Your tips for shipping goodies, please
Getting geared up for holiday baking and would appreciate your tips and tricks, past experiences, and general advice. Shipping from Califonia to N Carolina, Colorado, and Arizona. Probably buttery cookies, some chocolate candies. Nothing uber-delicate or fussy.
I stocked up on tins and and have access to boxes and packing peanuts and bubble.
What kinds of items do you find travel best, and what are your favorite packing tricks?
Feel free to post recipes for good travelers.
My big tip is vacuum pack stuff. I have sent:
• fragile cookies -- they get much more sturdy when they're sealed into a block. To do that, freeze them first, pack cardboard between layers and just vacuum until the bag and the cookies make contact.
• moist tea breads -- they stay fresh across the continent and don't get stopped at the northern border. Same packing instructions.
• jams in glass jars. These made it to Europe without any breaks (and if they had they would have been contained in a leakproof bag) and without alerting customs.
the less crumbly, the better. those buttery cookies might not fare so well, but things like biscotti, quick breads, muffins, spiced nuts, trail mix, and bar cookies (brownies, blondies, etc) will hold up nicely.
also, *please* forget about the styrofoam packing peanuts. they're terrible for the environment, and they make a huge mess and stick to everything. it drives me insane when someone sends me a package with those things inside! you're better off with bubble wrap or crumpled magazine or newspaper...or if you can find my new favorite, the air-filled packing cushions/pillows.
Everyone is local for us, so I don't ship what I bake (yet), but for years, my grandmother shipped me cookies & asstd. goodies at Christmastime. She used tins to pack the cookies (buttery ones and also bar cookies) - layered waxed paper in between the layers of cookies. She used wadded up newspaper to keep stuff from shifting within the bigger box and she packed stuff in really tightly. She always scrawled "FRAGILE" in big Sharpie all over the thing (never sure if anyone paid attention to this!). But rarely did things arrive broken. So nothing fancy to report . . . and oh, the memories of receiving that box after a late night at the office - priceless. Enjoy making people happy!
I buy plastic containers with lids that are sized so that they fit almost snuggly or completely snuggly into a "flat rate" United States Post Office square box without too much space around it or in the depth. Then I buy that shiny, basket tinsel stuff that they sell by the large bag at all the craft stores. I put tinsel into the container, at the bottom and up the sides. Then I put the cookies in and put more tinsel. I tape the lid of the container down, securely. I put the container into the post office box. Then, if necessary, I pack paper around the container to hold it still. I send out about twenty boxes a year.
The trick is to pack tightly, the looser everything is, the more likely to break. Put tissue paper inside the cookie tin. Don't use a too big box, just big enough for a little stuffing all around. I make all kinds of cookies, most butter based, also rainbow cookies, and no one ever mentioned any breakage. Of course if they arrived as crumbs, they would still get eaten.
I used to use Fedex and UPS when shipping out of state, because they have a better tracking system (you can see where the package is at all times) and were about the same price as the Post Office, but then they added a fuel surcharge and I don't like not knowing what I paid until I get my credit card bill. Post Office doesn't really track, just confirms delivery, but I've never had them lose anything on me. Just be sure, when they ask "Anything fragile, perishable..." etc don't tell them it's cookies, because if they don't know you they can refuse it. Once I made the mistake of saying, well there's lots of alcohol in most of them so they won't go bad, and the clerk said PLEASE don't tell me that on top of the fact that they're cookies. But luckily they know me so it wasn't a problem.