Terry Chamberlin, Founder of Gramma in a Box describes her creative, San Diego-based enterprise – a project that’s close to her heart – which brings together grandparents and grandchildren around the country.
Gramma in a Box delivers a cookie decorating kit packed with 12 plain sugar cookies and eight candy treats to your door.
You get step-by-step instructions, and pictures of what ingredients you need out of your box, as well as what it should look like once finished. I also provide YouTube videos for our younger fans who can’t yet read, and two sheets of parchment paper that the kids can use as a placemat to work on.
Gramma in a Box equips you with everything you need for fun and delicious decorating – barring the bowl, spoon, and microwave.
We have six buying options. You can buy a one-off box, you can prepay for 3/6/12 months in advance, or you can join our monthly auto-debit program (for $22.50 per month). Our latest option is a monthly pick-up for locals in San Diego.
It all happened because my son had an opportunity to move to Seattle and relocated there with his family, including my grandchildren. I always try really hard to stay connected with them, and I have a long history of baking. In fact, I used to bake with my own grandmother.
Once my grandchildren left town, I started baking sugar cookies for the holidays, prepared some frosting and sprinkles, and mailed all of these to them. I would keep some back for myself so that when the kids received their package, we could all Skype and do the cookie crafts together.
For example, we could decorate the cookie pumpkin and have a conversation about it, which is sometimes not so easy to do with a five- or six-year-old. By engaging children, you can interact with them for thirty minutes and sometimes more, even though you can’t physically be with them.
I wanted my grandchildren to know who I was, even though I could only go and visit three or four times a year. A friend of mine asked if I would do the same thing for her and her grandchildren, and this is when the lightbulb came on!
The first box was way too heavy and cost too much to mail. I had to scale it down. I always included candy crafts because I didn’t want it to be just a cookie box.
I originally came up with the idea of 20 items in the box for $20. Over time, we concluded that 12 cookies and eight candy treats worked the best because everybody prefers the cookie part. It really took three or four versions to get to Gramma in a Box, mostly dealing with weight and making it cost-effective. It has been an incredible learning journey for me.
Yes, but I only ship across the US because my boxes have a 10-day shelf-life from the day I bake. I can’t ship to Canada or Mexico, although I’ve shipped successfully to Hawaii and Alaska. As it’s pretty hit and miss, I prefer to stick to the US for now. I currently have 800 customers in the US and the business is growing every day. We can’t consider retail because we only bake once a month.
We have a different theme every month. The model always stays the same but I will lean toward the obvious holidays such as Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc. For the rest of the year, where there are no designated holidays, I can use my imagination and come up with my own themes. I always plan about two months in advance.
I use the same cookie and frosting recipe every month and they are both non-proprietary in any way, shape, or form. I use a Betty Crocker sugar cookie recipe called White Velvet and I use royal icing for the frosting because it contains no dairy. It has a longer shelf-life and dries hard, so no smearing. The cookie shapes, the frosting colors, and the different themes change from month to month, which keeps it fun and innovative.
Stay connected to your grandchildren even if you can’t be with them.
We don’t necessarily realize it, but grandparents do have a lasting impression on their grandchildren. If you live near them, take them to school, take them to ballet, spoil them, and get involved. If you don’t live near them, find other ways to stay connected and be present in their lives.