Whether you're sending homemade treats to a neighboring town or across the country, here are some helpful tips to ensure it reaches its recipient in perfectly shipped shape.
Choose your gifts wisely. Do not mail highly perishable items such as dairy- or meat-filled foods. If you're sending baked goods, moist and firm, rather than brittle and delicate, ship well and arrive in the best form. Include a note on the best way to handle the food once it arrives. Holiday baked goods that travel well include:
- Cookies: To prevent cookies from breaking, create a cushion on the bottom of the container with crumpled wax paper or parchment, and then layer the cookies, wrapped in airtight wrap or in zippered plastic bags with crumpled wax paper in between. Separate crisper cookies from moister to preserve textures. Cookie tins are really ideal ? find them at craft and hardware stores and also at yard sales and flea markets (just wash them well first).
- Pound cakes, loaf breads, brownies and fudge: Bake in disposable foil pans and ship them in the pan. Cover the cooled pan with plastic wrap, place in a zip lock bag (leave air in the pan to act as a cushion, and then ship in a cushioned box. These baked goods may also be baked and shipped in decorative new pans, with the intention of including the baking pan as a gift, too.
- Cakes and candies: pack compactly in tins. Candies should be placed in cups or layered on cushioned papers. Make sure there is no headroom or the confections may crack or crush.
- Bottles of oils or vinegars or jars of chutney, sauces or jam: Before packing, make sure bottles are tightly sealed and packed in sturdy jars. Wrap the bottles or jars in bubble wrap and then place inside an air-filled zippered plastic bag. Pack the items in a shipping box lined with plastic wrap (a large plastic garbage bag works well), filled with crumpled newspaper, bubble wrap, foam peanuts or air-popped popcorn. Pack heavier items at the bottom of the box and make sure there is cushioning between each item. A good rule of thumb: Calculate two to three-inches of packing material on all sides for optimum cushioning. Pack the top of the box so there is no headroom or items may shift.
Always use sturdy, unused corrugated shipping boxes. Use packing tape to securely close the box. Fill out your labels with a waterproof pen. Mark the carton "perishable" and ship it via the fastest means possible.
Perfectly packed and properly shipped, you can be sure your treats will be welcomed with opened arms — and mouths.