It’s not too early to start working on holiday care packages for friends and family members serving in the military.
Make a list, check for sales and look through your coupons.
Then check the post mark deadlines. Some U.S. Postal Service mailing deadlines are in mid-November.
Visit www.usps.com to review the packing, addressing and shipping guidelines.
To adopt a service member, organizations such as Soldiers’ Angels (www.soldiersangels.org) and Adopt a U.S. soldier (adoptaussoldier.org) are available.
Here are some more tips from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension:
Think in advance
* Consider the weather conditions where the recipient is located — how cold, dry, hot and humid, etc. — and how the food item will hold up during shipping.
* Do not pack food in glass containers. Aerosols are not allowed.
Foods not safe to mail
* Do not send fresh, cured or smoked meat, pork or pork by-products and poultry.
* Avoid cookies with perishable fillings such as cream or custard. Fruit and nut fillings work best.
* Soft, moist cookies will mold quickly in humid climates.
* Delicate cakes that crumb easily, pies and yeast breads are fragile and spoil easily.
* Do not frost a cake. Include a package of dry mix or commercially canned frosting.
Foods safe to mail
* Dry beef, such as beef jerky or beef slims, is safe to ship.
* Commercially processed and durable foods such as canned items with pop-top lids such tuna, chicken and franks and beans are safe.
* Commercially packed cakes and cookies in tins, fruit cakes and dry cookies such as ginger snaps and crackers will hold up well in many weather conditions.
* Microwavable soups, macaroni and cheese, brownie mix and popcorn are often requested.
* Raisins, apricots, other dried fruits, canned nuts and fruit and commercially prepared and packaged trail mix, as well as, shelf-stable pudding cups are good choices.
* Individually wrapped cereal, protein, granola, energy bars, chips and cakes are recommended as food gifts for all weather conditions.
* Pound cakes, bar cookies, brownies, fudge, shortbread, sugar cookies and nut bars ship well.
* Coffee blends are easy to pack into plastic or metal containers and ship.
Prepare for safe mailing
* When choosing a box, make sure it is big enough to allow plenty of packing material on all sides.
* Fill the mailing box with a layer of packing material such as newspaper, foam pieces or plastic bubble wrap. Center the gift in the middle of the mailing box. Then overfill the box with cushioning material, making sure there’s no air space left in the box.
* Do not use popped corn or puffed cereal as cushioning packing material, as they attract insects.
* Place food in clean boxes, metal tins or plastic boxes or bags.
* For cakes, use a container only slightly larger than the cake.
* If packaging cookies in the gift container, wrap flat cookies in pairs (back to back) with waxed paper between them and foil or plastic wrap around them.
* For nonflat cookies, wrap individually. Put crumpled wax paper or padding in the bottom of the container to cushion cookies.
* If cookies are layered, put waxed paper between the layers. Put heaviest cookies on the bottom and the lightest ones on top.
* Bar cookies and brownies are best packed uncut in the baking pan, or a box the size of the baking pan.
Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Call her at 770-535-8290. Her column appears biweekly on Wednesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.