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You’ve made them, now mail them

You’ve spent hours baking gorgeous holiday cookies, and now it’s time to share them with friends and family. Careful packing can mean the difference between receiving a box of joyful confections or a box of buttery crumbs (still tasty, less pretty).

Here’s how to do it right, whether you’re shipping them or leaving them on your neighbor’s doorstep.

>> For mailing, bake with sturdy treats in mind. Brownies, blondies, bar cookies, shortbread, chewy cookies like oatmeal raisin cookies or molasses cookies, rum balls, truffles and sandwich cookies are all good choices. They hold up better than delicate, thin cookies like wafers or lace cookies. (Keep those for your neighbors.)

>> Choose tins and airtight plastic containers over boxes. Tins and containers are sturdier and won’t show butter stains. But sturdy craft paper or bakery boxes are OK, too, if you line them with plastic or parchment before packing.

>> No matter what, don’t pack cookie boxes far in advance, if you can avoid it. As soon as the cookies mingle, so do their flavors (especially if there’s a strongly flavored spice cookie or a peanut butter cookie in the mix). Store each variety in a separate container or tin. You can also wrap them in plastic or stash them in resealable storage boxes or glassine cookie bags.

>> Add a little visual interest. Putting round cookies like bourbon or rum balls or snowballs in little pleated paper confectionery cups adds a layer of protection and looks nice, too, especially if you get different colors. Muffin cup liners work well, too.

>> Pack treats tightly for mailing. Use tissue paper to envelop and cushion the cookies inside their gift tin or box so they don’t rattle around. Fill the tin to the top, cover with more tissue and close it. Then gently shake it. You shouldn’t feel the cookies bounce; they should be snug.

>> Set the box or tin in your shipping box. Pack the assembled cookie box in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box filled with Bubble Wrap or another packing filler. (Look for eco-friendly paper fillers, if possible. Wadded up newspaper works, too.) I save sturdy boxes and packing material all year long to reuse for the holidays.

>> Test your box before shipping. After packing up your box as securely as possible — but before taping it up — give it another gentle shake to make sure everything is secure. If not, add more packing material.

>> If you can swing it, splurge on shipping. Try to send your package priority or overnight, so the cookies are as fresh as possible when they arrive.

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