kiss for the face. Thanks Carolyn!

We found it best to sink our cupcakes down into a clear plastic 9 ounce punch cup then place in a cellophane bag and tie with curling ribbon. Not only is this attractive it is very functional as we were able to stack these in baskets without crushing the frosting and they made it safely home to all our patrons. We have noted to ourselves that this is the only way we will package our cupcakes from now on!

These are CUPPYCAKES! These were designed by Sheila. We are bake sale partners and I have to say she is the most creative bake sale partner ever! She created the Cuppycake when she went to dump out the Chocolate Cake and it wanted to stay in the pan, so the quick thinker that she is, she cubed up the cake and placed them in the clear 9 ounce plastic punch cups to show off the pretty cake. She then topped each cake with a dollop of Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting and gummy worms. She also did a yellow cake version with light green frosting and little pumpkins. Again we pre-wrapped these in plastic wrap. Very popular!

Harvest Blessing Cups were made by Sheila and were very appropriate for this time of year and sold very well as they contained 5 different treats and a little story explaining each treat. The children got a big kick out of these. Bugels– A horn of plenty, Pretzels– Arms folded in prayers of thanks, Candy Corn– A Pilgrim’s ration of five kernels of corn per day during their first winter, Craisens– Fall harvest of fruits, Sunflower Seeds– planting for a bounteous harvest next year.

Deconstructed Caramel Apple Station

And what would a Harvest Bake Sale be without Caramel Apples. We wanted to have a caramel apple station at our sale because we thought the kids would really enjoy decorating their own caramel apples. But how does one pull off something like that? We thought to pre-make all of the caramel apples but that is quite a fete to make dozens of the things. So I figured why not deconstruct the caramel apple? We cut up some big Granny Smith apples and placed them in a bath of Sprite to keep them from browning too fast. The picture shown is while we were assembling the trays. We filled nacho trays with either dulce de leche or Apple Dip and the sliced apples then topped each tray with plastic wrap and placed them on the table. Each patron was able to choose the tray with their favorite dip then simply lift the side of the plastic wrap closest to the dip and decorate it with various toppings such as sprinkles, crushed Oreos, Reese’s Pieces, peanut butter chips, crushed Heath, and Candy Corn. Loved It!! All ages enjoyed this treat as it was easier to eat and orthodontics friendly.

Apple Dip
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla

Mix together cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

If you liked this post I would appreciate some Stumble Upon love!

For more bake sale ideas:
Cupcake Monday
Old-Fashioned Bake Sale

What are some of your bake sale ideas?


  1. Rindy R
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 7:00 AM | Permalink

    We just had a bake sale at our Bingo night and I wish I had your brilliant idea of the cupcakes in a cup! Great idea!

  2. Veronica
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 8:22 AM | Permalink

    What fabulous ideas! I really liked the Harvest Blessing Cups-I might have to use that for Thanksgiving this year. Very clever to put the cupcakes in plastic cups. When we have bake sales we also like to sell whole cakes and whole pies because some people like to buy dessert for the whole family.

  3. Tanya
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    This is great – you should send this out to every church and school out there. I’ve seen so many ill-prepared bake sales and they just turn me off. Those cuppycakes look sooooo good. I could use one right now!

  4. noble pig
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    How great is that. I love the cupcakes in a glass, what a fab idea!

  5. Karen
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

    I won’t buy from bake sales unless the food is packaged individually. The plastic cups for the cupcakes is a great idea!

  6. Lisa
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

    What a nice bake sale. I especially like the Harvest Blessing Cups! Everything looks so pretty.

  7. Lori
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

    Great looking bake sale. I love the baskets. And I love the idea with the cupcake in the plastic cup. Very functional! The cupcake bat is a great idea.

  8. Grace
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 7:54 AM | Permalink

    would you believe that i’ve never been to or participated in a bake sale? we didn’t really do that sort of thing in my town. by the looks of your goodies, i’ve really been missing out. 🙂

    • cassie
      Posted May 10, 2013 at 11:17 PM | Permalink

      you are really missing out!!!!!!!!!!!! I am having a bake sale with bff this weekend.

