5 Tips for Sending Baked Goods Overseas

Great tips for sending cookies in the mail-- using these ideas for care packages!

Thank you to Michelle Volkmann for the cookie tips!

Picture the disappointment. Your Marine’s misfortune when a box of “Sent with Love” chocolate cookies arrives melted onto his children’s photos. Your sailor’s sadness when she discards moldy brownies mailed from Grandma. Your soldier’s irritation when faced with a pile of cookie crumbs that can’t be salvaged.

This Christmas, you want to send edible love packaged in the perfect cookie. Follow these five simple tips to avoid the common cookie delivery problems: moldy, melted, and broken.

Great tips for sending cookies in the mail-- using these ideas for care packages!

1. Choose Your Cookies

You want sturdy cookies that can handle the long-distance travel. The best choices are chocolate chip oatmeal, peanut butter, gingersnaps, and snickerdoodles. Now is not the time to attempt to replicate your great-grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe. Instead, use a fool-proof recipe found on the chocolate chip packaging.

Are there any baked goods that you shouldn’t send? Yes, anything that requires refrigeration is best saved for the homecoming celebration.

2. Bake Your Cookies

Use a small scoop to make the cookies uniform. The cookies will bake evenly and be easier to pack, once they have cooled completely. Experienced military spouses recommend removing the cookies a minute early from the oven. Soft cookies retain their freshness longer than dry cookies.

3. Pack Your Cookies

My grandmother has shipped cookies around the world for 30 years. She is a firm believer in an air-tight and sturdy tin. You can purchase affordable ones at discount stores. She puts parchment paper between each cookie layer. She doesn’t overfill the tin. Then she nestles this tin into a separate box with a generous amount of packing peanuts to cushion it. Her cookies never arrive broken.

You may also consider sending cookies in a Pringles can or stacking them sideways in a rectangular plastic container. Aim to replicate the methods used by food manufacturers. If Nabisco uses it for Oreos, try a similar method for your cookie delivery.

Toiletries should be packed separately from cookies; otherwise your cookies may arrive smelling like soap.

4. No Stale Cookies

It can take up to two weeks for packages to arrive at operating bases overseas. Place a piece of bread in the container with the cookies. When the package arrives, the bread will be stale and your cookies will be fresh.

5. No Guessing Game

Clearly label the package to avoid any delays. The U.S. Postal Service also recommends labeling the box as “fragile” and
“perishable food” in three places: above the address, below the postage stamp, and on the back or bottom of the package.

Within the box, place a note if any cookies contain nuts or peanut butter.

Finally, the  USPS Military Shipping deadlines are:

  • Nov. 8Standard Post®
  • Nov. 26Space Available Mail 4
  • Dec. 3Parcel Air Lift 5
  • Dec. 10First-Class Mail®, Priority Mail®
  • Dec. 17Priority Mail Express Military® Service 6

But I’m sure most service members will gladly accept home-baked goodness any day of the year.

Part-time writer, full-time Navy spouse Michelle Volkmann is currently stationed near Monterey, California. For the last four years, she has baked several dozen sugar cookies. She hasn’t baked a perfect one yet, but she will try again this holiday season.

43 Replies to “5 Tips for Sending Baked Goods Overseas”

  1. Love My Scotties says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to help newbies like us. Will be using the tried and true advice of grandma…. thanks again. Happy Holidays to all who read this comment!

    1. Happy Baking :)!

  2. thanks for the great tips! this is my first time supporting my husband’s deployment, while i think it’s his 9th deployment… so I want to make sure I make it the best one possible, which include, chocolate chippers!

    thank you!


    1. Hey Shauna,

      Have fun baking! Keep yourself busy. It will help make the deployment go by faster for you.

      Take care,

  3. allyson burke says:

    thanks for the tips. when you suggest placing a slice of bread in the container, do you mean inside the shipping box or actually inside the cookie container (i.e., inside a tin containing the cookies)? will the cookies be ok if the bread molds?

    1. Hey Allyson,

      Great question. Actually put the bread inside the cookie container and take the chance of it getting moldy ;). It should just get dry and stale.

      Happy baking,

  4. Thanks for posting! Any advice on other sweets? Such as brownies?

    1. Hey Kaylan,

      Brownies will work, but be careful if you are sending them somewhere HOT. They will end up being a big blob of chocolate :).

      Happy care package making,

  5. If I miss the deadlines, will they still receive my package? Is it possible to get a return receipt or some kind of delivery confirmation for shipments like this?

    1. Hi Bobbi,
      Yes, they will still get your package. It will just be late. I don’t think you can get delivery confirmation all the way to the service member. You can probably get it to a point, but once the packages get into the hands of the armed services the tracking will be gone.

  6. I’m trying to send my marine goodies, he’s deployed to Spain does anyone know if homemade fudge and peanut butter fudge will make it.

  7. Hey Paula,

    I bet at this time of year you could. I looked up the weather in Spain and it is not too warm. Give it a shot :).


  8. Angie Macomber says:

    I don’t know anyone in the service. I’m going to be alone this Christmas and just want to send something to the guys that are missing this time with their families. Do I have to put a certain name on the box?

    1. Hello Angie,
      It is so sweet of you to want to make a difference in our military families lives! You do have to have a specific name on your package. However, the USO is a wonderful organization and you may find a nice way to give back by looking at this site. https://usowishbook.uso.org/?_ga=1.181709477.344770332.1450281117. Please let me know if I can help any further.
      Happy Holidays,

  9. How well would vacuum sealing individual homemade and cooled cookies do?

    1. Hey Kristin,
      That is a great question. Does anyone out there have the answer? I would think that would make sense as then there would be no air to get to them. Try it with just a dozen and let us know.
      Have a great day,

  10. Should I use saran wrap on each individual cookie in a pringles container? or will the wax paper be enough?

    1. Hey Dora,

      How far are those cookies going? Ship? Land? If sending to a ship, I would individually wrap. Lord only knows how long it will take them to get there. If sending to a service member boots on the ground, I think the wax paper and Pringle container will be enough.

