General Etiquette > Holidays

How to ask for feedback

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Dr. F.:
So, for the past couple years, I've been baking cookies for friends, family, and pets (several kinds of dog cookies!). I'm told that several relatives look forward to my holiday baking, particularly my sister and BIL. I did 8 types of cookies, PLUS gluten-free varieties of each type (my sister is now gluten-free). Plus, I did 3 types of dog cookies (including carob-peanut butter-bacon cookies). My sister and I both value our dogs.

I'd like to ask the recipients which ones they like the best, for future reference about what to bake for next year. I'm not looking for reinforcement or anything. In fact, that would be useless to me ("OH, they're all great!").

What I'd like to know is which ones I should plan on doing next year, and which ones weren't as successful. I had my favorites, but last year, my Mom's favorite was one I wouldn't have expected. It startled me, and now I don't pretend I can predict what people like.

Is there a way to ask what people like/don't like that will be polite AND generate an honest response?

Tea Drinker:
If people thank you for the cookies, that's your opening to say something like 'I'm glad you liked them. I enjoy trying new recipes, and I can't make as many different kinds of cookie as I'd like, so please tell me, did you have a favorite?"

Depending on how close you are to people, and whether they are cooks themselves, you might also say something like "I could really use feedback on the ginger cookies. I have to be careful not to put too much ginger in things, because I like it so much. Did I get it right, or should I use more or less next time?" You can't use that for everything, but if there's a spice/flavoring you tend to do that with (ginger is one of mine), it's plausible.

I actually don't think you need to worry too much, because people probably really do love to taste all of your cookies  :).

However, I do see where you're coming from and you obviously care a lot that your family actually enjoy the gifts you bake for them.  That's nice!

An idea just off the top of my head could be to start a FB conversation or an email chain a few weeks before Christmas where family members can request their favourite cookie flavour from you.  Start an online poll where people vote and you commit to baking the 3 most voted for cookies perhaps?  Just a nice light-hearted bit of fun together, which would build the excitement for the cookies.  It could become a tradition after a few years!  I think with my family something like that might be well received, but you'd have to be the judge of how it might go in yours.

My mom does a lot of holiday baking, which I help with. We make recipes that WE like and that have been well-received in the past. But, most of the time we're bringing the cookies in person to a family gathering, so we can see what goes first and what people get most excited about, and be there when people make a comment like, "Oh, I love your peanut butter cookies!" If you're not present when the cookies are consumed, though (like sending them through the mail), I can see how it would be difficult to get honest reactions.

If it's someone like your mom or sister, or someone you feel close to, I think you could just be straightforward about it. "I'm planning to cut down the number of different recipes I make. Which one is your favorite, that you think I should keep? Is there anything you think I should change about the recipe?"

Another tried-and-true method, at least IME, is merely to cut things arbitrarily, and see what people complain about missing the next year. :)

Outdoor Girl:

--- Quote from: Lynn2000 on December 31, 2013, 09:51:21 AM ---Another tried-and-true method, at least IME, is merely to cut things arbitrarily, and see what people complain about missing the next year. :)

--- End quote ---

LOL.  Yes, this would work really well.

Another idea would be if you are giving a lot of the cookies at once, make it a bit like a cookie exchange.  Hand one representative of each group a cookie tin (and a separate tin for dog cookies) and tell them they can pick up to 6 of each kind of cookie.  After everyone's been through the line, they can go back for another round.  And then watch which cookies get passed over by whom and which cookies get picked up on the second go round by whom.  Only if there is room for this and the recipients would find it entertaining, of course.

I like purple's idea, too.


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