Gifts

How to Safely Mail Treats So They Arrive Fresh & Crumble-Free

Because a gift of cookie dust is probably not quite what you were intending.

November 30, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

Every year, at the start of December, my kitchen is transformed into a cookie making factory. I load up on butter, chocolate chips, nuts, vanilla extract, and the stand mixer is a permanent fixture on the counter because I’m making dozens of batches each day. I do this because I’m obsessed with cookies, and two, I make up tins for pretty much everyone I know. Teachers, friends, acquaintances, and even the mail and garbage man get a big ol’ tin of cookies as a way to tell them all how much they mean to me. It makes the end of the year pretty darn sweet, and I can’t imagine not doing it.

This year, I don’t have friends dropping by, I won’t be heading to the usual round of holiday parties, and I’m not really even meeting up for a friendly coffee. Hence, the opportunities to dole out my confections are limited. But that’s not stopping me. This year, I’m shipping far and wide so that no matter what, it still feels like the holidays. So, I stopped by my local post office to get the ins and outs of safely and effectively shipping baked goods because no one likes the way a cookie crumbles.

So, if you want your recipient to have a box of cookies and not crumbs, follow these steps:

Pick The RIGHT Cookie

While we all have our favorites, you need to be selective when choosing the cookies you will ship. While we all love a Linzer cookie or chocolate-dipped sugar cookie, delicate sandwich and dipped cookies do not travel well. Fillings can ooze, and dips can melt and smear, leaving your recipient with a bit of a mess. So, sturdy cookies are the way to go. Drop cookies like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter have a dome top and don’t crumble easily. Biscotti are perfect for travel as they have a long shelf life and are sturdier from the twice-cooked method.

Now That’s A Wrap!

Wrap cookies together, but don’t mix up varieties. You don’t want your chocolate chip cookie tasting like your peanut butter, so take two of a kind and stack them back to back. Then, wrap them up with some cling wrap or bee’s wrap. Wrapping them two by two maintains shape and avoids breakage. Biscotti can be bound the same way. If you decide to send bar cookies, add a piece of parchment between each piece. If you choose to send frosted cookies, buy bubble wrap sleeves to protect your frosting.

Grandma Knew What She Was Doing With Those Tins

Once they are all wrapped, get a lovely holiday tin out. Start with the sturdier/heavier cookies on the bottom and then stack up until there is very little space left. You don’t want any movement.

Popcorn Is Not Just For Movie Night

Once all is in the tin, my trick is to add some popcorn to all the little air crevices. Popcorn is the perfect cushion and also environmentally friendly. Another tremendous edible pillow is mini marshmallows! Just make sure you get all the air pockets and on the top and bottom of the tin. Once closed, give it a little shake to make sure nothing is moving around.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“She was excited because she had just heard about packing cookies in popcorn!!! What a mess!!!! 4 dozen broken sugar cookies wallowing around in salted and buttered popcorn. Of course, everyone ate them all up and I told her they were perfect. She was perfect”
— YaYa
Comment

Pick a box as close to your tin size as possible and load up the sides, top, and bottom with more popcorn and/or marshmallows. Secure the package and give it one last shake to make sure there is no room to groove.

Timing is Everything

My suggestion is to pick a Sunday to make all your cookies. Once they are thoroughly cooled (essential), you can pack them up and drop them off at your shipper of choice on a Monday morning. Why? Because, unless you choose expedited delivery, a Thursday or Friday night drop off might lead to the cookies hanging out in a warehouse over the weekend. Let’s keep those cookies moving! Finally, label the box FRAGILE, so our postal workers know they are carrying precious cargo.

I strongly suggest making this a family project because holiday cheer is more important than ever. Have fun and know your edible gifts will be appreciated more than any other kind of present. I can bet that nothing—not even a crumbled cookie!— will go to waste!

Most of us have come to terms with the disappointing fact that the holidays will look different this year. While we all brace ourselves for much smaller gatherings, maybe a group Zoom, and phone calls in the place of travel, I truly believe there are little silver linings folded in. We just have to look for them.

For one, there has been an enormous realization that human connection is our most cherished asset. Many of us, including me, never honestly thought about this until, well, we had to limit our social interaction. However, I have also realized interaction can come in many forms, and this year, I am focusing on ways to let my loved ones know that while we might not be together in person, we most certainly are in spirit.

What treats are you mailing to your loved ones this year? Let us know in the comments.
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Cookbook Author. Heirloom Kitchen.Food52 contributing editor & Recipe Tester.

24 Comments

leahshunt December 3, 2020
I've found another way to send round cookies is to stack them in a Pringles can. I then wrap the outside of the can in plastic to help with freshness. The cookies hold their shape beautifully.
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 4, 2020
what a creative idea! and my daughter LOVES Pringles!
 
cosmiccook December 6, 2020
What about paper towel cardboard rolls or poster tubes? I have a few recipes that suggest using the rolls to put your wrapped dough in them for easier slicing prior to baking.
 
YaYa December 3, 2020
When I was in college ( a hundred years ago!), my grandmother called to tell me was sending me a box of her homemade cookies. She was excited because she had just heard about packing cookies in popcorn!!! What a mess!!!! 4 dozen broken sugar cookies wallowing around in salted and buttered popcorn. Of course, everyone ate them all up and I told her they were perfect. She was perfect
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 4, 2020
She sounds perfect. What a special memory. Thank you for sharing.
 
Faith K. December 3, 2020
Your packing idea reminded of when I was little and my grandmother was sending clothing and household goods to one of the many Dutch families displaced when the Nazis bombed dikes and flooded the farmland in the Netherlands. Those boxes were packed in either powdered laundry soap or oatmeal!
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 4, 2020
Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman. Glad it brought back a memory of her. xo
 
Virginia H. December 3, 2020
I am on for these, they are perfect for those days you need an emergency cookie craving, I need to make my spicy gingerbread men and my Greek Kourambiedes first for Christmas.
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 4, 2020
Get baking! xo
 
Donna B. December 3, 2020
Thanks for putting some perspective as to how we can look at this holiday season. It will be different, but you are correct about the silver lining. Maybe we can add a little joy to someone else's life and let them know that we are thinking of them.
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 3, 2020
Thank you! It’s all about the silver linings! Happy holidays to you and yours
 
Ruth December 3, 2020
Agree with mailing them on Monday. But after you bake them Sunday, freeze them overnight. That way, they'll be one day fresher when your recipient opens the package.
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 3, 2020
that is a great idea!
 
Holly December 4, 2020
I bake and freeze at my leisure, then pack and mail frozen cookies- Takes the pressure off when baking in any quantity.
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 5, 2020
Great idea for low pressure baking!
 
amanda R. November 30, 2020
Where do you like to buy cookie tins?
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 2, 2020
I buy them wherever I can find them. Last year I was striking out all over and then found them at Walmart and bought up enough for two years! I think Michaels usually carries them too but you have to move fast!
 
Ellen M. December 3, 2020
I kid you not, the Dollar Store is the way to go. I buy close to 20 each year for cookie distribution. All shapes and sizes. $1 vs $6 or more at Michael's.
 
mitch1025 December 3, 2020
Also find them at Target, and Dollar stores (Family Dollar and Dollar Tree/General)
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 3, 2020
thank you for this HOT tip. Didn't think to look there. I'm always on the hunt for them.
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 3, 2020
thank you Mitch!
 
rhonda.m December 3, 2020
The dollar store is a great place to find them all year round
 
Author Comment
Anna F. December 4, 2020
Im on it! Thanks!
 
Juba244 December 6, 2020
Christmas Tree Stores have inexpensive great choices also