Thursday, February 23, 2017

Teen Cookie Wars

It's no secret that teens and food go together like peanut butter and jelly.  But what is the best way to harness that teen love of all things edible?  Wars.  Food wars that is!  Earlier this week I hosted a Teen Cookie War at my library and it was smashingly successful.  Here's how it went down:

1. I purchased a random assortment of candies and cookie decorating supplies, including several (like 8) tubs of white frosting.  This included food color, which as we all know is a great stainer, so introduce your teens to it with words of caution.

2.  I bought big, plain sugar cookies.  Now one may think that any sugar cookie will do, but that is NOT the case.  The cookies cannot be overly soft or they will fail to hold up during the vigorous decorating process, and they need to be of sufficient size to be an attractive surface for decorating.  Note: I always purchase more cookies than teens I think will show up, about 3x more, so after they create their masterpiece, while judging is happening, they can decorate a cookie to eat.

3.  I also purchased three $10 Barnes and Noble gift cards for the winners.  You could of course have anything you like as prizes, or nothing but the joy of eating a masterpiece.

4.  I created three "stations" in our programming space: the Judging Table, The Supplies Table, and the Decorating Zone.  Participants picked up supplies at the Supplies Table, and were only allowed to decorate in the Decorating Zone.

5.  As participants entered they received a large (think Chinet sturdy) white paper plate, and were told to take a spot around the Decorating Zone Tables.

6.  Once everyone has arrived and received a paper plate, this is the spiel I shared:

Welcome to Teen Cookie Wars!!  The theme today is FAVORITE CHILDHOOD BOOKS.
We have THREE cookie categories:
1)      Most Creative
2)      Best Representation of Theme (Favorite Childhood Books)
3)      Most Legit
There will be ONE winner for each category, 3 winners total, who will receive $10 gift certificates to Barnes and Noble.
You will get one white plate, this is what you will submit your cookie on for judging.  You can only submit ONE cookie for judging.  You can now come and choose ONE cookie and take it back to your work space.
When you hear the bell ring, your 30 minutes to decorate will begin.  You will get a warning when there are 15 minutes remaining and when there are 5 minutes remaining.  The bell will signal the end of your decorating time, at which point your completed cookie needs to be on the judging table.  Your NAME and the TITLE of your cookie needs to be on the white plate (in marker or in decorating material), when it is submitted for judging.  During judging you will tell the judges about your cookie!

6. I found that 30 minutes is sufficient for decorating and the verbal indication of time heightens the adrenaline and excitement. 

7. I had myself and one of the Youth Library Assistants as judges, but feel free to have a whole panel if you want volunteers involved or other teens.

8. We announced the winners of the 3 gift cards, took tons of pictures, and sent everyone home with at least one cookie!

Overall, this was a very successful teen program, with great attendance and enthusiasm from attendees.  And some glorious cookie masterpieces! 

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