How to Mail Cookies to the Troops Article -
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How to Mail Cookies to the Troops

Help us send home-baked cookies to the troops!

Allrecipes is sending a batch of cookies to one lucky service member each day of the Christmas Cookie Countdown.

You can help! Tell us the story of your favorite armed forces member and why they deserve a box of cookies. Post your story on the Allrecipes blog, on Allrecipes’ Facebook Fan page, or Tweet us. Be sure to include the unit and APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) address. For safety reasons, do not mention the country where the solider is serving.

    Cookies for the Troops: Mailing Restrictions

    There are several restrictions to keep in mind when sending cookies into the Middle East. To ensure that your care package arrives, please follow these guidelines.

    • Do not use pork products (such as bacon or bacon-fat for frying).
    • Do not bake with alcohol (no rum balls, for example).
    • Do not use aromatic spices (such as nutmeg or allspice).

      Cookies for the Troops: Mailing Requirements

      The U.S.P.S. will not deliver packages unless they are addressed to a specific service member. Here are some other considerations when addressing your package.

      • Address your package to a specific service member and always use his or her full name.
      • Include the unit and APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) address and 9-digit ZIP Code (when assigned).
      • Always include a return address.
      • Print the recipient’s address in the lower right portion of the package -- or go online to print a postage-paid label.


      SGT Steve Smith
      Unit 2020 Box 3130
      APO AP 94278-2050

        Baking Suggestions

        Most likely, the climate where you’re sending your cookies is hot and dry. Here are a couple baking tips to follow to ensure that your cookies arrive in the freshest possible condition.

        • Use vegetable shortening instead of butter, margarine or nut oils, which can go rancid.
        • Use white sugar instead of brown sugar, honey, molasses, or corn syrup to avoid mold.

          Packing Suggestions

          Sand is another consideration. Wrap your cookies tightly in resealable plastic baggies, then wrapped in bubble wrap (not packing peanuts) and packed snuggly in heavy-duty cardboard boxes. Use 2-inch packing tape to reinforce all seams. Don’t use cord, string, or twine.

          Include a note card: It’s advisable to include a note card with your package describing the contents and acknowledging that you’ve followed the above restrictions: “The contents of this package contain no pork products, no alcohol, and no spices such as allspice or nutmeg.” Include the sender’s and recipient’s addresses, too.

          The United States Postal Service has additional tips, FAQs and mailing restrictions for shipping to the troops.

          For additional information on mailing cookies, see our Mailing Cookies article.

