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.

Whether it is for their birthday or Christmas or just because, 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.

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.

If shipping around the holidays, make sure you are aware of the latest shipping by deadlines. You want to make sure any holiday goodies get to where you want them to go on time.

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.