The holidays are shaping up to look a little different this year than they normally do. While one of the true joys of the holidays is baking cookies for the ones you love, you may not be spending the holidays with some, or all of those loved ones this year. And, you may be looking for ways you can send some love to family that you might not be able to see this year.
If you always bake cookies for the ones you love, and you won't be seeing them, then you may want to ship them cookies. While you can always order cookies online through the bakery here, there may be certain ones you bake that may make Christmas that much more special. Or maybe just the fact that you made them yourself is a present in and of itself. You can check out my books here, if you're looking for some cookie baking inspiration!
So, you decide to bake cookies for your family that is far, far away. You may be wondering, how do you safely ship cookies to them for the holidays? There are many factors that go into preparing holiday cookies to mail to family and friends. And I'm going to give you some tips and tricks for baking, packing, and sending cookies to the ones you love this year.
What cookies should I bake for shipping to family?
The first thing I'm going to cover is the type of cookies to bake. There are certain cookies that excel at being shipped, while there are others that don't. And it's pretty simple here, ship the ones that excel at shipping, don't ship the ones that don't. Shipping cookies that don't do well in transit is just a waste of time, especially during the holidays! The delivery guys can get even more nuts this time of year, so I leave nothing up to chance. You don't want your family to receive a box of crushed cookies or even worse, crumbs... Do everyone a favor, and stick to the cookies that will arrive as cookies.
So, let me break it down for you. The main thing is if the cookie is very fragile, such as meringues, Florentines, crack butter cookies - think of very thin cookies that are breakable or just cookies that are fragile, then don't ship them. Also, don't ship any cookies that are coated completely in powdered sugar - I know, I know, YiaYia Cookies are a staple for Christmas in my house and in yours it may be Snowballs, but these are not for shipping people. Sometimes these are some of the best cookies to eat, but that doesn't mean they should be shipped! Leave these babies at home for you and your household to enjoy. Don't send them out into the world to die.
So what cookies are safe to ship? Traditional soft and chewy cookies like a classic chocolate chip, shortbread cookies, biscotti, sandwich cookies, sugar cookies, cookie bars, and almost any kind of butter cookie. So, there's plenty of cookies to choose from when shipping cookies! Here are some links to some of my favorite holiday cookies on the blog, all of which I'd recommend for shipping.
Soft & Chewy Cookies
How should I package holiday cookies to ship?
After you've chosen which cookies you'll be baking to ship, the next step is making sure you have the right packaging to ship them properly. Now, this step is fairly easy if you pay attention to which type of cookie you're sending. There is one simple rule that should be followed at all times, even if you're just storing cookies at home. And that rule is:
If the cookies are soft or chewy then they need to be stored in an airtight container so they stay soft and chewy. If the cookies are crisp or crunchy then they can be left out or stored in something that is not airtight.
This is the standard rule for most all climates. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. And that exception is if you live in a very humid environment or if you're shipping to a very humid environment. If that's true, then ALL cookies need to be stored in an airtight container, so it really just makes it easier to remember. So if grandma lives in Florida, then you're in this group.
Safe ways to package soft and chewy cookies would be (or any cookies if you're in a humid climate):
- Airtight glass cookie jar, like the one here
- A cute plastic airtight canister, like the one here
- Tupperware, like the one here
- Ziploc bag - not the prettiest option, but it will do!
These are all great options to ship soft and chewy cookies. And, if you're wondering if plastic wrap will work, the answer is no! Plastic wrap is okay for maybe one day to keep something covered. But, not to ship cookies for a few days in transit and then also for people to open, eat, and try to wrap back up. Stay away from that, and it's wasteful!
Safe ways to package crispy and crunchy cookies would be:
- Coffee bags, like the ones here
- Tins, like the ones here
- Cellophone bags that you can tie closed with a cute ribbon, like the ones here
If you're wondering if a bakery box would do, the answer is no. While it would be great to gift your next door neighbor, bakery boxes will start to get greasy after a few hours. Imagine what would happen during days of transit, that would not be a pretty site to open up as a gift. Definitely use bakery boxes for DIY Cookie Boxes for friends that are local, but not for shipping.
*Of the cookies I listed above, the Soft & Chewy Cookies and the Cookie Bars are the groups that would be considered soft and chewy. And, the Shortbreads, Biscotti, Sandwich Cookies, and Butter Cookies are crispy and crunchy.
When should I bake my cookies for shipping?
