- Sophie &Friends
Last week I wrote about how we packed up our goodies and hit the road for an adventure in New York City. In that blog I painted a rosy picture of all the sights and wonders and glossed over the minor glitches. This week, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what really goes on behind the scenes. The fact is that no matter how well or how long you plan an event, there is always, always, always going to be something that goes wrong. My job as the party planner is to solve every problem with the least amount of impact. Ideally, my client, or anyone for that matter, never knows that something is amiss. When we are on our home turf we can pretty much solve any problem. Take us 3000 miles from our home base and that can cause some interesting challenges.
Our hotel room filled with supplies
Now let me preface this by saying one thing: if you are going to have something go wrong, the best place in the world to be is in New York City. New York is a city where anything is possible and available. It’s a city where you can find unpasteurized goat’s milk at midnight if you need to. It’s a city of infinite resources and possibilities. All you need is a computer, a phone, and….a credit card.
Let me back up a tiny bit and begin at the beginning.
When Brooks Brothers contacted us back in July they requested some very specific items. They knew they wanted crafts, photos, and most importantly, cookie decorating. We do this all the time around the Holidays, so it wasn’t a big issue, except for one tiny glitch...the cookies.
One of our crafting stations.
Here in San Francisco, we have an amazing wholesale bakery called Creative International Pastries. Every year they provide us with gallons of icing and the most delicious shortbread cookies around. However, the notion of taking 300 cookies in a suitcase didn’t really seem practical. The image of me standing in the middle of a giant pile of cookie crumbs with the Hyatt housekeeping staff glaring menacingly over my shoulder was all it took to send me on a Google search for New York bakeries.
The problem was the budget.
Silly us - when we put our proposal together we had assumed that we could find a wholesale bakery in Manhattan that would produce the number of cookies we needed at a price similar to our San Francisco bakery. WRONG! To quote one of my old high school teachers - “Never assume, because it makes an ASS of U and ME”. Being that our budget was already approved, we couldn’t ask for more money. We had to solve the problem by finding cheaper cookies.
After contacting as many locals as we could, we found a cookie company in my old home town of West Chester, Pennsylvania, that assured us they could produce the cookies and ship them for the approved budget! Sweet!
The reality of our mistake didn’t hit us until Wednesday morning, when we began unwrapping the cookies in our hotel room. The first sign there was going to be an issue hit immediately upon opening the first box. The cookies were sealed in plastic bundles, 5 cookies per bundle, 10 bundles per bag. Who places cookies in bags!!!!!! Granted the bags were placed in beds of packing peanuts...but still...who places cookies in bags and expects them to survive a trip through the US Postal Service?
As I began unwrapping the first bundle my stomach plummeted. The Christmas trees had all lost their stumps. I steadied my breathing. The situation was not ideal, but it was still workable. The cookie was large, and the stump was understandably delicate, no one would miss the stump, really. However, when I went to transfer the first cookie from the bundle to the display tray a huge fissure appeared right down the middle of the tree. Now I was hyperventilating. Of the 3 different cookie shapes, the stockings faired the best, but the Snowmen were losing their heads faster than Olaf in Frozen, and the Christmas trees were being felled more swiftly than an Oregon old growth forest.
This was not good! We needed 150 cookies fast!
Always calm and rational, Annette got on the phone and within 20 minutes had located a bakery that would not only provide us with 150 sugar cookies, but would deliver them to boot. I have no idea what this cost us, but at that point in time, I didn’t care. I was in triage mode. Money didn’t matter, our reputation was at stake.
Scrambling to "make it work" before the party starts
Now, here’s the kicker. The emergency cookies arrived on time and they were warm. They were, without a doubt, the best cookie I have ever tasted in my entire life. They melted in your mouth and sent your taste buds into shivers of sugary ecstasy (as I write this I am literally scrolling back in my memory and can recreate the taste and smell in my imagination). Basically, they were the perfect compliment to the surviving shaped cookies. No one was the wiser of our earlier mishap. In fact, the cookie combo led to many a lively discussion with the adults as to the comparison between the drier shaped cookies and the pliable round ones. The children were completely oblivious. To them, the cookies were just transport systems for copious amounts of icing and assorted toppings.
Our craft tables that kept all the children happy as clams
At the end of the event, we had about 25 cookies left, which we handed out in little bags to the last few guests. Did it cost me more money? Yes. Did I learn an important lesson? Of course. However, we made it through without any disappointments. Every child and adult walked away happy, which in the end, is all a party planner can hope for.
But next time...I’m letting the caterer handle the cookies!