Monday, April 25, 2016

How to Package and Ship Decorated Sugar Cookies

Shipping fragile sugar cookies that are decorated with royal icing require special care.  These types of cookies get baked on a monthly basis at my home, and more often than not, they are shipped throughout the United States to friends, family and clients.  I try my best to ensure that the treats arrive in one piece because it would be a waste of my time, material, expertise and money if I were to be neglectful in their packaging.


What I've learned throughout the years of mailing out hundreds upon hundreds of cookies is that you must have a sturdy box, lots of packing peanuts, small-bubble bubble wrap and perhaps some cardboard cut outs to use for layering.


Moreover, the sugar cookies themselves must be rolled out to a thickness of a solid 1/4" to give them the firmness required for shipping.  Anything thinner will have a greater chance of breaking into small pieces or snapping in half.

Learn from these tips so that your works of edible art arrive at their destination in one piece.  I guarantee that you will have peace of mind as the cookie decorator if you follow these simple steps, and that the recipient(s) of the cookies will appreciate the care you took in making sure that they arrived safely.

If truth be told, I can't remember the last time one of my cookies arrived broken.


My preferred way to package up cookies for gift giving is to place cookies in cellophane bags tied with colorful ribbons or natural twine.  However, if you are keen on those clear-topped boxes that you assemble and line with crinkle paper, even better.  The best types of cookie shapes to place in clear cellophane bags are squares, rounds, hearts, rectangles or flowers.  Any other shapes which have delicate edges or extended areas, such as the spout on the watering can above, need to have support underneath so that the details don't snap off. I like to use stiff cardstock that's approximately the same size as the cookie. The cellophane bag gets lined with the piece of cardstock, and then I carefully place the cookie on top of that.  Easy!


Note:  extra large cookies, like those cut out and baked with the large Martha by Mail cookie cutters need even more support to keep them in one piece. I've found that thick posterboard cut to size is the best way to keep them from breaking.  You will need very large cellophane bags to accommodate both the board and the cookie.   


Once your decorated cookies have been packaged up in cellophane bags and tied securely, cut out as many 12" squares of bubblewrap as you have cookies.  It's time to create cookie bundles!


A. Place the cookie in the middle of the bubble wrap, bubble-side up.  
B. Fold the bottom portion of the bubble wrap over the cookie and secure the ends with some scotch tape.
C. Fold both sides of the bundle toward the center and secure each with some scotch tape.
D. Your cookie should be a tight fitting bundle securely wrapped and taped.  Continue wrapping and taping all of your cookies.


This is the back side of a wrapped cookie bundle.  


You can also wrap a cookie by shifting the square of bubble wrap so that it's at an angle.


The goal is to make sure that each cookie has enough padding around the front and back.


Your shipping box should be a heavy duty box that will withstand the rigors of transportation.  Find one that suits the number of cookies you intend to ship. It's up to you whether you want a square box or a rectangular box.  The former is great for smaller amounts and the latter is perfect for larger quantities or cookies that need extra padding.

  • Line the bottom of the box with a flat layer of packing peanuts. Don't leave any peaks or mounds of packing peanuts for this bottom layer.  
  • Add a layer of bubble wrap. 

  • It's wise to line the walls of the box with bubblewrap to give the sides extra padding.  I take a roll of bubble wrap and simply drop two long strips overlapping each other crosswise (much like lining a baking pan with parchment when making brownies).
  • Add a cardboard cutout at the bottom and begin to add cookie bundles. 
  • Keep the cookies flat along the cardboard cutout and fit as many as you can without forcing the cookies.  
  • Add packing peanuts to fill in any gaps, especially around the edges of the box.
  • Lay another piece of bubble wrap, then a cardboard cutout, and repeat the layering process.


Here is a diagram of what the layered box should look like when it's finished. Starting from the bottom and assembling the box until it's filled, the finished package should be a series of secured layers.  

The upper layers should really be nothing but bubble wrap and packing peanuts (and a note or card!).  You want to have enough packing material so that nothing is shifting.  When you close the box, before taping it shut, give it a few small shakes.  Is anything moving inside?  Do you hear cookies sliding?  If you do, find out where the problem is and secure it.  If you don't hear a peep out of those cookies, then it's safe to tape shut.



I never like to skimp on packing material whenever I send cookies through the mail.  Whether it's bubble wrap, packing peanuts, packing tape or boxes, I like to have plenty of them.  Adding a few stickers that say 'Fragile' helps, but so does a clearly written or typed address label.  The box itself should be taped with clear packing tape and it really should be mailed out the quickest way possible.  Personally, I've had a really good success rate sending everything USPS Priority Mail with tracking and delivery confirmation.  If you're selling these to a client, make sure to insure the package as well.

My wish is that this small tutorial helps you and gives you the confidence to send those beautifully iced sugar cookies to as many individuals as possible. It's great to hear from family members, friends and customers when everything arrives in one piece.

Happy baking and happy cookie decorating!

2 comments:

  1. Excellent tutorial! Now, perhaps you can do one on packing glass items for eBay sellers! Wait.. I think you have already posted something on packing for shipping.. never mind. :)

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    Replies
    1. Haha! I know what you mean. It's always maddening when people don't realize what kind of treatment boxes get when traveling through the mail system. I try my best to make sure there are no mishaps with fragile items.

      Have a great one!

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