Welcome to the madness that is Girl Scout Cookie Season!
It may be your first; it may be your 40th. It may just feel like it’s your 400th.
Either way, Girl Scout Cookie Season is here. Let’s do this!
I try to take a relatively relaxed approach to cookies, and even I get burned out by the end of the season. I do feel like my council’s cookie season goes on an awfully long time; we have pre-orders, regular orders, and booth sales, so our season runs about 14 weeks. That’s long, right??? It’s just a LONG time to deal with cookies and all the assorted headaches.
First and foremost…
I really don’t know which cookie pairs best with which wine, but stock up! The reality is that cookie season definitely will come with some unexpected bumps in the road, so just relax and hang in there!
I thought I’d knock out a list of cookie sale tips, both for myself (gotta refresh the memory from last year), and to be helpful to any other leaders who may be going through it.
- Look for games and activities to get your girls informed about the cookies before booth sales begin, and before they approach customers. We play “Cookie Guess Who,” so if you’ve ever played the regular “Guess Who” game, you know you have to ask yes or no questions to figure out the characteristics of each person. Same concept, but with cookies. I print out pictures of the cookies and tape them randomly to girls backs. Don’t ask me why, they just get such a kick out of this. I usually throw in some wild cards like “kitten,” which just makes them get so silly with it and they have a blast. Another game we play a lot is when I tape pictures of the cookies around a large room and call “find Thin Mints,” and they have to run and tag the cookie. You can make it harder by calling things like “find caramel!” We also do cookie skits. We’ve done cookie twister but that one is a lot of work and I’m lazy! I’ll add a few printables for these items at the end of the post.
- If you need a cookie parent, ask people one on one. Don’t just send an email to the troop and expect someone to jump at the chance. With an email (or post on Facebook, or post on Band), it’s easy for everyone to assume *someone* will reach out to you. If you ask someone directly, face to face, you are more likely to get a positive response. If you do ask someone, consider who you are asking; don’t ask the mom who works two jobs and a lot of overnight shifts. We’re all busy! But be realistic. Let the person know you’ll be helping them manage things as well.
- My council requires 2 unrelated adult volunteers to a maximum of 4 girls at a booth. Your council may have different requirements but don’t have too many girls, and have a job (kapers) for each girl. Our booths are scheduled in 2 hour blocks so I try to have 4 girls and assign them each a job, then they rotate every half hour. Jobs are: Greeter (usually like to have two girls out with signs waving and interacting with people), tallying & restocking (someone needs to keep track of how many of each type of cookie are sold), and money manager (taking money, making change). With little girls I’d have one adult standing behind the girls at the table able to help, and one adult off to the side near where the girls greeting are. With older girls the adults both just stand behind the table and try to let the girls do as much of the work as possible.
- Do a cookie booth! Or more than one. Honestly cookie booths are the easiest way to sell cookies and have so many advantages. They have a definite start and end time, for one thing! Plus so much good stuff for the girls. When I first started in Girl Scouts I moaned and groaned and wondered aloud if we couldn’t just donate some money and opt out of cookies. But now I’m a convert. I’ve been doing this long enough to see so many girls gain so many skills and confidence by interacting with strangers in this context. Selling Girl Scout cookies is one of those things where 90% of people are, at the very least, going to be courteous when they reply. I’ve seen girls go from hiding under a table to asserting themselves with strangers. Quickly. We cannot legally require girls to sell cookies; but I ask each girl to attend at least one cookie booth for the experience.
- That said, the girls have to be DOING THE WORK for them to get the benefit. I was both shocked and horrified when I came upon a cookie booth of Brownies last year who were sitting on the floor behind the table playing with literal dolls they had brought. Their parents were running the booth. This is a huge no-no in my council. The rules may vary in yours, but girls are supposed to be doing things themselves. Even Daisies can learn to say “Hello, would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” Yes, it’s a process. Yes, they will need help (some of them). Yes, Daisies are going to be more hands on. But every year, our job as leaders (and let’s face it, as parents) is to get LESS HANDS ON and let them do more. The more we step in and do things FOR THEM (which is different from helping) the less they learn, the less they care about Girl Scouts, the less invested they are in their own troop. Don’t do it *for* them. Help them, encourage them. When my girls were Daisies and a customer walked up, I would whisper to them what to say! Over and over. (And over.)
- Get a credit card reader! Just do it! The fees are not my favorite, but we sell much more by having credit cards as an option. And it’s sooooooo satisfying when someone says “Oh, sorry, I don’t have any cash,” to respond “that’s ok, we take credit cards!” (Your council may have rules about this so, as always… check with your council. OR your council may have a relationship with a company that will let you use their reader for free, so definitely definitely CHECK.)
- Set limits and boundaries for yourself; not just with cookies but with everything in life, but seriously with cookies. Tell parents the days they can pick up cookies and stick to it. Be flexible but not a doormat!
- Decorate! The troop should shell out a few bucks to get a few cookie booth supplies; a Girl Scout green tablecloth and a few posters designed by the girls do a lot to brighten up a booth! On the other hand, don’t go crazy, and remember to let the girls decide theme and do as much of the actual decorating as possible.
- Get people interacting by having a “voting” poster. We made one with a section for each cookie and customers could vote for their favorite by putting a sticker there. (Thin Mints and Samoas are head to head!)
- I keep a cash box for the girls to make change from with less than $30 in it. The rest of the money is hidden in an inside pocket of my coat. It’s astonishing and disturbing to me how often people try to rob cookie booths! My girls are Cadettes now, mostly, so they can make change on their own. When they were Daisies/Brownies, I would make the change but *hand it to them* so they could give it to and count it out for their customer. Remember, they need to do as much as possible.
- At the beginning of, or before, the sale, have the girls talk about what they want to do with their cookie money as a troop. We have mostly just talked out our ideas and haven’t usually had to vote, but a few times we’ve voted. It’s hard when someone’s ideas don’t get votes but it’s part of life… and the troop is girl led so my feeling is that if a girl really wants to do a thing, she should start brainstorming ways to make it happen. No need to accept defeat! Once they have decided what the cookie money will be used for, encourage them to talk to their customers about it. People are more likely to buy if they know what the goal is. My girls love camping and camping is inexpensive so that’s been our goal many times!
- Do walkabouts! That’s where I pile cookies into a wagon and wander and knock on doors. Well, I don’t. The girls do. We did this last year towards the end of the sale with multiple girls. Myself and my co-leader took a carful of girls and cookies to a neighborhood and we watch them as they knocked on doors, then they could run back to the car and get the cookies. Just remember that you need to be close by your girls at all times, especially the littles. (When my girls were little I stayed with them as they went up to the door. I just took a step back while they sold, wrote down the order, etc. YMMV on that, depending on their writing skills and ability. Meet them where they are.)
- I’m sure I’m forgetting somethings because that’s all part of cookie season, so if you have other things that help you keep your sanity while the cookies fly, please leave a comment and let me know!
Here are the printables! Please enjoy these for personal use only.
Cookie Skits PDF
Print this out, cut them into squares, and let the girls have fun acting out customers and girls selling.
When my girls are selling door to door, I give this “menu” to them so they can hand it to the customer while they write the order down on their order form. Otherwise, the customer will be looking at the order form and picking things out and trying to tell the girl what they want at the same time; or worse yet, the customer will write their order themselves. We want the girl to do it, for one thing… and for another, not every customer has good handwriting! These only work if you also sell Little Brownie Baker cookies. I left the prices blank so you can fill in the prices, every council has different prices!