The holiday cookie does not have to crumble on your watch.
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Holiday cookies are one of the greatest pleasures of the season. Homemade, mail-ordered, swapped, given, or bought, cookies bring a kid-giddy respite from the stresses of the day, even if just for a moment. At the end of a long year, making cookies to send to friends and family is one of the cheerier pursuits you could engage in, but you've gotta make sure they arrive intact and in time.

When they were alive, my grandmother and aunt used to send out cookies by the thousands, each swaddled in several layers of wax paper and nestled into department store clothing boxes. There was minimal crumble and they arrived tasting fresh, but oof — such packaging waste will not stand in these more eco-conscious times. The experts at USPS, UPS, and FedEx have some advice for shipping cookies, but this is key: Send them as soon as you can to avoid disappointment. No one will be miffed by getting a baked treat a few weeks before the actual holidays. 

U.S. Postal Service

The USPS Postal Posts blog has a trove of useful tips for shipping fragile items, but it all bakes down to this: 

Yes, you're a cookie-making machine, and you've got your bake-to-box assembly line down to a science, but you've got to let the goods cool to room temperature before they go into the box or the steam will condense and sog everything up. Texture havoc can also happen if you pack soft and crisp cookies in the same airspace, so if you're making both, separate them into plastic bags and slip a piece of white bread in with the soft cookies so they don't dry out. Not every cookie needs to be individually mummified, but it helps to slip a layer of wax paper in between layers. Also, not every cookie is a great candidate for travel. Your ornately iced portraits of Dolly Parton or Megan Thee Stallion might pop on Instagram, but show up looking more like the Cookie Monster depending on temperature fluctuations; super-delicate cookies might arrive in shards. Save these for in-person gatherings.

Use the right-sized box for the job so the contents are neither jostling around nor jammed in, and make sure to reinforce the bottom, sides, and top so the cookies themselves aren't bearing the pressure of a stack. On the inside of the package, use crumpled paper, bubble wrap, recycled packing foam, or some other material that adds cushioning without weight. On the outside, tape like a fiend. If you're opting for Priority Mail or Express Priority Mail, flat-rate boxes are free, and sturdy as heck. The USPS also provides free Military Care Kits with flat-rate boxes, labels, customs envelopes, and Priority Mail tape.

UPS

UPS's page dedicated to food shipments underscores the importance of keeping the treats in your parcel fresh. The shipping service backs up much of the Postal Service's advice, and notes that drop and bar cookies, as well as those containing dried fruit, are ideal candidates for shipping. Where the counsel differs, though, is that UPS suggests individually wrapping cookies in plastic (which also helps flavors and scents from intermingling), and double-wrapping them in pairs. The company also advises that heavier cookies should be placed toward the bottom, and the outside of the box should be marked with the word, "perishable" and indicate "this way up" to minimize the chances of heartbreak.

"The best way to ship cookies is fast," says UPS, and suggests express shipping options, such as the flat-priced UPS Simple Rate that offers four speed options from Ground to Next Day Air Saver. When opting for Ground, UPS recommends using this tool to determine rates and speed depending on the origin and destination.

FedEx

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of sending precisely temperature-controlled cookies, FedEx has detailed diagrams for including cold gel packs or dry ice and insulation in a box, but maybe save that for the pros. Their more practical advice for perishables is to package them for a journey of 30 hours, and opt for one of the quicker-shipping express methods, which include free boxes.

FedEx advises checking with your local branch to make sure of their hours and any weather conditions or service alerts that might affect national or local shipping speeds, but the service offers a host of highly precise and extremely trackable options. And should some local naughty-listers be in the habit of prowling your recipient's neighborhood for unattended packages, they can sign up for Delivery Manager to follow the delivery step-by-step, or even have it rerouted to a local chain supermarket, pharmacy, or Dollar General.