  9. bigredkitchen
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    Hey everyone thanks for all the comments. I just wrote you all individual comments like I usually do and my computer blip and they disappeared. So thanks for stopping in and leaving your comments, it brightens my day!

  10. That Girl
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 10:32 PM | Permalink

    That is a fine looking bake sale!

  11. Helene
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 11:15 PM | Permalink

    I love doing bake sale. Great tips. Thanks.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 5:42 AM | Permalink

    You have some beautiful, smart looking ideas…I have used a paper/foam plate for cookies covered with plastic wrap and topped with another plate with large enough circle cut out, taped to the bottom (well covered, well displayed, easy to carry). Plus, I have used lunch bags made into little carry-alls (I think it's a "Martha" idea)..leave bag folded..cut on both sides of middle about 1 inch from the folded bottom..than cut out to the left and than the right…glue a handle from the middle bag..wrap 12 cookies in plastic in center of a napkin..drop into bottom of bag…you have a cheap, easy to carry & cute packaging…Sheila

  13. Kristina
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this post. All these tips are very smart. I've been trying to figure out for months what to do for my senior project, and since I love to bake this is a perfect idea. I can even get my friends involved. 🙂 Thanks again, I can't wait to get started.

  14. Robin Sue
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    Kristina- This is a great idea for a senior project. Have a great time!

  15. Rita
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    We are going to use some of these ideas for our 3 sales coming up! I'd love to know what bags the cupcake cups fit in… They are so adorable!

  16. Robin Sue
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    Rita- We used the small cellophane bags from Michael's sold in the cake decorating and candy section. Hope this helps! Have Fun!

  17. Rita
    Posted October 18, 2009 at 10:44 PM | Permalink

    Hi Robin- I just wanted to come back and say a huge THANK YOU! We tried to do our bake sales so they would look more like your pictures. We used cloth tablecloths, baskets, and wrapped all of our items nicely. Our first sale made $400, the second $270, and the last one today $275. We owe so much of our success to this post, so THANK YOU! If you want to take a peek at ours, here is a link

  18. Anonymous
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    Our 5th grade church group is holding a bake sale for Haiti. This information is wonderful! The cup idea for cupcakes is the best idea I've seen.
    thank you for sharing!

  19. Anonymous
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    I love the Caramel Apple idea! It was brilliant! I would have never thought of covering the apples in Sprite. I also appreciate the idea of the cup for the cupcakes and the Harvest Blessing Cup. Thank you for creating the website. It was a big help!

  20. Sylvia
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 10:46 PM | Permalink

    I had heard of spraying down the apples with lemon juice, or putting them in a bowl that had some lemon juice in it, but never of the sprite. I guess the acidity of the two does the same thing? Very cool idea ! I can only imagine how thrilled the kids were to decorate their own.. very neat idea.
    Digital Kitchen Scale

  21. Marcy G
    Posted September 16, 2010 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

    Love these ideas. Will definitely use the punch cup for cupcakes. I'm surprised all of these new cupcake businesses haven't caught on to that idea. So perfect. Thank you so much!

  22. Jennifer
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 7:46 PM | Permalink

    I have two bake sales to help with this weekend and your ideas were great! I used the cupcake in a cocktail cup trick last night for the spooky Halloween treats I put together for the preschool bake sale, and think I might try the thankful-themed snack mix for the Sunday School sale. Loved the caramel apple idea too. Thanks for sharing the tips!

  23. Talia
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing you cupcake hint! What a great idea and one I will surely use at the next bake sale.

    Everything looks so yummy and like it was so much fun. Lucky kids! 🙂

  24. Anonymous
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    Anybody have an idea on how to package whoopie pies so they look neat?

  25. Robin Sue
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    Anon- Try wrapping in plastic wrap where the wrap is twisted behind the pie and secured with a pretty round sticker which will then become the front. Or wrap in cellophane which always looks crisp and neat. Or if you can get some "clam shell" type containers from your local bakery and place them in those.

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