            Dec. 1, 2009 1:42 pm
            Why can't you use aromatic spices?
            Dec. 1, 2009 5:33 pm
            so much usefull information. I'll be sure to pass these tips along to a few of my friends that bake and send cookies to our troops year round.They are a group of women from church. thanks, gammarica.
            Dec. 1, 2009 8:50 pm
            I have two grown daughters and no young kids or grandkids. We would love to bake cookies for a few soldiers. If anyone knows of any soliders who don't have a lot of family to sent them stuff, let me know. We love to send a "baked" care package to them. You can e-mail me at Happy Holidays!
            Dec. 2, 2009 6:41 am
            I would like to know why no aromatic spices too. Aren't most spices used in cookies aromatic? Like cinnamon. What about vanilla? It's base is alchol. I have a friend with the Army Corp of Engineers in the Middle East. She's looking forward to cookies from home. She really wanted some ginger snaps. I'm going to email and see if she knows the answers to our questions.
            Dec. 2, 2009 9:51 am
            Well, I got the answer to the allspice and nutmeg. They are considered aphrodisiacs. also states vanilla is not acceptable because of it's alcohol content. This site has recipes courtesy Nestle's Tollhouse that comply with the prohibitions. However, my friend said send whatever I had planned anyway. They didn't seem to have much trouble receiving favorite recipes from home.
            Dec. 2, 2009 10:33 am
            I visited a site called, which connects people who want to send boxes to the troops and military personnel who volunteer to receive packages to distribute to their units. There are many restrictions involved, including no homemade goodies, except from friends or family members. The soldiers are told to throw away anything that is not in a manufacturer's wrapper if they don't personally know the person who sent them. You can understand the dangers to the troops of receiving edibles if they don't know the source, even though the vast majority of those sending them only intend to be supportive. It's a sad statement about the world today, but our service members face dangers that we can't even imagine.
            Dec. 2, 2009 12:32 pm
            I think the restrictions on sending cookies to the troops are overkill. They could be sent via USPS and the sender be required to provide ID at the time of mailing just like one has to provide picture ID to get a post office box. So if there actually turned out to be poison in them they could be traced back to the person.
            Dec. 2, 2009 7:16 pm
            for those of you who do not know a service member on active duty deployment you can go to to get addresses..these soldiers give the package to those that rarely recieve any type of mail..there are over 2000 addresses to send to, then put attn: any soldier, and a service member will recieve your package
            Dec. 2, 2009 7:18 pm
            just read your post grammy...i guess it doesnt hurt to read it twice, thank you
            Lady of the Lake 
            Dec. 2, 2009 10:13 pm
            If vanilla is a problem because of the alcohol content (how insane!), a fantastic powdered vanilla by Cook's is available. I cannot even imagine using no vanilla in any recipe that calls for it......of course, I almost always use double or triple the vanilla in many recipes.
            Dec. 2, 2009 10:35 pm
            thanks for the info grammy! i'll be sending off a package or two soon!
            Dec. 3, 2009 5:22 am
            I'm concerned about the "aromatic spices" too. I was thinking of sending Katie Lee's Spiced Nuts 'n Chex Mix....containss chili powder and cayenne. What do y'all think? Would they be aphrodesiacs?
            Dec. 3, 2009 10:47 am
            I have a suggestion. Go to your post office and pick up a nice, clean and free flat rate priority mail box....printed specifically for shipping to military addresses. You get a discounted postage rate...$10 something, no matter how much it weighs. It's about 12" x 12" x 7" high. That is a bargain! The deadline for guaranteed delivery overseas by Christmas is tomorrow, the 3rd, but they generally build in a lot of cushion. The box has a space for addresses but you will also need to fill out a form CP72 "Customs Declaration".
            Dec. 3, 2009 6:35 pm
            Two Christmas's ago when my son was in Iraq we sent packages two weeks before Christmas and he still got them in time. I send them now to both Iraq and Afghanistan on a biweekly basis and it generally takes 7 to 10 days. I think that's pretty good. Just be sure to ziplock the cookies/baked goods to keep them fresh. And, I've never had a problem with ANYTHING. And believe me, we've been pretty creative.
            Dec. 4, 2009 10:53 am
            This was very helpful! I mail things to my cousin in the Navy fairly regularly, and some things I knew, but others I'd never thought about. I don't really get the aromatic spices part either though... really?!?! A lot of middle eastern food is KNOWN for use of aromatic spices! I know cookies are exciting, but hardly an aphrodesiac! Still very helpful info, like about how to make them keep longer, etc.
            Dec. 4, 2009 12:37 pm
            I don't want to be a downer, but when my husband was in Iraq, he said they received so much stuff in the mail from well-intentioned strangers that most of it was thrown away or given to the Iraqis who worked on base. Also, they get tons of junk food and sweets, but members of the military are expected to be in top physical condition, so many of them won't eat the cookies and candy they receive. It's a lovely thought and gesture to want to do something kind for the men and women over there, but if you really want to help, there are so many other things they really NEED - phone cards, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, chapstick, shaving cream, powdered drink mix - those are the things my husband really appreciated. Thanks for supporting the troops!
            Dec. 4, 2009 1:31 pm
