CakeWalk: How to put on your city's very own CupcakeCamp

CakeWalk is a weekly column by Mary Ann Porch dedicated to every baker who has ever struggled to achieve the right consistency with their icing, unsuccessfully searched for the perfect cupcake topper or just wants to learn something new. Because with a few helpful tips, cupcakes are a cakewalk.

In the past several weeks, I've been receiving a number of e-mails about how to organize CupcakeCamp. I organized my first event in April 2009 and am now ramping up for New York's CupcakeCamp 2.0, so I thought it would be a great time to turn the CakeWalk column into a personal "how to" on how anyone can host their very own CupcakeCamp.

To be clear up front, I organized the first CupcakeCamp in New York City, but CupcakeCamp was created by Ariel Waldman, Marianne Masculino and Cindy Li in San Francisco, the first city to host the event. These ladies created an awesome concept, and their events the past few years have been extremely successful.

So, let's get started. You want to host your city's first CupcakeCamp, huh? Well, get ready for one of the funnest and challenging endeavors you'll take on. That being said, the fun completely weights out the challenges.

Before we get started with step #1, the very first thing you should do before you even consider moving forward with organizing a CupcakeCamp for your city is to make sure your city doesn't already have an established CupcakeCamp team. San Francisco, New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Dublin, Sydney, and many other cities already have teams in place, so make sure you aren't stepping on any toes or creating a copy cat event. You can see a full list of cities that already have CupcakeCamp teams here.

Then, you should read the "how to" section on the main CupcakeCamp site. This will give an overview of what you're getting into. As mentioned, this event is extremely fun to plan, but there are going to be a lot of things that you just won't think about as a first time planner. Reading the "how to" up front will give you a heads up of exactly what you're signing up to handle.

Once you sort out whether you should join an already in place city team or create your city's first CupcakeCamp and have read the "how to" section on, you're officially ready for step# 1, which is seting up a web site and event e-mail address. Sound scary? It doesn't need to be.

First off, set up an e-mail address. I selected As you probably already know, Gmail is free and easy to sign up for, but other options include Hotmail. I suggest using whatever you are most comfortable with. On that note, that is going to be the theme of most of my advice - use whatever you are most comfortable with. This is YOUR event - do it how YOU want to do it!

Secondly, you need to set up a blog/site that people can use as a resource for your event. As someone who was already familar with the Blogger platform, I chose this. However, tumblr is also extremely user friendly and can serve as a terrific spot to house all your event info. You can see the CupcakeCamp NYC blog/site here.

The point of the site is to get the word out about your event. However, you won't have a ton of info to post in the beginning. To get you started, you should include:

Your first post: This can simply be an announcement that you're hosting the event. You can my first CupcakeCamp NYC post here. Short and sweet is best as people aren't going to read six paragraphs about an event that is in it's fledgling planning stages. As you'll see from my first post, I made the mistake of putting out the call for event volunteers. I started receiving a ton of e-mails for an event that didn't have a venue OR a date. Big mistake on my part. Volunteers come later in the process.

Your city-specific CupcakeCamp logo: This is where a graphic designer might come in handy. I live in New York, so I'm lucky to be surrounded by thousands upon thousands of graphic designers and wannabe graphic designers, all hoping to find work. I'm even luckier to have an amazing sister who is a professional graphic designer and a friend, Brian, who volunteered his services for free (I bribed them with cupcakes, of course). My sister took care of altering the CupcakeCamp logo, and I tapped Brian later on in the planning process for poster design. The main CupcakeCamp site has posted their logo for all to use and alter for other CupcakeCamp events. However, I have absolutely no graphic design skills. I know what I like, I just don't know how to use graphic design computer programs. This is where your graphic designer can help as you will definitely need your city's CupcakeCamp logo on the site.

FAQ section: One thing you'll learn very quickly as you progress with your event planning is that you'll get hundreds of e-mails asking the same question. In an effort to curb these e-mails, I suggest posting a FAQ section on your blog/site. The main CupcakeCamp site includes FAQs, so I took those and tailored them for New York.

Once you have your site up, you have completed step #1 of putting on your very own CupcakeCamp! Be sure to check in next week for step# 2 (and probably the most challenging): Securing a venue.

Mary Ann is the founder of the New York City chapter of CupcakeCamp NYC, an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and eat cupcakes in an open environment. She is also the founder of Puff and Choux, a blog dedicated to the pastry and dessert arts. You can contact her at with any questions, ideas or just to chit chat. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MaryAPorch.