How to ship perishable food gifts

Written by julie elefante
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How to ship perishable food gifts
Follow these simple instructions when shipping perishable foods. (stock.xchng)

Whether you want to send a batch of brownies to your kids at summer camp or college, or send gift boxes of holiday treats to friends or family, knowing how to ship these perishable foods is valuable information. When packaging and shipping your perishable foods, always keep in mind the foods' freshness, their stability within the box, and expediency in getting the package to the recipient.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Perishable food, contained and wrapped to preserve freshness
  • Container, such as a food tin or paper plate
  • Cling film
  • Bubble wrap
  • Cold gel packs (optional)
  • Packing peanuts (or newspaper, styrofoam or more bubble wrap)
  • Sturdy shipping container, or styrofoam shipping box if shipping cold foods, with any sticker labels removed or blacked out with black marker
  • Packing tape
  • Mailing label

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Make sure you let the package's recipient know that you are shipping a package containing perishable foods and when they should expect it. You can get a tracking label from the shipper so you and the recipient can keep better track of the box.

  2. 2

    Wrap and contain perishable foods such as brownies and cookies for freshness. Stack them on a sturdy plate, in a tin or disposable aluminium pan, or in a zip-top bag. Wrap them in two to three layers of cling film, securing the wrap with tape. If you have items in jars, wrap them in plastic to prevent a mess if the jar breaks or the top somehow comes off. If the foods must be kept cold, consider freezing them solid first before shipping.

  3. 3

    Wrap each container of food with bubble wrap to provide extra padding, especially glass containers. For cold foods, surround them in cold packs before wrapping them in bubble wrap, and then in two more layers of cling film to contain any moisture that might come off the container or cold pack.

  4. 4

    Distribute a 2 to 3-inch layer of packing peanuts across the bottom of the box.

    How to ship perishable food gifts
    Make sure you cushion your box's contents with packing peanuts or a good substitute.
  5. 5

    Pack each of your containers in the box, making sure each container is surrounded by packing peanuts so that the containers do not come into contact with each other or with the sides of the box. Try to allow for 2 to 3 inches between the containers and the side of the box, using packing peanuts to cushion the space.

  6. 6

    Top the box off with another 2 to 3 inches of packing peanuts.

  7. 7

    Close the box. You can test the cushioning inside the box by shaking it to make sure nothing shifts. Add more packing peanuts as necessary.

  8. 8

    Tape the box closed with one to two layers of packing tape, reinforcing all of the box's open seams.

  9. 9

    Put the correct mailing and return address on the box. If the box must be kept refrigerated or frozen, write or use labels reading "Perishable: Keep Refrigerated" or "Perishable: Keep Frozen" on the box.

  10. 10

    Mail the box. If the package's weight is under 369gr., you can give it to your mail carrier, but if it weighs more than 369gr., you must take it to your post office or other shipping location, such as a post office or UPS store. If the perishable foods must arrive as soon as possible, ship the box using overnight or next day service. Always ship frozen foods using overnight or next day service. If the goods can last 2 or 3 days, you can choose the post office's Priority Mail service or UPS' 2nd Day or 3rd Day service.

Tips and warnings

  • You must clear some perishable items, such as certain fruits and vegetables, through the post office before you ship them. You can clear these items by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS or by asking your local post office.
  • USPS also has restrictions on liquids and powders, which can be mailed only in small quantities.
  • You can buy other quality shipping supplies such as air bags for cushioning and double-wall corrugated boxes for very heavy contents from shipping stores such as UPS. These items are worth looking into and purchasing if the perishable foods that you want to ship are heavier than 13.6 Kilogram or very fragile.
  • Use extra care when shipping foods that must be kept cold so that they do not spoil during their transport.

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