Monday, February 24, 2020

Hot Chocolate StoryWalk

Abby pours hot chocolate while a beautiful family poses in front of the first StoryWalk frame. Full disclosure: this is my brother and his beautiful family! 

This weekend, we had a fabulous, super easy event to promote our StoryWalk, a Hot Chocolate StoryWalk. It was the brainchild of our Marketing Coordinator who thought it would be a good way to encourage families to come out during the winter months when our StoryWalk might not see as many guests. He was totally right and I was super excited that so many people made it out to see The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (a favorite favorite of mine) before we switch it over for our spring story.

We lucked out with a beautiful, sunny day that wasn't too cold for February and we saw over 100 people during the 2 hours of the event. We mainly advertised via social media and sent out an email blast. Our Parks Department cross posted on their social media, too. I definitely saw some library families that I know, some of whom had visited the StoryWalk before and some not.

Honestly, all we did was purchase hot chocolate, hand out drinks and snacks, and direct people where to go for the StoryWalk. And we got SO MANY great comments about the event on Facebook. We will definitely do some similar events in the future because it was very easy to set up and run and seemed to have a big impact for the amount that we spent on it.

The nitty gritty...

We purchased hot chocolate from a local coffee shop and it cost about $100 for a cambro that served 50. We tried to pour half cups (for the kids, at least) to make the hot chocolate stretch farther and because a full adult hot chocolate is a lot to drink for little kids. We told everyone that they were welcome to come back and get more if they wanted. We did also use 3 cans of whipped cream.

We had coffee donated, so there was that for adults too. We have found that many coffee shops are willing to donate coffee for events, but we have not had luck with getting hot chocolate donated due to the cost of making it. We also provided individually packaged snacks - Goldfish crackers, cookies, etc. and small waters.

While the hot chocolate was the star of the show, we did have several kids who just wanted water or snacks. I think it was great to have a variety. A couple of things (which may be obvious, but they're things I hadn't thought about before the event)...

  • Pour it yourself. That way you can control the portions and try to prevent waste. Plus, there's no risk of a young person accidentally scalding themselves or anything. We were glad we did this! 
  • Keep any packaging you can for nutritional info. We had one child who was diabetic and their parents wanted to check the carb content of the whipped cream we use. When serving food at a kids' event, I think it's always a best practice to keep all packaging. Lots of families want to check it for a variety of reasons. 
  • Ask the coffee shop to make the hot chocolate at child temperature! I do not have any kids, so this did not occur to me, but we definitely should have done that. We didn't have any problems with it, but after one parent asked about the temperature we definitely warned everyone else that it might be a little hot. Having them make it child temperature probably would have been a better call. 
  • Get extra cups! Since we were doing half-pours, we definitely needed the extra cups that we brought. We were super glad to have planned ahead on that one. 
  • Bring paper towels. We were really glad we did this, too. 
We had thought about doing a craft, but elected not to since the temperatures during the time of our event were predicted to be in the high 40s. We didn't need it and I doubt very many people would have done it, anyway. They were there for the Walk and that's what they did! 

Next time we do this, I would definitely like to send a staff person around the walk to take pictures of families. Since there were just two of us there, we pretty much just manned the table the whole time. It wasn't so crowded that we needed two people at the table every minute, but families tended to arrive in groups, so it was nice to have two when that happened so that there wasn't a long line. 

We've got another event planned with some community partners for the spring and the success of this one has got me really excited about that one!