Tips for Baking, Packing, and Sending Cookies to Troops

Looking for a way to say thank you to our military personnel? Shipping some homemade cookies to a troop is always a great way to show you care! However, since your cookies will be traveling long distances, there is some important information you need to know about how to bake and pack them so they survive the trip.

Baking tips.

  • To avoid mold, use white sugar instead of brown sugar, honey, molasses, or corn syrup. Soft or undercooked cookies are also likely to get moldy on the longer trips.
  • Refrain from sending foods containing chocolate, since there is the possibility that they could melt.
  • Dense and dry baked goods, like biscotti, nut bars, shortbread, and gingersnaps, ship the best.
  • Cookies with fruit stay moist because of the fruit.
  • Don’t send cookies with custards, icings, or special toppings—they’ll spoil easily.

Packing tips.

  • Pack your cookies in metal food tins, or in plastic boxes or bags that seal tightly. Do not use containers that may break, like glass.
  • Line the container with parchment paper, and add parchment paper in between your cookie layers as well.
  • Be generous with your packing material, which can be Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, plastic grocery bags, or shredded paper.
  • Put your packing material along the bottom of your box, then place your cookie container on that layer, and surround the remaining space with the rest. Once the box is full, shake it to ensure that nothing is moving. Add more packing if necessary, especially in the corners.
  • Make sure to seal your box securely with packing tape.

Sending tips.

  • The United States Postal Service is the only mail service allowed to send packages to stationed troops. International rates do not apply to military mail delivery. Use a USPS Priority APO/FPO/DPO box to ship items overseas.
  • Never send homemade goods to soldiers you don’t personally know. If you plan to send homemade cookies or treats, you must have the name and address of an individual soldier. Troops are instructed to throw away homemade food from people they don’t know. If you don’t know anyone and really would like to help out, do an online search for groups that you can join and become a volunteer baker for participating troops.
  • The address should be printed clearly and readable from over a foot away. Cover the label with clear tape.
  • Make sure your package is labeled “Fragile” and  “Perishable Food.”
  • You will need to fill out the US customs form PS 2976-A.

Homebuying Tips for Military Families

Among the many changes that joining the military brings, a frequent change in location is sometimes part of the territory. For families, moving often can make it difficult to feel settled in a home, or to even make the commitment associated with homebuying.

But if you’ve made the decision to buy a home, you deserve to feel confident in your choice. These tips can help!

Consider the likelihood of selling.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that, because of the risk of deployment, you may not be in your new house for long. While some families will stay in a house for over thirty years, this prospect isn’t as likely for active military members.

While searching for a house, look for points that can influence selling price down the line. Is the house in a good school district? Are there modern appliances? Are there any structural issues? These are all qualifications you would want to look at anyway, but are particularly important if you’ll eventually need to sell.

Get familiar with the neighborhood.

If you will be away from your family for long periods of time, you’ll want to make sure the neighborhood is warm and welcoming, and a place that the rest of your family will feel supported by while you’re gone.

Looking for a home near base could be beneficial in that there will probably be other military families nearby that you will be able to relate to and rely on. Some communities even offer special resources through programs like Joining Community Forces, which brings local businesses and services together in support of military families.

Use your resources.

There are a number of special resources available to military families interested in buying a home. VA loans, while not always feasible, can be extremely beneficial when used properly. A real estate agent familiar with the system can help military homebuyers work through the VA’s requirements process.

You will have to work with a VA appraiser, and not all homes meet the VA loan requirements, but it is absolutely worth it to look into and understand the resources available to you as a service member.

Ask around.

This is especially important if this will be your first homebuying experience, but it’s always beneficial to talk to families who have been through the process before. If you know of anyone who has bought a home previously, using a VA loan or other type of military assistance, ask them about their experience. What did they do right? What do they wish they did different?

Previous homebuyers can be a wealth of knowledge and guide you through your own journey, helping you avoid pitfalls and make decisions that will benefit you greatly down the road.