En Casa is a Melbourne-based cookie company that creates alfajores, a rich and delicious traditional Argentinian cookie sandwich. Here, we chat with founder Paula Delapenna on how to navigate the busy holiday season.

What does a day in the life look like for you in the lead-up to the holiday season? What takes up most of your time?

Every day is different in the lead-up to the holiday season. But generally, I wake up very early and write down that day's priorities so I don't have to waste time thinking what to do next. As I batch-work, there are days that are fully dedicated to baking, others for photography, video and editing, some admin (my least favourite part) and last, the packaging days, which are quite fun to put everything together.

How do you get prepped and organised for the holiday period?

As I also have a 9-5 job at the moment, I have to be very organized when planning for busy periods. I swear by batch work, which helps me get organized and work more efficiently.

The first stage is planning and deciding on the alfajores (Argentinian cookies) flavours. Then, it's time to taste test all of them. Once I lock the perfect recipe, it's time for shooting and editing all the content that will go on socials, newsletter and website. I usually launch the marketing campaign a few weeks before the special date (in this case, Christmas) so I can start getting orders ahead of time, which helps with planning. When it gets closer to the date, there are allocated days for baking, decorating and then packaging and shipping.

What has been the most transformational business practice or productivity hack you’ve implemented to help you during this busy time?

Lists! I couldn't run a business without making lists of everything: ideas, photography inspo, baking ingredients I need, anything and everything! As a visual person, this really helps to have a clear idea of priorities and tasks to get done on specific days. Besides, nothing compares to the feeling of crossing them out of those lists!

How do you manage customer expectations around the holidays?

In order to reduce the number of emails and DMs around busy times, it helps to include as much detail as possible (shipping info and dates, allergens, packaging, etc.) everywhere: on the home page, in each product's description, on Instagram, out in the newsletter... There are always people that don't read everything and reach out with a question (or complain) but luckily it's the least of my customers. Having everything laid out is amazing support during hectic times.

What’s the most enjoyable part of the seasonal rush?

I appreciate (and do a little cheeky dance) when I get to see my customer's happy photos of their unboxing experience and comments about my sweet bites of delight. Especially during these social distancing times, it is an honour to be able to help people spread the holidays love and act as a bridge between them and their family, friends and coworkers.

What about the least enjoyable?

I try to enjoy the whole process, but the least favourite part is sorting the shipping. With so many orders and shipping labels, making sure everyone will get their orders with the customised message and sent to the correct address at the due time is quite a demanding and stressful moment.

Any finals tips or tricks on how to navigate this busy time of year?

Enjoy the process! I try to keep this in mind every day in the run to the season. Every step (till the last detail) contributes to making people happy and getting them closer to their loved one during such emotional and important time, so constantly reminding myself why I'm doing this helps with all the stress and pressure.

Check out more of En Casa's cookies on its website.