Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Cookie Logistics from Baking to Delivery

It is snowing hard here in western Massachusetts and the landscape is beautiful but the temps are not. 

It is frigid outside so what could be better, after having graded final exams (appropriately for a course in Logistics & Transportation) as well as paper projects on topics as varied as Cape Cod traffic improvements to transportation in Buenos Aires to the rotary in Haiti to cement logistics, to name just a few, to do something also very creative -- bake holiday cookies!

Baking and distributing holiday cookies has been a tradition in my family for several years and we have gotten quite skilled at it. Nice that we practice what we preach is terms of efficiency, as well!

Every year it seems that we get busier and busier both professionally and personally but one keeps traditions alive for neighbors and family and finds time to do what needs to be done.

The logistics involve planning, purchasing ingredients, scheduling the baking and decorating,  doing the baking and decorating, and, of course, outsourcing the dishwashing tasks and cleanup. 

Then it is time to do the packaging, the writing of the cards, and the deliverying. Timing of delivery is very important since we want to make sure that the recipients are at home.

As an operations researcher, whether by education (or lifeskills or osmosis as is the case with some of my family members, whose assistance I rely upon in this megaproject), I am well-versed in project planning (especially in network-based techniques), scheduling, finding the best route through the supermarket, and the best routes for cookie plate deliveries.

As for this year's holiday cookie "menu," for now, we have made the following cookies:

  • rum balls with walnuts (coincidentally, one of my former undergrad Operations Management majors at the Isenberg School emailed me that he made a batch for his office party this year and they were loved -- special to have students stay in touch even after graduation),
  • pecan sandies with powdered sugar,
  • Swedish jam-filled cookies from my Administrative Assistant's recipe at the School of Business, Economics an Law in Gothenburg that I spent the major part of my sabbatical at last year (thank you, Wivvian!),
  • cherry-filled almond cookies,
  • a variety of colored wreaths and candy-cane cookies, and
  • mitten butter cookies decorated with M&M's.

To be welcomed by warm smiles as the doors open and we deliver the plates of cookies is truly in the spirit of this season.

Happy Holidays to everyone!