      I hope this helps!

  11. Hi ! I want to send chocolate chip cookies to my deployed boyfriend, i want them to be really soft. Can I put them in an airtight ziplock bag? Or is it best to put them in a tin? I have also heard placing marshmallows in with the cookies helps them stay soft and fresh too. is that true?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Danielle,

      I would put them in an air tight ziplock and a tin. The less air, the better. I’m not sure about the marshmallow trick. Does anyone out there know about this?


  12. […] 5 Tips for Sending Baked Goods Overseas […]

  13. Hi,
    I have a vacuum sealer. Do you think that would work for cookies, and keep them fresh?

    Thank you!

    1. Hey Debbie,
      I certainly think it won’t hurt. The less air that touches your goodies, the better.
      Have a great day!

  14. […] 5 Tips for Sending Baked Goods Overseas […]

  15. Great list and tips, Danya! I have a few answers to some of the above questions. As you said, Danya, the less exposure to air, the longer the baked goods will stay fresh. Vacuum sealing is the best way to keep air out, HOWEVER, sometimes it isn’t easy to vacuum seal without crumbling the cookies. I am a member of Soldier’s Angels, and many of the Angels (who send tons of care packages) have said that after much trial and error, they are able to use vacuum sealing for many recipes. I have also heard the ideas of marshmallows or a slice of white bread on top of the cookies. Personally, after experimenting with both, I haven’t found those to be useful. I think if people follow your advice to chose the recipes well and package the cookies as airtight and wiggle-free as possible, they will be on the right track! I publish a care package recipe blog (including recipes especially for military care packages) and would appreciate your feedback!

    1. Thank you so much Wendy! Awesome tips!!

    2. What exactly was the conclusion did the angles come up with for the best cookie recipe and vacuum sealing?

  16. How about vacuum sealing??? Have you or anyone you know tried that? Thank you

  17. […] food, but I could save quite a bit of money if I sent homemade baked goods. There are lots of tips and tricks (as well as recipes) for sending baked goods overseas and I am excited to try it out during this […]

  18. How about sending cupcakes to someone deployed in Iraq ?

    1. Hey Elizabeth,

      I hate to say it, but I doubt they would make it there. I am envisioning frosting all over the place.


  19. Hello!

    My fiancé is deployed on a Naval Ship. I’ve noticed that it takes about 3 weeks for him to receive my letters, if I mail it as “Priority Mail”. He really like Pecan Pie. Is there any way for me to ensure the freshness of it if I mail it? Should I wrap it in Saran wrap and find a tin container it can fit in?

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

    1. Hey Leni,

      I think this one is a crap shoot. It could take six weeks for your pie to arrive. It just depends where they are in the big blue ocean. I think it is worth a shot. If it doesn’t make it safe and sound, it was the thought, right?

      Take good care. I hope your deployment flies by!


  20. Sandi Weeraman says:

    Hi! I would like to send banana bread and fudge APO to Kuwait from Texas. How would you suggest packing this? He says Priority takes about a week.

    Thank you,

    1. Hey Sandi,

      Wow. One week. That is amazing! I would use some plastic wrap, foil and ziplock bags. Try to get as much air out as you possibly can. Then pack in a tin so it doesn’t get squished.

      I hope this helps,

  21. Hi, I am very new to all of this and want to ship goodies
    I am confused about the mailing schedule..are you saying that we must have it post marked by those dates in order for the package to get there in the approx 2 weeks???
    Thank you so much
    Lanelle in TX

    1. Hello Lanelle,

      It is all very confusing. I believe the dates on that post of out of date. Please refer to the USPS page to get clear answers, https://www.usps.com/holiday/holiday-shipping-dates.htm.

      I hope this helps!

      Have a great weekend,

  22. Update:

    Thank you for your response!! Instead of sending him a pecan pie, I decided to send him pecan tassies instead. I wrapped them in sets of 2 in Saran Wrap, then I placed them in a Tupperware container. Altogether I sent him about 40 pecan tassies (because I figured he would share, if he wasn’t too greedy!) 😁

    I mailed the package as “priority” On Monday October 24th and he received it 1 WEEK LATER on Monday October 31st!! I couldn’t believe how quickly the care package arrived, because when I send greeting cards as “priority”, it usually takes about 3 weeks to reach him.

    Thanks again!! ☺☺

    1. Hey Leni,

      That’s awesome! Better early than too late, right ;)?

      Have a great day,

  23. TIFFANI Lindsey says:

    What about oxygen absorbers? Will this help with breads, muffins, cookies?

  24. Sherrill Van Valkenburgh says:

    I read the first post like, 2 years old, thank you so much for the terrific help! Momzie January 2017

  25. Mary Courtney says:

    My son is heading out on his first deployment to Afghanistan, so I am looking for tips on sending packages too. I read about baking cakes in little mason jars so they are about cupcake size. It says you put the tops on right after they come out of the oven and draw a seal as they cool so they stay fresh. I am thinking of sending those with a can of frosting. Has anyone tried this? Thanks!

  26. Has anyone made hard candy and sent it over? I’m looking to make some for a friend of mine and he is current stationed in Bahrain. This is my first time sending care packages. He has never asked me to send anything on any of his other deployments and this deployment he has. I really want to make it special for him.

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