Shopping for holiday gifts is one of the joys of the season, but holiday shipping can be a challenge. Plan ahead to make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to not only pick out the perfect gift, but also to pack it and mail it in time for the gifts to reach your friends and loved ones.
Remember that shipping times may take longer than usual during the holiday season, so check with your shipping service for an estimated shipping time, and ship gifts with plenty of time to spare.
Many online sites, such as Amazon, allow you to purchase gifts and mail them directly to the recipient. While this is certainly a convenient way to do your holiday shopping, it doesn't allow you to add gift wrap and add some personal touches like handwritten notes and holiday crafts.
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Follow these easy tips when prepping and mailing your holiday gifts.
Things You'll Need
Prepare holiday gifts for shipping
1. Create a list of friends and family
Consider the list of people who will be the recipients of your Christmas gifts. If there are several, you might want to find a way to streamline the process for yourself. Once you decide who will receive gifts via mail or other shipping methods, your work is easy.
2. Purchase holiday gifts
Select gifts that travel well and will not arrive broken. Choose toys that can be protected safely while in transit. Clothing is a good choice and should make it intact to its destination.
Gift certificates and gift cards are always good and do not require special treatment as they can go into a Christmas card.
3. Purchase packing supplies
Purchase all of the appropriate mailing materials. Use the correct-size shipping box. Place all gifts into the box, filling empty spaces with bubble wrap or Styrofoam peanuts.
Wrap your packages in Christmas paper before putting them in a shipping box. When recipients open the outer box they will know to put the gift under the tree until Christmas Day.
Mail the Christmas gifts
1. Prepare the box for shipping
Place wrapped gifts in the box and add plenty of padding and packing material to make sure they are secure in the box.
Expensive glassware or delicate items should be heavily wrapped and protected with shipping materials.
Seal the box securely using strong packing tape. Clearly print the shipping and return addresses on the outside of the box or on a specially prepared shipping label.
2. Select a shipping service
Decide which shipping service you want to use to ship your gifts. Two of the main considerations for many people are cost and the time it takes for the packages to reach their destination. There are many mail service companies to choose from, but three popular choices include the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx.
Each of these services offers different shipping options. Some of the common options include:
- USPS retail ground which takes two to three business days
- USPS Priority Mail which takes one to two business days
- USPS Priority Mail Express which guarantees delivery next-day or on the second day
- UPS shipping options range from next-day delivery to delivery within five days
- FedEx Ground which takes one to five days
- FedEx Overnight delivery which guarantees next day delivery
Since the holiday season is a busy time as many more people ship packages than usual, make sure to allow a few extra days for your package to arrive. If you miss the shipping deadlines, you can pay more for guaranteed overnight delivery.
Both USPS and UPS offer flat-rate shipping options which may be the cheapest way to ship gifts if you are sending heavy objects. The shipping companies also offer tools on their websites so that you can estimate shipping costs based on the size and weight of your packages.
3. Purchase postage and mail the package
Take your package to the post office or UPS or FedEx store. If you aren't using a flat rate box, the employee will weigh and measure the package to calculate the shipping cost. After you finish purchasing postage, the package will be ready for the next pickup and on its way to its destination.
Purchase the optional insurance if the package contains something expensive or fragile. It will more than pay for itself by giving you peace of mind.
Mailing holiday gifts can be a hassle, but with a bit of planning and preparation, it doesn't need to take any joy from the holiday season. Make sure to ship the package with plenty of time to spare or consider guaranteed next day shipping.