A Christmas Cookie Walk

By Ann McKellar

The following is a description of a fundraiser used by the St. Mark Orthodox Church in Rochester Hills, MI. Their Cookie Walk is to raise money for their Building Fund, but it can be used to raise money for all kinds of projects. More than ever, homemade and homebaked food sells.

The Christmas Cookie Walk is another opportunity to draw attention to the parish in the community. Some literature on the Orthodox Church and your particular parish, as well as flyers on upcoming events open to the community can be placed where it can easily be picked up. The church itself might be open, with a sign inviting people to stop in.

  1. Pick your date and time for the affair. We picked the 2nd Saturday in December, from 10AM to 2PM. It is scheduled for this time each year. Your customers will become familiar with “the 2nd Saturday” and will look forward to it. Set a price per pound of cookies. We started at $5. a pound 5 years ago and have gone to $8. a pound. (We checked specialty cookie prices in the local area and priced ours accordingly.)
  2. Have a separate Public Relations Chairperson. Print up and distribute flyers. Try to get announcements or articles in local papers.
  3. Ask parishioners to bake and donate a MINIMUM of 5 lbs. Of cookies. (This is equivalent to a double or triple batch.) Cookies can be made by people individually or in teams at the church if it has a commercial kitchen. The Youth Group might enjoy doing such a project together.

    Emphasize that you will need small attractive cookies. In our area ethnic cookies, festive Christmas cookies, nut and poppyseed rolls are big hits. Oatmeal, chocolate chip and ordinary cookies DO NOT sell. Nor do the huge heavy cookies. If someone bakes the large gingerbread men or women, sell them individually.

    Put up a sign-up sheet that also asks the kind of cookies the bakers will make. In this way you can give direction if you see that too much of one kind is being baked. Variety is very important. We have 20 or more different cookies at our Cookie Walk. Cookies can be baked in advance and frozen, providing they are well wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
  4. Have the cookies dropped off and everything set up the night before the event. When your bakers arrive with their cookies, have them sign in, again indicating the kind of cookies they’ve baked. (This information will help you for the following year as you note what sells and what does not sell.) Set the cookies out on trays or seasonal plates. We put a little card beside the platter indicating the kind of cookie. You want the whole affair to be very eye-appealing. In other nearby churches the cookies are just put out in the containers they were brought in or in cardboard boxes.
  5. Make up a schedule for your workers, a morning crew and an afternoon crew. You will need 2-3 people to refill the plates as they empty. (Don’t put all of the same cookies out at one time.) You will also need one person weighing, one person taking money, and perhaps 2 people tying ribbon on boxes. A clean-up crew is also important.
  6. Three weeks prior to the Cookie Walk, we put out a huge sign announcing the coming of the affair. Check with your city or township to see if there is an ordinance on this. Our sign could only be on church property so many feet from the road.
  7. Have a loose leaf notebook available for your customers to sign with their name and address if they wish a flyer mailed to them next year. It’s good to have a person assigned to that post.

Good Luck and Happy Baking!

Cookie Walk Supply List

  1. Bakery boxes. Our customers let us know that they liked the 9” pie boxes best. We had used smaller, deeper boxes a few times.
  2. Paper liners for boxes.
  3. Disposable plastic gloves. If you can’t find them, a plastic sandwich bag will work.
  4. An accurate kitchen scale.
  5. Crinkle ribbon to tie around the boxes. This is optional, but it gives a “finished” look. We also had labels printed with “Christmas Cookie Walk” and the name and address of our church. We sealed each box with them. We purchased the labels from a mail order source (500 for approximately $3.).
  6. Lots of Cookies. 1995 was our 5th Annual Christmas Cookie Walk. We completely sold out over 330 lbs of cookies in 45 minutes, and we made over $3,000. We know that if we had had twice as many cookies, we could have sold them.

Items 1-3 can be found at a bakery wholesaler or food service company.

Hint: We had free coffee, tea and hot chocolate along with cookie samples at our “Coffee Tables,” set up out of the traffic flow. (See chart)

Ann McKellar is Chairman once again of this year’s Christmas Cookie Walk. She and her husband, Dennis, are founding members of St. Mark Orthodox Church, Rochester, Michigan.