Read this before shipping holiday food gifts

University of Illinois Extension

Check with your shipper or delivery service to verify restrictions and shipping instructions before you bake and pack food gifts.

According to major mail and delivery services, the number of baking days left until Christmas is a lot closer than you think, especially if you’re mailing overseas.

For most international destinations, the U.S. Postal Service advises that you mail packages, cards, and letters no later than December 11. In talking with United Parcel Services (UPS), they recommend contacting them for mailing dates as dates vary according to the country you are shipping to.

If you are planning to mail food items, consider the following suggestions:

– When mailing items overseas, it’s imperative to check with your shipper about item restrictions, weight, size or packaging that may apply and which customs forms are required. Again, check mailing dates to meet your preferred delivery dates.

– If foods may be sent, it’s best to ship foods that won’t spoil. Cheesecake and similar perishable foods require refrigeration so it’s safest to send non-perishable foods. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture website has more information on Mail Order Food Safety at:

– If mailing cookies, like oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, and so on, place them back to back and wrap together with plastic wrap.

– Cookies that are very delicate may not hold up during shipping, so send a firmer, chewy-type cookie to avoid crumbling. The recipe given should ship well.

– Bar cookies are usually good choices to send, as the quality tends to hold during shipping. Avoid using cream cheese filling though, for safe food handling. Wrap bar cookies individually.

– Fudge, brownies, pound cake or the “infamous” fruitcake usually ship well. Again, avoid cream cheese or other perishable fillings and wrap well before packing and shipping.

– Pack foods together in a smaller box or tin, then place the container in a shipping box. Use packing materials between the food box and the shipping box to help cushion the food.

– Wrap the shipping box in two layers of brown paper. Label outside clearly; making sure the address is complete AND correct.

– The Postal Service’s website offers additional mailing options, simplified customs forms, and online assistance at: The URL for UPS is: and includes additional mailing information and forms.

In summary, check with your shipper or delivery service to verify restrictions and shipping instructions BEFORE you bake and pack food gifts. For example, one shipper stated there are some countries that you can’t send food gifts to. In these times, we need to comply with rules given by those handling our packages, so do check ahead regarding food items and packaging materials.

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—– Read this before mailing holiday food gifts —-