With Christmas approaching, it’s important to think of our troops. There are still thousands of brave men and women stationed overseas and a lot of them are excited for something very special — CHRISTMAS COOKIES! Shipping cookies overseas is a fun way to remind our troops that people back home are still thinking about them. But there are some intricacies to the process that can be hard to navigate. We at the Veterans site have created a three-part guide to help you through the whole process!
Which cookies will you ship to your favorite service-member?
PART 1: THE COOKIES
The biggest thing to be concerned about is getting your cookies to the troops intact. Because shipping can take a while, you want to ensure that your cookies don’t get moldy or break (imagine opening a box full of crumbs!) The best way to keep your cookies in one piece is to follow these guidelines:
- Choose a recipe for a sturdy cookie that will not break easily.
- Drier cookies also tend to stay fresh longer (e.g. biscotti, gingersnaps, and snicker doodles).
- Avoid chocolate chips and other meltable ingredients.
- Make your cookies a uniform size with an ice cream scoop or a cookie cutter. This helps with the packaging process.
By sticking to these basic rules of baking, your cookies will get to their destination with their shapes and flavor intact. If you are looking for a great recipe, try these ginger snaps from 12 Tomatoes:
Yields 3-4 dozenIngredients
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar (for rolling cookies)
- Preheat oven to 375° F and set aside a shallow bowl of sugar for rolling the cookies.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
- In a large bowl or mixer, cream together the shortening and brown sugar until lightened in color and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg and, once fully incorporated, mix in the molasses.
- A 1/2 cup at a time, mix in dry ingredients until fully combined.
- Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, then break off equal pieces of dough and roll out 1-inch balls of dough.
- Roll each cookie ball in bowl of granulated sugar, then place on baking sheet, leaving 2-3 inches between each cookie.
- Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until puffed up slightly. (Cookies will collapse a little and be covered in little cracks–that ‘s what you want.)
- Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
(Recipe adapted from What’s Cooking America)
Continue to the next page to learn how to get your cookies overseas!
PART 2: EXPERT PACKAGING
There are a lot of techniques for sending cookies to troops. One trick that many seasoned cookie-senders use is to put a piece of bread in with their cookies. During shipping the bread will get stale but the cookies will remain fresh! It is also important to label your cookies clearly if they contain any potential food allergens.
If you’ve made your cookies a uniform size, packing them is easy! First choose a container. Some people use airtight tins, others line cardboard boxes with tin foil and bubble wrap. Both work well. Next individually wrap your cookies in saran-wrap and separate them with a layer of parchment paper. As long as you don’t overpack your container you’re good to go. Then place your packed cookies into a larger box with bubble wrap. This will insulate your cookies and help them get overseas in one piece!
PART 3: SHIPPING TRICKS
Once your cookies are neatly nestled in their box, seal them with packing tape. On the outside of the box you should label the package with stickers denoting “fragile” and “perishable food.” Sometimes doing this will even help them ship faster! Make sure that these labels are visible in three places: above the address, below your stamp, and on the back of the box you’re shipping.
The most important thing about shipping is to use a specific service-member’s name.
According to The Kitchn, “Troops are instructed to throw away homemade food from people they don’t know.”
If you don’t have a family member who is currently serving, reach out to a friend or a neighbor; someone who’d be delighted to receive a package from you (especially one full of cookies).
The only postal service that is allowed to send packages to troops overseas is the USPS, so make sure you adhere to their standards of shipping. For example, you’ll need to fill out a PS 2976-A customs form if the cookies are going overseas. The deadlines for Christmas packages are nearly here, so make sure you get your cookies packed quickly. If you can’t make the deadline for Christmas the troops will still appreciate some cookies in January.
The deadlines for military shipping this Christmas are:
- Dec. 10: Priority Mail Service
- Dec. 10: First-Class Mail
- Dec. 17: Priority Mail Express (Military)
There is also another way to send care-packages to our troops. The Veterans Site has partnered with Operation Support Our Troops to help send care packages to deployed service-members. With a donation as little as $5, you can remind our troops that they remain on our minds and close to our hearts.