Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.
When your child’s Girl Guide leader sends out that chirpy email announcing it’s “cookie time” again, doesn’t your heart just sink? Let’s face it: your little cherub isn’t the one who will be bribing and begging friends and family to take those boxes of crunchy goodness off her hands. And she couldn’t care less about the prizes they dangle for the top sellers (I confess, my daughters don’t even know prizes are up for grabs). It’s all us. And with one daughter in Brownies and one in Sparks, it’s double the demand.
Because that blessed cookie time comes twice a year here, I’ve had to develop some strategies to move those boxes out of my house. It’s a matter of survival for someone with an insatiable sweet tooth. We all know what happens if they just sit there in the hall. One minute, you’re lying on the couch watching TV and snacking on quinoa balls, and the next, propelled by forces you can’t control, you’ve inhaled one row and are debating finishing the second row just to disguise the evidence.
Or maybe that’s just me.
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Anyway, here’s how I deal with this lovely fundraiser without turning it into a huge personal donation to the Girl Guides of Ontario:
1. Set low expectations
I’m totally fine with being the Girl Guide underachiever mom. The answer to “How many cases do you want?” is one. Always one. Each case holds 12 individual boxes, and if my kids collectively sell more than 24 boxes, not only will I die of shock, but they can ask for more to sell. Which has never happened.
2. Don’t pay up front
Last time, my husband had this brilliant idea of avoiding the “hassle” of collecting money from cookie sales and putting it into envelopes: Just give the unit leader a cheque for the full amount, and then pocket the cash sales. First of all, the girls are supposed to be getting at least a little money-handling experience from this exercise. Secondly, knowing those cookies in the hallway are already paid for makes it much easier to crack one (then two, then three) open. Trust me on this.
3. Know your seasons
Where we live, the Girl Guides sell chocolate mint cookies in the fall, and the classic vanilla and chocolate ones in the spring. (I know, I wasn’t aware of this either.) I’ve learned that this leads to some serious disappointment. Both times. At our house, we’re crazy about the chocolate mint ones, but when I try to sell them to our family members they’ll only buy them begrudgingly. When I try to sell the chocolate and vanilla ones at work, they ask about the mint ones. Actually, whenever we’re selling one kind, everyone’s looking for the other. Maybe I should just keep it vague. When I deliver the goods, will people say no?
4. It’s worth the ask
Here’s something else I learned: People want to buy Girl Guide cookies. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor. I never used to want to bother my colleagues by asking, but that was a mistake. The office may be my biggest market now. I also didn’t want to bug our neighbours because we seem to be surrounded by people who don’t eat cookies (and they’re not just saying that; one neighbour bought a box from us last year and I recently saw it still sitting in her cupboard!). But when we branch out a little further down the street, many people are excited to shell out for cookies, and ask us to remember them next time. Who knew? I know we’re all averse to the door-to-door sales, but it may really pay off.
5. They freeze well
At least, this is what I hear. My mom buys the mint ones, but doesn’t like them, so she freezes them until Christmas so she can serve them to guests. She clearly has a willpower gene that she forgot to pass on to me because those delicious morsels would never survive a season in my freezer. But if you’re able to bury them under a heavy roast, wrap them in Christmas paper, or find some other way to forget they exist in your freezer, a small investment now could cut down on your holiday baking. It sounds good in theory.
6. Give them back
You might get the evil eye, but did you know that if you’re having trouble selling your cookies you can talk to your unit’s leader and they might offer to re-distribute them to the overachievers? There’s no shame, Mama. You did your best, and admitting defeat is much better than the alternative of scarfing down the surplus. You deserve a badge for that, as far as I’m concerned.
[Edited to add: I received a phone call today from a woman upset about this post, saying I was disparaging the Girl Guides organization and their fundraiser. So to be clear, this post was meant in fun. I’ve written several times about how much I love (and my girls love) being part of this organization. My motivation was really to call out my lack of willpower against their delicious cookies, and my subsequent need to get them out of my house as quickly as is humanly possible.]
What are your best strategies for participating in your kids’ fundraisers?