Baked goods are fantastic gifts during the holidays. They’re always well-received at parties and gatherings and while they’re fun and often easy to make, they don’t quite offer the convenience of a store bought gift – especially if you want to ship off your present to friends or family that don’t live locally. To do this, not only do you need an idea of what treat you want to make, but you have to arrange shipping, taking into account the fact that your gift is perishable. To ensure that your treats are as good on arrival as they were when they left your kitchen, there are a few tips that I like to keep in mind:
- Use priority shipping, or other expedited mailing method. Overnight usually isn’t necessary, but it’s better to pay a little extra to guarantee 2 or 3 day shipping than risk it taking 8-10 days and having the goods arrive stale.
- When selecting a baked good or sweet, opt for things that keep for more than just a day or two. Muffins, for instance, are generally a bad choice because they’re best the day they’re made. I like to ship biscotti and marshmallows, but some of the cookies that I’ve made keep well for several days, and I’ll ship those, too. Drier cookies, like shortbread, ship well, as do chewier cookies, such as sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip. Rum balls and fruitcake – anything that improves with age – are excellent options. Cakey cookies, whether they are dry or moist to begin with, tend not to ship as well.
- Non-baked goods almost always ship well. I mentioned that I like to ship marshmallows, but peanut butter cups, fudge, chocolate bark and hot chocolate mix are incredibly easy to mail and hold up beautifully as long as the weather isn’t too hot.
- Make sure you use an airtight container for shipping. It doesn’t have to be pretty, so use a ziploc bag or two if you don’t have tupperware. It’s far more important that the product taste good then look perfect. And besides, you can always stick your airtight container in a festive box or bag.
- Use some kind of padding in your package to keep things from shifting around. If there is space inside your tupperware container, try using folded up parchment paper to keep cookies from shifting. Around the package, bubble wrap, styrofoam popcorn and even plain air-popped popcorn will keep your treats from crumbling or getting smushed.
- Finally, complement your baked goods with something that doesn’t spoil. A box of your favorite storebought candies or hot chocolate mix is a nice touch, as is a cookbook or something similar. It allows you to cover your bases and, in the event your treats don’t make it to their destination in perfect condition, your giftee will still have something to look forward to.