10 Foolproof Steps for Mailing Cookies This Christmas

Homemade cookies are an always-welcome Christmas gift. But how do you mail cookies so they'll arrive fresh and unbroken? Planning, timing, cookie selection and packing methods are key.

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wrapping presents cookies

How to Package and Mail Cookies

Every December, bakers around the country spend the month whipping up cookies to give as gifts. They hand-deliver platters and tins to friends, neighbors and co-workers. But for folks who don’t live within driving distance, there’s an extra step: packing and shipping the cookies. What good is it to take all that care in baking, only to have the box arrive full of crumbs? Here are some of the key ways to get your cookies there safe and sound.

Check out our Christmas Cookies Baking Guide!

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short bread cookies
Taste of Home

Choose Cookies That Will Ship

Many of our best Christmas cookies ship like a charm. Go for hard, crunchy cookies, like shortbread cookiesbiscotti and kipplens (especially if you’re shipping them in hot weather). Slightly soft and chewy cookies, like gingersnaps and snickerdoodles also make the journey well, as do dense treats, like fudge brownies. And macaroons actually get better after several days.

Cookies that don’t ship well? Extremely delicate cookies, ones that require refrigeration and moist cookies topped with frosting, glaze or powdered sugar, like Key lime bars. Save these for a knockout in-person cookie plate.

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Close-up of the dial of a cooking timer
Ronald E Grafe/Shutterstock

Plan Ahead, So They’ll Be Fresh on Arrival

How do you ship cookies and keep them fresh? The aim is to ship them as soon as possible after the last batch cools, so they’re as fresh as possible. Schedule your baking with mailing in mind. If you’re making a variety of recipes, stagger the batches so you spend the first few days making dough that can be refrigerated, and the last stretch in a marathon of oven time. Many cookies, like our Cranberry Pecan Tassies, can be made in advance and frozen, but be sure they’re thawed before shipping—thawing releases moisture, which can wreak havoc inside an airtight container.

While it’s nice to get a surprise in the mail, let the recipient know to expect the cookies, which can minimize the time they spend waiting in the mailbox. (This is particularly important in warm locations.)

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Sugar Cookies on a Cooling Rack
Antonia Lorenzo/Shutterstock

Keep Them Cool and Dry

Make sure the cookies are completely cool before packing them up. Warm cookies (similar to frozen ones) will release moisture and age faster in the enclosed space. Store the cooled, baked cookies in airtight containers—plastic food containers or resealable plastic bags work beautifully—until you’re ready to pack them so they stay as fresh as possible. Always remember that the enemy of freshness is air!

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Freshly baked homemade Christmas cookies in a tin box, wooden background; Shutterstock ID 349993319
BlueOrange Studio/shutterstock

Choose Your Container

Start with these awesome DIY cookie packaging ideas. For the best luck in shipping cookies, your container should be airtight—think cookie tin or plastic food container. Make decorative tins even more airtight by layering plastic wrap over the cookies (overhanging the edge), before putting on the lid. If you’re using a decorative baker’s box, wrap the cookies inside in individual plastic bags or cellophane treat bags. Think ahead: choose your containers and then get your shipping boxes. (And yes, you do have to double-box.)

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Stretch wrapping film; Shutterstock ID 148334534
Swapan Photography/shutterstock

Use Plastic Wrap Liberally!

Put a cushioning layer of crumpled plastic wrap or waxed paper on the bottom of the tin. (If you want to use pretty tissue paper, add that first.) Layer cookies in order of weight, with the heaviest on the bottom. Keep types of cookies together—crisp with crisp, soft with soft—and separate with plastic. Otherwise, crisp cookies will absorb the moisture from your soft cookies, to the sad detriment of both. Individually wrap moist or strongly flavored treats, like our Triple Chocolate Peppermint Treats.

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Colorful gingerbread cookies on culinary parchment.

…Or Sometimes Use Parchment

You can also use parchment paper to separate your layers. Plastic wrap has a nice “bounce” to it, making it a good cushion, and effectively contains moisture, but parchment or waxed paper has a more elegant look and works well if you’re sending one type of cookie, or if you’re shipping frosted cookies, like our Vanilla-Butter Sugar Cookies. Frosting or glaze tends to soften over time and varying temperatures and can stick to plastic wrap.

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wrapping box holiday

Pack Cookies Snugly, but Don’t Cram Them In

Your cookies shouldn’t bounce around in the tin, but should have a bit of “give” so that they won’t break with pressure. As you fill your tin, use crumpled plastic wrap, tissue paper or parchment (pre-cut sheets work beautifully here) to fill spaces between the cookies and the top of your tin. After you’ve closed the tin, go ahead and gently shake it—if you hear any bouncing, you need more cushioning.

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Woman gives parcel in post office; Shutterstock ID 282916904; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Africa Studio/shutterstock

Choose Your Shipping Box

Your shipping box should be heavy-duty cardboard and larger than your container by at least an inch on each side. The USPS lets you choose your boxes online and have them delivered to your house for free. (Talk about a time saver!) Pack that extra space with bubble wrap, crumpled newspaper or packing peanuts. (The plain packing paper that movers use is perfect.) Tape up the box securely, and remember to mark it “Fragile!”

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SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MAY 25: Exterior signage on the front of the United States Post Office building in Scottsdale, Arizona on May 25, 2017.; Shutterstock ID 647502277; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Pick a Cookie Shipping Method

Whether you use USPS, FedEx or UPS, it’s wise to choose the fastest speed you can to make sure the cookies arrive while they’re fresh. The USPS’ flat-rate service may make sense if you’re shipping large boxes over a long distance. Price out shipping costs on the USPS website using the box size, weight and ZIP code origin/destination to find the best option. There are special guidelines for care packages sent to military personnel stationed overseas; you can find those at the USPS website as well.

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Africa Studio/shutterstock

Mail Those Cookies!

Now all that’s left to do is get your boxes to the post office. Depending on how many boxes you’re shipping, you may want to enlist a friend to serve as pack mule. Don’t worry—most are glad to help in exchange for a plate of homemade cookies!

Hazel Wheaton
Hazel is a writer and editor who has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years in the fields of travel, jewelry arts and food. As the editor of the Taste of Home Christmas Annual (among other titles), she's in the holiday spirit all year round. An enthusiastic baker, she's known for her cookies, cakes and other baked goods. And she still wishes she could cook like her mother.
Kelsey Dimberg
A former senior digital editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Chicago. Since 2010, she’s followed a gluten-free diet, and especially enjoys the challenge of baking sourdough bread and pizza dough. As a contributing writer for Taste of Home, she covers a broad range of topics but with a special emphasis on gluten-free cooking and baking. Outside of her gluten-free experiments in the kitchen, Kelsey is also the author of the thriller novel “Girl in the Rearview Mirror.”