Whether it's a care package for a college student, a goody box for someone in the military or a way to say happy birthday to a friend or relative, there's nothing like opening a box of fresh, homemade cookies. And if those cookies just happen to be that recipient's favorite cookies of all time, even better!
Here are tips to make sure your cookies arrive fresh and ready to enjoy, not as a pile of crumbs.
1. Always cool cookies before storing or packaging into a container. Packing warm cookies allows too much moisture to get trapped inside the package.
2. Certain cookies tend to ship better than others. Any cookie that requires refrigeration is not a good candidate for the mail. For example, do not mail cookies with custard, custard-like fillings or toppings like cheesecake bars. The custard could spoil, making yours a very unwelcome gift.
3. Cookies that have a crunchy or hard texture like biscotti, Mexican wedding cookes, crisps, springerle and shortbreads make excellent choices for mail delivery. They tend to be sturdy, so you don't have to worry too much about breakage. And since they already have a fairly dry texture, drying out isn't much of an issue.
4. Do not store soft cookies (like chocolate chip or oatmeal) with hard or crunchy cookies (like biscotti or shortbread). The moisture in the soft cookies will make the biscotti soft, and vice versa.
5. Package cookies in airtight, hard containers. Resealable plastic bags or wraps are not a good idea, unless you plan on hand-delivering.
6. Harder cookies tend to travel the best, but they may be subject to breakage if packed too tightly. They should be packed snuggly, not overstuffed or understuffed.
7. Delicate cookies, such as meringues, are not good candidates to ship. Choose sturdy, heavier cookies.
8. Cookies that have a slightly chewy texture, like chocolate chip, oatmeal, snickerdoodle and white chocolate-cranberry, also ship well. These cookies tend to dry out if they are in the mail for more than a week, so if their destination is far away, you might want to ship them by express mail to ensure that they arrive just as tasty as when they were baked.
9. If there is room in the container, fill spaces between the cookies with crumpled wax paper, which will keep moist cookies moist.
10. Pack the container or tin in a larger cardboard box for shipping. Place air-popped popcorn (no oil or butter, please) on the bottom, top and around the sides. Use a lot. Popcorn is cheaper and more biodegradable than shipping peanuts, and it won't crush like crumpled paper. You want to allow two inches of cushion between the container and the box on all four sides. If you don't have plain popcorn, use Bubble Wrap or shipping peanuts.
11. On the outside of the box, write "breakable" or "fragile" and "This Side Up!" You cannot be assured that your package will be handled as such, but adding this caution can't hurt.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at email@example.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.