I’m a solid believer in plans. I believe that plans are good. But I also believe that plans are there to fall through. I look at plans as guides to where we are going, or hoping to get to, and as we move along, we have to be open to changes in the direction we may need to take in getting to our destination. Alternatively, our destination may change altogether.
Just this last weekend, there was a Christmas Event that was to take place on Friday and Saturday. I was told it was a family event angled more towards parents with young children. And I was invited to set up a stall selling my bakes.
I have never set up a stall for my bakes before, namely because I detest the idea of waste and oftentimes, when we depend on customers to buy rather than have what they want baked to order, there are usually two outcomes – 1. A Sell Out. 2. Leftovers = Waste. A sell out is ideal of course, but leftovers? Not so much.
But I, had a plan.
My plan was to bake cookies, mini loaf cakes and brownies/blondies. And within each category, I would bake about 6 different kinds, one batch each, perhaps two for those I thought would be more popular. So bake away I did.
To be honest, I didn’t think I prepared a lot at all for two days. My thinking was that I’d rather sell out than be left with lots of cakes and cookies at the end of the event. It was my first time after all and I’d rather savour the experience so that if there were to be a next time, I’d be more prepared.
Sadly, the event was not well-publicised and also, it was located in an obscure carpark that few people could find. The place was nicely set up and air-conditioned, but the turn out was poor. I was glad that I managed to sell some of my bakes on both days, and had a couple of people return for more which was extremely heartening for me.
I realise now how tough it is to predict crowds. This event was thought to attract about 700 people the first day, and at least 1000 the next, but I don’t think even half the people expected turned up. So yes, I had a plan and I managed to stick to my plan to bake what I thought would be sufficient. And it was! Only it was far too sufficient. As such, it resulted in my reaching an ‘end’ I hadn’t planned for. Participating in this Christmas Fair made me realise how difficult it is to guess the number of people who might attend and that makes it tough to estimate how many baked items to prepare as well. As easy as it is to sell out, it is also easy to be left with excess and factors contributing to either is sometimes hardly within our control.
On the flip side, this event made me appreciate my parents and F even more. They accompanied me over the two days even though it was quiet, and helped me sell where possible. Mum and Dad took over whenever F and I went for lunch or dinner, and their presence certainly made time pass a lot quicker.
On the second day, rather than stay until 9pm, we closed shop and left at 6pm for dinner on me at Din Tai Fung. It was my simple way to express my gratitude towards them and even then, I don’t think it was enough considering all that they had helped me with before and during the event – the packaging and labelling of the cookies, cakes and brownies/blondies, Dad driving us to the venue which was right in town, and then driving home to take the train back in, F encouraging me whenever I felt flustered at how much more I had to bake, and all of them just being there to bring me cheer at not having been able to sell as much as I’d have liked, even though I was really ok about it.
I’m not sure if I will go on ahead with baking for more events although I have to admit that it does generate more publicity. I’m glad that we managed to distribute my leftovers to aunties and uncles in church, to F’s team at work, as well as to our neighbours, security guards and those working around our estate cleaning and priming it every day. At least they were happily received and consumed which means far more to me than the money made or lost. I would much rather my bakes be enjoyed than to be thrown away. That, to me, would be my biggest heartbreak!