Since many of us have friends or family that we’ll be mailing gifts to this holiday season, I decided it might be helpful to share a few packing and shipping tips that will save you time and frustration.
- Pack appropriately. Books and clothing are ok to ship in bubble mailer envelopes. Christmas ornaments are not. Anything fragile, including glass, porcelain, and electronics should be package in an appropriately sized box, ideally with 2” or more of cushioning between the item(s) and the sides of the box. If you’re sending multiple fragile items in the same box, be sure to wrap each piece separately in multiple layers of bubble wrap and/or clean newsprint. Consider double boxing the contents for added protection.
- Get tracking and insurance. USPS Priority Mail packages automatically include tracking and up to $50 of insurance coverage, while UPS and FedEx packages include tracking and up to $100 of insurance coverage. If you’re going to ship valuable items (such as jewelry or expensive electronics), be sure that the package is insured for the full value and consider adding signature confirmation to the package. After all, you don’t want Grandma’s new iPad walking off the doorstep, do you?
- Keep your receipts. If you do have problems with a package getting lost or damaged, the shipping company will need to know the tracking number, shipping cost, the value of the item(s), proof of damage (pictures), and a repair or replacement estimate. Gathering this information prior to filing a claim will help save you time and additional hassle.
- Avoid the lines. You can purchase postage from the USPS, FedEx, and UPS directly from their websites and sometimes at a discount versus their counter rates. The USPS will even pick-up packages for free at your doorstep (FedEx and UPS charge a $5 fee), providing you schedule a pick-up through their website. This can be a huge timesaver, especially if you have multiple or oversized packages to send.
- Don’t procrastinate. Remember last year when Amazon overpromised and UPS under delivered, right before Christmas? Don’t wait until the last minute (like everyone else) and expect your package to be delivered on time. Add at least 1-2 days to the handy holiday shipping guide available at shipstation.com/blog and you should have a reasonably good change of your package(s) arriving on time.
- Be nice to your delivery person(s). They work long hours in cold weather and have families at home, too. USPS employees can accept gift cards valued at $20 or less, while freshly baked goods or cookies are usually welcomed by all delivery drivers.