I did it again. I’m Cookie Mom for Little Miss’s Girl Scout troop this year. I agreed partly because no one else was going to do it and partly because I love spreadsheets – and there are plenty of spreadsheets involved in coordinating the cookie sales across girls. And partly because I still have that giant “SUCKER” sign on my forehead that flashes constantly.
There’s also the fact that Little Miss loves selling Girl Scout cookies. She loves going door to door, telling me that it’s more fun than Halloween trick or treating. How can I resist helping her out? She’s set a goal that I know she won’t reach this year (she wants to sell 500 boxes of cookies), but that’s ok. She loved taking orders from our neighbors and family and friends. She enjoyed telling them what cookies she thought they should order (“Samoas – unless you don’t like Samoas, because they have coconut in them”) and figuring out how much they owe ($4 for boxes of cookies and $5 for the new snack bars). I’ll be honest that I enjoyed going door to door with her and watching her work her magic.
Now comes the slightly less fun part.
I’ve placed the initial order for all the girls and calculated how many cookies each ordered. I showed up at the delivery location and picked up my 72 cases of cookies and snack bars. Amazingly, they somehow all fit into my car.
I’ve got the rest of it down to a science. Or most of it anyway. The good news is that sorting the cookies by girl isn’t a hard task. Having another mom help me sort the cookies is a huge help. Before the cookies come, I write the total number of boxes of each kind of cookie on a separate piece of paper for each girl. We simply pick up a piece of paper, grab the appropriate number of boxes and place them in a corner of my family room, then move to the next year. I compare the number of boxes left over with the report on the online system to make sure I’m on track. The other mom and I then work to verify each girl’s order – one reading the number of boxes by type, the other counting. I haven’t gotten it 100% correct yet the past two years, but we’ve caught the few errors each time by doing this triple check!
Next up is getting Little Miss’s cookies ready for delivery. I’ve found the best way is to use Post-It notes. With Little Miss only in second grade, I’ll do this chore for her for another year or two before she’s in charge of sorting her order for delivery – I just don’t trust her accuracy quite yet! I sit with the order sheet, surrounded by boxes. I start at the top of the order form and write on the Post-It note the name of the person who ordered, the address, what they ordered, and the amount they owe or whether they paid. I fill the orders as I go, placing them in piles based on delivery – drop offs at school, our neighborhood separated by street, friends we will have to meet up with, etc. That makes it quick to grab a pile for delivery, depending on where we’re headed at any given moment – knowing I have the right orders and not scrambling to find the order on the order sheet to see what they ordered or whether they already paid us.
I’ll admit it. This is the part I don’t like. I’m all good with bringing the cookies to our friends and family. And with dropping them at school. But it’s February in Chicago, and it’s just snowed again. We don’t try to carry all the boxes through the neighborhood. Instead, we load them into our wagon by street and deliver – often repeatedly before someone is home. Ever tried to pull a wagon through a snow-covered sidewalk? It isn’t easy, but it’s better than trying to carry the boxes by hand. That’s our task for this weekend, and Little Miss is happily looking forward to it.
Me? I’ll be glad to have the boxes out of my family room. But I still have 210 other boxes of cookies in my dining room waiting for our cookie booths that start next weekend (those, happily, I enjoy staffing, as does Little Miss) and customers who call or email begging for more cookies. She’s already sold another 15 boxes from customers who “need” more. And the new snack bars? They actually look better than I was afraid they would – and apparently people agree, as I’m now out of them. Whew!
So yes, it’s cookie season. And I’m drowning in Girl Scout cookies – at least for another month or so. But you know what? I’m ok with that because Little Miss and her friends are learning some great skills that will serve them well in life. They’re learning to sell themselves and a product. They’re practicing math and manners. They’re learning responsibility and commitment, and oh so much more. And that’s worth the pain of dragging a wagon through the snow. Don’t you think?
What are your secrets to making Girl Scout cookie season work for you?