It’s that time of year again… Pumpkin spice is fading into peppermint, a chill is in the air, and everyone is counting down the days until they get to open their PRESENTS!
Maybe you have family in different states. Maybe you just won’t be making it home for the holidays. For whatever reason, you’re shipping gifts – and you’re not alone! This is the busiest time of year for the post office, UPS, and Fedex. Since it’s such a busy time, making sure gifts get to your loved ones safely before Christmas can be tricky. Here are my top ten hacks for shipping holiday gifts.
- Choose wisely: Picking a gift that can be shipped easily may seem simple but there are some things you should keep in mind.
For example, it may seem like a great idea to send a bottle of local wine. However, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah have laws against delivery of alcohol to private homes. Several other states specify that bottles of wine may be shipped “when purchased by the customer on-site at the winery.” For a complete
list of state statutes on alcohol delivery go here: http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/direct-shipment-of-alcohol-state-statutes.aspx
Live plants, fresh fruits and vegetables, electronics that come with certain types of batteries, and liquids or powders may have similar restrictions
- Use Quality Packing Materials: it’s best to invest in a polyethylene shipping foam because most polystyrene foam can only endure one impact. If you styrofoam packing peanuts they will compact from the first impact, leaving extra room in your package for your items to jostle around and break.
Using a stronger but thinner cushioning material is best because it allows you to use a smaller shipping box, and save on shipping costs.
For these reasons I recommend Cushion Foam Sheets
- The Box Matters: To save money, many holiday shippers will reuse an old box. Old boxes can be worn, wrinkled, and even creased. What most people don’t realize is that wrinkles and creases in boxes can reduce its strength by up to 70% and dramatically increase the risk of damaged gifts.Use a sturdy new box big enough to fit 1-2” of cushioning foam on all sides of your package. Many shippers, such as UPS, will provide free shipping boxes.
- Gift Box Within Shipping Package: You want to give your loved ones the experience of opening a beautifully wrapped holiday gift on Christmas morning. Don’t just throw your gifts into the shipping box and send that!If you have loose items that need to be protected inside of your neatly wrapped gift I recommend packing them in decorative crinkle packaging You can get it in fun colors, it provides protective cushioning, and it’s easier to use than tissue paper. The double cushioning whammy of an inner box stuffed with crinkle paper and an outer box cushioned with polyethylene foam should protect the most fragile items.
- Perishables: If you’re sending meats, cheeses, cookies or other perishables send them on a Monday or Tuesday, ideally next day delivery. If you ship them slower, or later in the week, make sure they can handle extreme temperatures for up to four days. You may want to pack them with frozen gel packs.If shipping baked goods, remember that frosting is not going to survive the journey. Wrap cookies and brownies individually in wax paper or plastic to prevent crumbling. Fill any empty space inside of Tupperware loosely with wax paper or plastic so that they cannot rattle around too much.
When packing food containers in a shipping box, first line the bottom of the box with a few layers of cushion foam sheets. Then add food containers with the heaviest on the bottom. Pack any empty space in the box with additional cushioning foam.
The goal is to keep the gifts as close to the center as possible, totally nested in foam. Don’t forget foam on the top!
- The H Tape Method: Make sure to apply tape along every seam of your box prior to shipping. Sometimes shipping equipment can get snagged on open seams and rip open packages in transit. The H tape method is the best way to keep your package from opening before it gets to your loved ones.
- Shake Shake Shake: There should be very little movement when you shake this box. Be aware that no matter how much money you pay for shipping, it’s likely that some delivery guy is going to carelessly chuck that box into or off of a truck in the next day or two. Pack it tight!
- Deadlines: Plan ahead by knowing shipping deadlines.
Here are the shipping deadlines for 2017:
UPS (within the continental US)
Dec 18 – Deadline for UPS 3 Day Select shipments (delivery on Dec 22).
Dec 20 – Deadline for UPS 2nd Day Air shipments (delivery on Dec 22).
Dec 22 – Deadline for UPS Next Day Air shipments. (delivery on Dec 23). Note that these packages must be processed and labeled for Saturday delivery, which is not available in all ZIP codes.
Dec 24 & 25 – No pickup or delivery service. UPS Express Critical services available.USPS (within the continental US)
Dec 15 – Deadline for Standard Parcel Post (Mail) shipments. Get your Christmas cards off by today.
Dec 20 – Deadline for First Class Mail and Priority Mail shipments.
Dec 23 – Deadline for Priority Express Mail shipments.Fedex (within the continental US)
Dec 11 – Deadline for FedEx SmartPost shipments.
Dec 15 – Deadline for FedEx Ground shipments.
Dec 18 – Deadline for FedEx Home Delivery shipments.
Dec 19 – Deadline for FedEx Express Saver shipments.
Dec 20 – Deadline for FedEx 2-Day and 2-Day A.M. shipments.
Dec 21 – Deadline for FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, First Overnight shipments.
- Don’t Forget About Flat Rate USPS Boxes: Did you pick an unusually heavy gift? A medium flat rate box (11 1/4″ x 8 3/4″ x 6″) can send up to 70 lbs anywhere in the United States for $13.60 – so if your item is small but heavy, you may benefit from the flat rate service at the post office.
- Insure Expensive Items: Remember that this is the busiest time of the year for package delivery services. There are bound to be mistakes! Packages are going to go missing, and if yours is one of them you want to be protected.