            I bake for the troops every month through Soldiers Angels and always use vanilla and spices like cinnamon. I've never had a problem. I use my Food Saver vaccuum sealer. Pan cookies hold up really well in the mail. I bake brownies in an aluminum pan. Let them in the pan, freeze until hard and them put the pan into the bag and seal. The 8 inch square pan fits into a gallon size Ziploc bag. Just suck all the air out with a straw. Good luck!
            Dec. 4, 2009 7:23 pm
            There is an excellent organiation that I belong to called Adopt-a-Platoon. I can think of several platoons that would be awfully excited to get some home-baked cookies. You can sponsor an entire a platoon or an individual soldier. A lot of these men and women don't get anything from home so a batch or two of snickerdoodles might really make their day. For more information, go to I can't say enough about this organization.
            Dec. 5, 2009 12:28 pm
            I must agree with Jen - my younger brother did two tours of duty in Iraq and he loved to get things like hand sanitizer, baby wipes, BEEF JERKY (they can stick these in their packs and take them anywhere with them), DEODORANT (it's hot over there!), and other things along those lines. I'm not saying a taste of home is nice, but these guys have a hard enough time staying in shape as it is and they get in pretty serious trouble for being over a certain weight. I know they appreciate everyone's support and kindness, but they do have stringent health requirements for their job. Believe me, the beef jerky was always a big hit with him! Also, trail mixes and anything with high-protein content. Our soldiers need as much support as we can give them and I am so grateful for caring people such as yourselves who do so. Someone once said that war was not only fought by soldiers, but also by their families back home. The war has not been forgotten by soldiers' families.
            Dec. 6, 2009 6:02 am
            For Jen and Holly: Thank you so much for your posts. I also want to thank you for the sacrifice you and your loved ones have made. I don't know anyone personally who is in the military, but I planned to show my gratitude to those who are there on my behalf. My plan was to send cookies to an organization who distributes to those who don't have incoming mail or treats, like Based on your information, I'd much rather send them items that they need and would likely prefer over cookies. Love the trail mix and beef jerky ideas, as well as the needed toiletries that we all likely take for granted. Thanks again for the advice. I look forward to preparing my packages for mailing. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
            Dec. 6, 2009 9:22 am
            Both my brothers served in the military and one is still in the Army recovering from injuries he sustained overseas. One of the things I remember them both saying they needed aside from all the items mentioned above were batteries. I got them keychains that had little games attached like electronic card games and they loved those too! Thanks everyone for your support of our troops!
            Dec. 6, 2009 6:22 pm
            Thank you Jen and Holly. I have been wanting to adopt a military person that the kids and I can write to, send goodies and all of that. There are so many that do not have a family and I know that it must be horrible to see others opening things from home and have nothing. Thank you for the tips on what to send that are needed. If any of you know of anyone specific that might be serving in a platoon and not have "people" who send them care packages, please feel free to email me and let me know. We would love to be someone's adopted family all year round, not just Christmas. Thank you!
            Dec. 9, 2009 11:47 am
            I would like to send cookies, but to someone who might not have someone to bake for them. What do you suggest?
            Dec. 10, 2009 12:02 pm
            My brother in Iraq keeps requesting drink mixes for bottles of water, he also likes hot chocolate mixes and the small powdered individual coffee creamers he can carry on convoys. He really wants good coffee but you can't mail coffee beans or grounds to Iraq though. You can pay for a cup of joe for a joe through greenbeans coffee program. My brother was so excited when he got his free cup of coffee from a stranger. I also sent him a gift card he used to buy good coffee in Iraq.
            Dec. 10, 2009 1:11 pm
            this is soooooo great. I'm so proud of my fellow Americans. why don't we hear more about this on the flyby news. 'm going to all the suggested sites and do my best. my son is serving and away from friends and family for the season of light. Jesus is the reason for the season. God bless you all.
            Dec. 10, 2009 3:04 pm
            One way we discovered to keep any cookies in one piece while shipping was to use an empty pringles can. (Rinse it quickly to remove any crumbs) You may have to experiment with the size of the cookies to get a perfect fit, but it works well and it's resealable.
            Dec. 11, 2009 8:52 am
            Thank you CHIPPER11 for a great idea. I just went on the greenbeanscoffee site and was able to purchase several cups of joe for a joe. I will continue to do so each pay period.
            Dec. 11, 2009 4:54 pm
            My boyfriend is in the military and he told me to stop sending him cookies and brownies because he was gaining weight. If you want to stay with the food theme, they LOVE drink mixes, trail mix, and granola bars that don't melt in the heat. If nothing else, they just love getting mail.
            Dec. 12, 2009 9:42 am
            I want to send care packages to our soldiers over seas, but i do not have any names or addresses, i think about them everyday and we over in America have a warm bed to sleep in and can eat any kind of food we choose, not them, I wnat them to feel special. Please send me addresses and namers of the soldiers so i can send care packages, not just for christmas, but all year long. thanks
            Dec. 12, 2009 11:19 am
            To Foxxie--Go to and sent the products they need. I too, would like to continue doing this thoughout the year. Their needs do not stop after Christmas. Also, send cards and notes of encouragement.
