As we get closer to the holidays, what could be a better time to send a care package filled with lovingly baked items?
Not only do care packages let your loved ones know that you’re thinking of them, the treats inside are instant pick-me-ups! Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned care package giver, here are some tips for putting together and shipping a box of tasty goodies.
• The Right Stuff. It’s the holidays, so everybody wants to eat something festive. To fit the season, choose classic treats like gingerbread, fudge, pumpkin bread, and hot chocolate or foods that are made with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. And remember, sturdy treats like cookies, brownies, quick breads, and non-fragile candies are better for shipping than delicate sweets that can easily fall apart.
• The Right Size. Small-to-medium cookies that are at least ¼-inch thick survive rough handling better than large, thin cookies. Shape cookie dough into 1-inch balls with your hands or with a cookie scoop before baking.
• Plan Ahead. Shipping services can be overloaded over the holiday season, causing transport delays (and long lines!). Avoid the mess by planning ahead and sending a package early. No one will be complaining that your famous gingersnaps came before Thanksgiving!
• It’s a Wrap. Once you’ve baked and cooled your treats, pack them in zip-top plastic bags or airtight containers. For a festive look, look for seasonal containers, unique tins and jars, and goodie bags at craft or housewares stores. Try using clear or colored cellophane paper to wrap cookies or brownies. When secured with a ribbon, they can transform ordinary goodies into little works of art. And if you are sending more than one item, pack each type of treat in its own packaging to keep moisture content consistent and prevent mingling flavors.
• Include a Note or Card. Sending a personal note can bring a smile to anyone’s face. No need to say something profound, but a few quick words can give your package a personal touch.
• Stuff It. Don’t let the treats you spent so much time preparing turn into a crumbly mess after shipping! To ensure that everything arrives intact, insulate the boxes with plenty of stuffing. Choose from crinkle paper, bidegradable peanuts, or old newspapers, or even clothing. Pack at least 2 inches of cushioning around each item and at least 2 inches of cushioning from the wall of the box. It might sound fun, but avoid using real popcorn, as it can attract unwanted pests.
• Boxes, Boxes, Boxes. To protect all your treats, pack in corrugated cardboard boxes. They are great because they’re lightweight but can survive rough handling. Buy them at office supply or discount stores, or better yet, reuse an old box that’s still firm and rigid. Use strong tape such as plastic packaging or nylon-reinforced filament. These work better than duct or masking tapes, which aren’t strong enough for shipping.
• Have Fun. And last, but not least, make it enjoyable! Get a group of friends together for a baking or packing party. It sure beats fighting the crowds at the mall.