Here are some pointers to ensure that cookies arrive at their destination as delicious and attractive as when they were baked.
Select cookies that ship well.
Select cookies that are sturdy, have a crunchy or hard texture and will last at least three days without loss of flavor. These will have less breakage and drying out will not be an issue since they already have a fairly dry texture. Cookies that have a slightly chewy texture also ship well but have a tendency to dry out and should be expressed shipped if mailing will take more than a week.
Sturdy bars and brownies, drop, slice and bake, molded, and sandwich cookies such as oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, biscotti, shortbread, Mexican wedding cakes, crisps, Springerle, macaroons, pignoli, Lebkuchen, fudge brownies, blondies, fig, date or fig bars, and peanut butter bars are good candidates. Bar cookies should be without soft icings.
Avoid cookies that do not ship well.
Avoid mailing cookies that are fragile, delicate, crisp or brittle such as, cutouts, meringues and Madeleines, or those requiring refrigeration such as cookies with custard or custard-like fillings or toppings, including cheesecake bars or Nanaimo bars since these are all prone to damage or spoilage during transit. Avoid cookies with soft icings as they become sticky at room temperature.
Wrap the cookies.
Bake and completely cool cookies just before packing and shipping, so they arrive as fresh as possible. Wrap similar cookies together to preserve their texture and flavor. Do not wrap crisp cookies and soft ones together since the crisp ones will get soft and the soft ones will get hard. Do not wrap cookies of different flavors together since each cookie will take on the flavor of the other.
To help the cookies stay fresh and intact, wrap them individually or in pairs of two with their flat sides together in plastic wrap, foil, waxed paper or individual cellophane bags. Wrap bars individually. Sticky cookies, such as brownies should also be individually wrapped. When wrapping chocolate-dipped cookies, wrap them paired with another chocolate dipped cookie. Have the chocolate side facing one another, with a small piece of waxed paper in between. Bar cookies can be baked, cooled and left in a foil or metal pan. Place a piece of waxed paper on top and wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Make sure the pan is cushioned inside the packaging container with crumpled wax paper, tissue paper or paper toweling layered below and above the pan.
Package the cookies in a durable box or tin.
Choose a durable cardboard box, metal or rigid plastic container for packaging the cookies. On the bottom of the container place a piece of bubble wrap, crumpled wax paper or paper toweling. Only use packing materials that are safe to use with food. Line the container with waxed paper, foil, parchment paper or plastic wrap leaving enough to tuck over the top once the container is fully packed.
Properly pack the cookies inside the box. Always position the sturdiest cookies at the bottom, separating each layer of cookies with a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. Place the wrapped cookies in snug rows stacked flat or on end inside the packaging container making sure that there is little space for them to shift. Do not overstuff the container so that they become crushed or too loose that they can be shaken or moved around.
Fill spaces between the cookies with crumpled wax paper. Cushion each row with a layer of cushioning material--crumpled wax paper, tissue paper, or paper toweling--so that the cookies will not have room to move inside the box. Continue this layering until the container is full. Leave room for a final layer of cushioning material on the top of the packing container.
Tuck the lining paper over the top, then place another piece of bubble wrap on top. Include the recipe as an added touch. Seal the container securely. Once the lid is closed there should be no movement inside of the container.
Package the cookie container in a shipping box.
Select a sturdy cardboard shipping box that is at least 2" larger than the cookie container. Before placing the container full of cookies in a shipping box, put enough packing material or shredded newspaper at the bottom for cushioning. Center the cookie container in the middle of the box. Overfill the sides and top with additional packing material making sure the cookie container is secure and there is no air space left in the box. Place a label on top of the cushioning material with the addresses of both the receiver and sender in the event the outside label is lost. Seal the outer box shut with packing tape that is strong enough to withstand mailing.
Label the shipping box.
Using a permanent marker clearly label the box with the addresses of both the receiver and the sender. Write "fragile", "perishable" and "this side up" on all sides of the box to encourage quick, careful handling. Special handling by the postal service can be requested. Cover the address label with clear tape for protection.
Mail or ship the package.
Mail or ship cookies early in the week to avoid the package from sitting in a warehouse over the weekend. Care packages sent to soldiers overseas must conform to specific military and postal requirements (check www.usps.com or www.anysoldier.com for mailing instructions). Select a carrier for mailing. There are many shipping providers. Some pick up for an added charge. Each has a variety of services available. All providers have a website where you can find information on what is offered, calculate shipping costs, find the nearest location, or locate the customer service telephone number.