Sometimes, geography gets in the way of spending the holidays with the ones you love. But you can still send some seasonal cheer and share your food and cooking skills by shipping baked goods to friends and family who are far away.
Photos via CakeSpy
To ensure that your sweets arrive at their destination intact and not just a pile of delicious crumbs, here are some helpful tips on the best way to ship cookies, whether your destination is near or far. We'll discuss not only the best type of treats to ship, but also how to pack cookies for shipping to ensure a safe arrival.
Let's start with the cookies. What types of cookies can be shipped?
Consider shelf life, because these cookies are going to be in transit and will arrive days or weeks after they've been baked.
For long distance shipping (a week or more):
The best type of cookies for shipping long distances are firm, slightly dry cookies. Examples include firm cutout sugar cookies, biscotti, shortbread or crisp gingerbread. Cookies iced with royal icing will typically hold up well. Ship cookies with nuts using caution: nuts can go rancid quickly, and that could affect the flavor of everything in the box.
Short distance or express shipping (less than a week)
If you're only shipping a short distance, or are paying extra to ship express, softer cookies, bar cookies, brownies and blondies, and cookies with nuts will likely fare just fine.
Cookies that are not well suited for shipping
As much as you may love soft and gooey cookies, unfortunately, they are not the best candidates for shipping. The same moisture that makes them so delicious can actually make them spoil faster in transit. Cookies with soft icing are also ill-suited to shipping, as you cannot guarantee the temperatures through which the cookies will travel. A package full of melted buttercream might smell good, but it won't have the impact you desire.
Cookies such as pie crust cookies or snowballs, which are very crumbly, are also ill-suited to shipping, as even gentle vibrations from trucks or carrying in transit can reduce them to crumbs.
Meringues, and bars or cookies that require refrigeration, are strongly discouraged.
For shipping cookies, you'll need:
Two boxes: one to pack the cookies in (the inner box), and a shipping container (the outer box). The inner box can be a food-safe box or cookie tin. The outer box should be a sturdy cardboard box, and it should be noticeably larger than the box the cookies are in, because you want room for at least 2 inches of packing material on all sides of the cookies.
You'll also need the following:
- parchment paper
- food-safe bags or freezer bags
- plastic wrap
- aluminum foil
- packing material (tissue paper, ribbon, bubble wrap or even popcorn packed in bags)
First, you'll want to package your cookies.
Ensure that they are baked and fully cooled, and that icings have had a chance to set.
Pack the cookies in the tin or box.
You'll want to keep cookie types segregated so that they do not absorb flavors from other cookies. Pack the cookies in freezer bags or food-safe bags. Small cookies, such as shortbread, can be stacked in short rows and wrapped in plastic wrap. Larger cookies may be individually wrapped in food-safe plastic bags. If the cookies are iced, you may want to place a piece of parchment paper over the iced portion.
Use tissue paper to stuff any portions of the tin that seem empty or a little jiggly -- if you lightly shake the box or tin, you shouldn't hear any shaking about. Keep in mind that any shaking you do is probably much lighter than the jostling your parcel will experience in transit.
With your inner box packed, now it's time to make it secure.
Wrapping it in plastic can help protect the cookies from any moisture that finds its way into the outer box; an outer layer of foil around the plastic ensures that the plastic will stay in place. At this point, if you'd like, you can gift wrap the cookie box or tin. A pretty bow makes things festive, and handmade gift tags are a sweet touch.
Wrap the secured cookie box or tin with bubble wrap.
This is your first level of insulation.
Now, it's time to get the box settled in its shipping carton.
First, line the bottom of the parcel. You can do this with packing peanuts, crushed paper or a couple of sheets of bubble wrap. Place the bubble wrapped parcel in the center. Now, fill in the sides and top of the package. You can do this with more bubble wrap, scrunched-up paper, packing peanuts, or (the author's favorite) bags of popped popcorn -- which means that the recipient now also has a snack to give them energy to unpack the cookies.
Fill the box securely and fully with the packing material.
When you shake the outer box, you shouldn't feel anything jiggling about.
Don't forget to place a card or note in the box.
Put a sheet of paper with the recipient's name and address inside of the box, too. If the label gets destroyed, it may still make it to its intended destination.
Interested in spreading some sweetness this holiday season?
AdoptaPlatoon is an organization that coordinates sending care packages to U.S. troops stationed abroad. Their Christmas Stockings from Santa to our Troops campaign allows you to share holiday cheer with a soldier overseas. Once you submit an application, you will be given the address of a soldier overseas, and you can set to making merry. But don't delay--the deadline for mailing a care package is December 12, 2013. For more information, visit the Adopt-a-Platoon Web site.
Interested in participating?
It's easy! All you have to do is make or purchase a Christmas stocking, fill it up with special treats, and pop it in the mail (be sure to attach a Craftsy gift tag, too!) Learn more about the Christmas Stockings from Santa program. If you are interested in sending a stocking, simply fill out the new supporter application form. You must include the word "STOCKING" in the comments box on the application form. The Adopt-a-Platoon Team will contact you with the name and address of a soldier overseas. The deadline for mailing is Thursday, December 12, 2013.