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 it’s closed, give it a little shake to make sure nothing is moving around.
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.
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