            Dec. 12, 2009 2:19 pm
            If you know a Southern boy you'll make his day to send a hotpot, tea bags and sugar too. Send along travel games, batteries, sports equipment etc. It makes them very popular with their units! I've sent about 50 care packages to my brother-in-law who is now stateside and am now gearing up for my nephew who deploys this spring. Boredom is a pervasive problem and mail, anybody's mail, is a highlight for the entire unit. If you know a soldier, get names from him of guys in his unit to drop a postcard to. They're very appreciative of even a few sentences.
            Dec. 14, 2009 12:12 pm
            My younger brother wanted Starbucks instant coffee - and books about sports - he and the guys in his unit spend alot of time quizzing each other on sports stats and whatnot :)
            Dec. 15, 2009 12:10 pm
            When my husband was in Desert Storm, I sent him pouches of Gatorade, TastyCakes and Drakes. I sent spices like basil, garlic salt, seasoned salt and oregeno to flavor the bland MRE's(although I've heard they have improved them since then). Over the years, I have donated to any group that was sending a package to a soldier. As many have said, soldiers share their care packages.
            Dec. 16, 2009 7:34 am
            Another wonderful source for adopting a soldier is the website! My daughter and I have adopted 5 soldiers through this great program! One of my female soldiers is coming back stateside in January, but she wants to keep in touch still. This has been the most wonderful thing I've ever done. They really do appreciate "civilian love" from us back here in the good ole USA! I always make sure to ask my soldiers what they like, specifically, and try to send that! If not - I just load the box up with goodies and magazines! And, yes, they always share with their comrades! They also love silly little toys - one of my females loved the camoflauge water balloons I sent in the summer!
            Dec. 16, 2009 7:35 am
            My bad! Correction on the website address: Oops! -- Ellen
            Dec. 17, 2009 6:52 am
            This information is VERY helpful but I have committed to baking cookies for 2 soldiers (my 7 year old wanted to help too & make her famous spritz cookies) so I will still be baking cookies but I will also be sure to send some of the needed, more practical items listed. Thank you to all the families that have made so many sacrifices to keep our country free. May God bless each and every one of you & may your loved ones return home safely.
            Dec. 19, 2009 5:20 pm
            If you would like to adopt a soldier...please go to They will assign a soldier to you within 2 days by sending you an email. I received my soldier's information the next day. They gave me his email address and also his APO address. I just received an email from the website asking for additional volunteers. Please ladies...anything you can do is appreicated. My husband served 8mths in Iraq back in 2003 and he really appreciated any mail.
            Dec. 19, 2009 5:30 pm
            Wanted to also add to some of the previous post on what the soldiers really like in their care packages. My husband stressed that ANY mail was really appreciated b/c at the end of the day, just getting a letter really made his day. But, when I send care packages. (which was all the time) He really like the baby wipes, beef jerky, peanuts,trail mix, gatorade mixes. Anything that was quick and easy to eat like those little vienna sausages or small cans of beenie weenies. I also to my adopt a soldier some package Christmas cookies and a Yahtzee game. They like things like that to share with the other soldiers..books, etc. They usually have a library where they will share their books/games etc.
            Dec. 23, 2009 8:57 am
            Thought I'd share the tips I used for getting cookies to Afghanistan. The Pringle's cans really do work. Used the plain flavored ones and just wiped them out with a paper towel. Made sure the cookies were packed in tightly so there was no movement and then froze them. Bubble wrapped the cans then boxed them. They got there in 10 days and my friend was thrilled she said they tasted fresh and weren't broken. Even sent the allrecipes cranberry orange biscotti it was modified to comply with the rules. She can't wait to come home for the orange liquor ones. The baby wipes and other stuff make a lot of sense to send though. My friend says we can't imagine how dry and dusty it is there. I'm glad to learn how to adopt a solider because my friend is done and coming home in Jan. My cookies brightened her day but I'll be more than happy to send other things to brighten another soldier's day.
            Nov. 30, 2011 12:27 am
            Ok I am ready to ship and I see your shipping recommendation says don't use butter but the recipes you provide in the recipe box (choc chip cookies) said butter. Now I am confused bc I already made the cookies ! :/ please help
            Dec. 4, 2012 4:41 pm
            Hi Everyone :) My Daughter 21yo is in the Army over in Afghanistan and she tells me that she is the only one that gets care packages regularly. She tells me that no one else really gets any because their family's back home just can't afford to send them ( young married couples with kids ) I try to send her stuff she can share to but it gets Expensive! I know this is a cooking sight but they are not allowed to eat any home cooked goods unless you know the person that sent it! So they will get thrown away Sorry :( She always asks for peanut butter ,popcorn ,animal crackers ,ritz crackers, candy,gum,cables chunky soups,cand green beans ,wolf brand chilly, (yes I mailed her a small can opener) it depends on ware there stationed at on what kind of food and for the troops care packages they get. I always use the large flat rate box it runs between $11 & $15 to mail one I usually put the soups and peanut butter type stuff in one box and top it off with loos small candy bars to pack it t
            Jan. 24, 2014 1:08 pm
            No temptation to handlers of the package. Seriously!
            Go Pro!

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