Welcome to CookieCon

We're so glad you're coming!

Yes, new things might be a bit scary, but we really hope you can come enjoy an awesome weekend, make new friends, and contribute to the coolest cookie event ever!

At every CookieCon there are many first-timers coming by themselves. If this describes you, you're definitely not alone!

So how do you make the most of CookieCon, meet like-minded "cookiers", and get feeling comfortable as soon as you can?

The following is a Facebook post made by Nicole - who attended CookieCon for the first time in 2015. She has some awesome tips here!

Read on!...

Welcome to CookieCon
Back in September of 2015 I decided to attend my first Cookie Con. I was a last minute, got my ticket on the waiting list, and a total CookieCon virgin. I knew absolutely no one. I am not one to shy away from doing things alone so I was not going to let fear and insecurity rob me of an opportunity to meet more of what I now call my people. When I got that glorious email telling me there was a ticket available for me I booked my flight, packed my bags and never looked back. Like I said, I knew no one. Like, not even through social media. I hadn't downloaded periscope yet, I only had a personal/private Instagram account that wasn't even really meant for cookies and I didn't even know Facebook cookie groups were a thing. I was the complete newb package, no joke.

Needless to say, it was a fantastic experience and I will be attending every CookieCon as long as Karen and Mike will have me. When I got back I was on a CookieCon high. It's a thing and it's real, trust me. I was also evaluating all the anxiety I had before and during the event and going over all the things I had been scared of and thought to myself, you should do a "Things I Learned From My First CookieCon" post some time. Then I thought you're crazy and nobody wants to hear your crazy ramblings, so I let it slide. Well, I have been seeing so many questions and posts from this year's new crop of CookieCon virgins and I am now telling myself that if I write it and at least one person finds it helpful then it will be worth the rambling embarrassment. Here it goes. A few things I learned from my first CookieCon:
  1. Relax, you're not the only newb walking around. When you arrive and see the glorious, and possibly frightening, sea of crazy cookie people take a deep breathe, exhale and then smile! You will most likely still be sporting the deer in headlights look but that's ok. That's how you find the other newbs. They've got the same wide-eyed look going on and they will return the same nervous smile. Depending on your comfort level you may approach them or they will approach you. Muster the courage to carry on the awkward conversation. This person may end up being your new CookieCon bestie, you just may not know it yet.
  2. Take lots of business cards. They don't have to be fancy. Mine were made on a Microsoft Word with free Google clipart. People will ask you for a card and you will receive tons of cards. This is a great way to see other people's work when you get back to your room. You might not recognize the face or the birth name, but you'd be surprised at how many of their cookies you will recognize! I had several OMG I totally "know" her and I can't believe I just said Hi to that badass and had I no clue I was talking to moments. Let me remind you I was so green I could have been broccoli. In retrospect I think it helped because you can't go full fan girl one someone you don't know you should be going full fan girl on. So yeah, take all the cards and don't be shy about giving and receiving them.
  3. Don't over pack. This isn't a problem for me because I am not the type of person who needs several daily options so that I can wear what I'm feeling that day. I'm not knocking those who are, that's just not how I roll. Not over packing was a saving grace at CookieCon. I was able to fit all of my cookie haul in one small suitcase and had zero issues at the airport. Some women showed up with gargantuan suitcases filled to the brim. Some of them had to purchase additional bags, totes, etc. for all the stuff they bought because they had zero room in their suitcases. If you simply cannot leave your house without 50lbs of clothing and personal items then you might as well pack an extra bag (or place your suitcase inside of a larger suitcase) so you have options and aren't scrambling at the last minute. Also, please keep in mind you will be indoor most of the time. You will be walking around in large groups from room to room and you're going to want to be comfortable. Let the record show that I am a self-proclaimed LulaHo and I will be taking all leggings this year. Thank you leggings for being super easy to pack, wrinkle free and taking up virtually no space! LulaRoe for the WIN!!!

    If you get easily cold in hotels take a hoodie. Label it, if you forget it, this is a good group of people and they will try and get it back to you. I once was able to track down a Sharpie, like MY sharpie. Me and Sharpies have a thing. 4. Shopping. This might be a controversial one, but I feel the need to address it. I have seen people posting that they recommend you take at least $1,500 for shopping. Guys, I bought a lot of stuff, including an airbrush system, and I didn't come close to spending this much money. Your spending is unique to you. Take what you can afford and plan your items if need be. Walking into the Grand Vendor Hall is amazing and can get overwhelming. Go through the vendor list and check out their websites. Familiarize yourself with their products and find the must haves. Contact them and see if these items will be available for sale during the convention. Several vendors were really accommodating and took orders they would have normally shipped to the convention and allowed for the customer to pick them up there. The vendors usually have some special deals and discounts exclusively for the convention. I also found myself justifying my purchases because I would be saving on shipping. I'm looking at you Canadians! So many of my Canada cookie peeps want all the pretty cookie things but it costs an arm and a leg to get them sent over there so they tend to not purchase a lot of stuff. This is especially for y'all. Shop sites, contact vendors, make your cookie dreams come true!
  4. Food, it's important. If you're staying at the Hilton I recommend the breakfast. They offer a special rate for us cookie peeps and it's a good buffet style spread. I don't recommend their lunch though. For the quality, slow service and price I didn't find it to be worth it. I may or may not have accidentally dropped a bagel, cream cheese and maybe some fruit and a muffin in my purse at breakfast to get me through lunch. Remember, I knew no one and was not about to invite myself along on a lunch date with total strangers. No judging.