Once you have the cookies chosen and the supplies ready to package, you may wonder when you should bake your cookies for shipping. The answer to this is so simple - always bake on a Sunday! If you bake on a Sunday, then you should prepare everything that day to have it ready to ship the following day, on Monday.
Cookies need enough time to cool and you'll need time to package them properly and wrap or decorate your gift, as well as write holiday cards, etc. This should all be done in one day, not multiple days as cookies are a fresh and perishable gift. You should always plan to bake the day before you're shipping.
But, Mimi, why do I need to bake on a Sunday? Can't I just bake on a Wednesday and ship them on Thursday? The answer is no you may not, not unless you're paying for overnight shipping. Baking cookies can be an inexpensive way to give someone a special gift. However, if you add in buying the pretty jars, wrapping them, and paying for overnight shipping your price tag can sky rocket. So, here's the trick, if you ship on Monday it will pretty much guarantee your cookies will not sit over a weekend with standard shipping. This is super important people! You've gone through all the trouble and time to bake something amazing, so you want to give your gift the best chance for survival and arrival. Having cookies sit in a shipping facility for 2 whole days is unnecessary and will only hurt the cookies. So, this is why you should always ship on a Monday, especially if you're using the post office to send them! And if at all possible, do not use the post office, please I beg you. Spend the few extra dollars and go with UPS or FedEx, as those services are guaranteed, and you'll actually receive a refund if your box doesn't arrive on time. The post office is an absolute shit show during the month of December (and pretty much the rest of the year), stay away from it.
If you really can't ship on a Monday, and it must be Tuesday or Wednesday or heaven forbid Thursday... Please look at this shipping rate schedule and use it so your cookies arrive freshly and safely.
Cookies Shipped on a Monday
Can use UPS Ground or FedEx Ground as most arrive in 3 to 4 days. It gives you up to 5 days for a delay in transit. But, you can also use 3 Day, 2nd Day, or Overnight.
Cookies Shipped on a Tuesday
Can use UPS Ground or FedEx Ground and you might still be okay, but you'll even better if you can upgrade to just the 3 Day service, 2nd Day, or Overnight.
Cookies Shipped on a Wednesday
Please, for the love of Santa Claus, choose 2nd Day or Overnight!
Cookies Shipped on Thursday
NOT RECOMMENDED! If you must do this, Overnight is your only option. But, if there's a delay (weather, or crazy delivery guy issues, you never know during the holidays) then your cookies are sitting over the weekend and well into the end of next week with standard shipping.
Cookies Shipped on a Friday
Might as well send coal, as your cookies are on their way to being stale after sitting in a lonely warehouse for 2 unnecessary days before they are even able to start traveling to their destination, which could possibly take the whole following week.
Also, make sure you adhere to shipping cut off times. Every carrier has a cut off time for when packages will actually ship out that day. Most post offices cut off is around noon. And most FedEx and UPS places are around 2 P.M. So, make sure to call your local shipping facility and ask them when the cut off is to ship that day. You can't bring a box somewhere at 4:30 P.M. and expect it to go out that day. You might has well have shipped it the following morning.
How do I pack the box with the cookies?
You've made it this far. You baked cookies, you packaged them, and you're on track to ship in a timely manner - go you! Santa is going to bring you some goodies this year! Now, you just need to pack the box and send it out.
If you've packed cookies in a plastic airtight container, Ziploc bags, coffee bags, or cellophane bags then feel free to wrap them in tissue paper well, you can tie with a ribbon too for a festive touch! None of these packaging vessels are extremely breakable, so wrapping them well in tissue paper and securing your box with tissue paper will work. You can also use bubble wrap as well, but if you have the right box size and use tissue paper well enough then it's not necessary. Make sure the cookies are tight within the box and they're not moving around easily, that means getting a box that is just a tad larger than your gift.
If you've packed cookies in any type of glass cookie jar, Tupperware, or tins then I would highly recommend using bubble wrap to wrap these breakable containers in the box. While the tin is not breakable, tin lids can easily pop off (and we don't want that happening) and they can also get dented. The tin is a great reusable option, so it shouldn't get damaged. Also, make sure the cookies are securely inside the box and not getting jostled around.
Once you drop off your box at your designated shipping facility, you have done it, you've successfully shipped holiday cookies! Congrats, and I hope that your friends and family are so delighted when they get a beautiful box of cookies from you! Now, I think you deserve a cookie yourself... or seven.