Sending a fresh batch of cookies in the mail to family and friends this holiday season? Baking holiday cookies is only half the challenge; you'll need to wrap them carefully and, more importantly, select the right shipping method to ensure they arrive fresh. While most holiday cookies are shelf-stable for at least a few weeks, how you choose to ship your cookies may result in longer-than-necessary transit timelines. So, how should you ship your seasonal treats? We asked postal officials at the United States Postal Service for their advice.
There are many different postage options to consider when sending holiday gifts, but experts say Priority Mail is the best option for cookies that could become stale while in transit across the United States. Kimberly Frum, a senior public relations representative with the USPS, says that this shipping method is guaranteed to get your holiday cookies to its final destination within one to three days; even if you're shipping to remote areas or states like Hawaii or Alaska.
Unlike some other options at USPS, Priority Mail postage is charged with flat-rate pricing that depends on the size of the box you're using (it starts at just $7.35 per box). If you're extra anxious about the freshness of your cookies, there's an express option for this kind of package that guarantees overnight delivery.
Frum says Priority Mail at USPS needs to be packaged in the post office's boxes, which means you'll only have to worry about packing your cookies and not about the box they travel in. Arrange your cookies in individual airtight containers and wrap them snugly with tissue paper. You may even want to place them inside a sturdy cookie tin or another box before putting them inside the Priority Mail box. Be sure to select an appropriately sized box: A box without enough room will cause the cookies to become smushed, whereas a large box may leave too much space for cookies to rattle around in, resulting in crumbs. Try harnessing upcycled packing materials like shredded wrapping paper, bubble wrap, and foam peanuts to pack inside your box, as they can prevent cookies from shifting during transit. You can also use this tactic when packing other fragile gifts throughout the holiday season.
You don't have to wait in lines at the post office to get your hands on boxes, either: Frum says your local postman will deliver boxes to your door free of charge. In fact, you don't even need to haul all of your holiday cookies to a post office to ship them, as the USPS offers online services where you can print pre-paid labels. Pay for each one of your cookie care packages separately, and then ship them by simply requesting a pick up from a post carrier on their website—it's almost like having your very own Christmas helper at your fingertips.