    There's also a Starbucks setup next to the dining area. If you want a salad, sandwich or whatever for lunch from there get it early. They will run out of all those items quick! Your hotel room should have a mini fridge. Buy your lunch at breakfast time and then take it back to your room so you're not walking around all morning with a lunch that could be breeding some sort of virus by the time you're ready to eat it.

    There are a ton of places to eat around the hotel. The ones that are closest will fill up first, obviously. Walk a bit further, make friends with someone who has a rental or take a cab/uber if you want. But please, eat! I was lucky enough to meet 2 very sweet ladies who invited me to dinner the first night. One of them was there with her husband and kids and they rented a van. They were nice enough to drive me to dinner every night and I was SO grateful. Some people went to local stores to stock up their rooms. That was probably a smart move too.
  5. Everyone is different and there's enough room for all us at the convention. Like with any large crowd there's going to be diversity and that's a good thing. You will find the wildcards, the wallflowers, the loners, the jokesters and the floaters. They are all an integral part of our cookie community. We are all there for the same reason, for the love of cookie. We are throwing all of our varied personalities into a gigantic mixing bowl and we all add spice to the batch. Some of us are extra loud and that can be seen as aggressive. Some of us are extra shy and when we don't talk too much people see it as being rude. Some of us can't help but make immature or inappropriate jokes constantly and some people view that as crass or mean. Some of us don't like to stick to only one group and we float around getting know different groups of people and that can be taken as flaky. Do not take what other people are doing personally. You know what you like and who is not for you. Just because someone isn't necessarily your cup of tea that doesn't mean you should discount them all together or avoid them like the plague. Smile, be courteous and then move on. You may not find your cookie groove right away, but trust me when I say you will definitely find it. Sometimes it's instant and other times it takes a while. Don't stress about what other people are doing and just do you. If I remember correctly, last CookieCon there was a group of wallflowers who slowly came together as the convention went on. By the last night I think they had even come up with their own logo and everything. Just keep calm and CookieCon On.
  6. Participate in the sugar show. I have to admit, when I arrived I was a bit bummed I did not participate. Then I walked into the showroom and as was like WHOOOOOAAAA. All of a sudden didn't feel bad, but relieved. There are some pretty mind blowing artists in our community and it can be intimidating. But, as more and more pieces came in I often times found myself admiring the less intricate cookies the most. You can find beauty in everything, all you have to do is look. So, if you're on the fence I say go for it. This year I really hope I participate. Not because my skills are amazing or anything but just because it always feels nice to be a part of something big and awesome. And the sugar show is just that, big and awesome!!!
  7. Along the same lines of the sugar show is the Mystery Cookie Challenge. DO IT! You don't have to submit it for judging but you should at least play. My clown never made it to the judging table, but I had a blast making it. This was the only time in my life that I can say I sat in a huge room full of people and we were all decorating cookies at the same time. It is a really cool feeling to look around a giant ball room and see everyone getting their cookie on. The table I sat at had people with decorating skills ranging from beginner to expertamazeballs. We all had fun and we all laughed together and watched as our shapes took life. It was great! Please do yourself a favor and don't skip out on decorating the mystery cookie shape. Just walking around the room and seeing everyone's different take on the same shape was fun. DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS.
  8. Awards Dinner. Some people get fancified, some wear aprons, some just take a shower and put on some makeup (that would be me) and others just wear whatever they have been wearing all day. It's really not a big deal and it's totally your call. My motto is, whatever makes you feel comfortable is best.
  9. Classes are fun. As you go from room to room for the demo classes don't be shy. Ask questions, take pictures, etc. Take advantage of this time to further your cookie knowledge and pick the brains of these talented folks. If you managed to score pre-con classes, you're one lucky duck. I was able to get into one class and I absolutely loved it! I learned a lot and got to ask questions on techniques in real time. It's one thing to watch a video and learn but it's an entirely different thing to see it live and then immediately try it and be able to get instant feedback on what can be done differently, how to problem solve or how to practice and improve. Just keep in mind that for every pre-con class you take you will walk away with decorated cookies. This means you will have to find a way to carry them all safely back home. I'm a dork and I just carried a box (courtesy of the BRP in our swag bag) in my lap as if it were my child.
  10. The swag bag, it's awesome. It was filled with so much cool stuff! And of course, like with life, there were maybe 1 or 2 items I did not particularly care for, but it wasn't a big deal for me. I did notice that some people were leaving some cutters on the cutter swap table. Not cool guys, not cool. A lot of vendors who contribute to the bag are in attendance during the convention. Seeing their hard work on a trading table cannot be a fun feeling and it's plain distasteful in my opinion. Dispose of the item in the privacy of your room or wait until you get home to do with it what you will. Jessica Ricevuto wrote a nice PSA post about this and stated it quite well. Go and check it out.
  11. Cookie Karaoke, it's a real thing and I hope it happens again. Liz, Jon, pleeeease! Pajamas and karaoke, what isn't awesome?! Don't worry about the pajama part. You don't have to wear anything special. I just like to make sure that they are clean and presentable. Some people didn't even wear pajamas and guess what? They still had fun! I am most comfortable in pajamas so this was kinda awesome for me.
There you have it folks. I think I got it all. If I missed anything please feel free to ask. And please remember this is just my opinion and 2 cents on CookieCon from a former newb perspective. None of the above was aimed at anyone in particular nor was it by any means directed any group of individuals. This was just me attempting to be a bit helpful. I hope it worked!!!
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