Unless you have a team of elves, you’ll probably ship a few gifts this holiday season. But a trip to the post office doesn’t need to turn into an afternoon outing. Here are some tips on how to get your holiday gifts safely and efficiently to their destination.
- Allow three inches per side between the gift box and the shipping box. Fill it with crumpled paper or foam.
- Seal boxes with at least 2-inch wide clear or brown packaging tape. Generally, the post office will not accept scotch or masking tape.
- Avoid patterned mailing envelopes or holiday print tape. It’s a dead giveaway that a valuable gift is inside.
- To keep those gifts looking good until they reach their destination, use sturdy paper or metallic wrapping. Skip the bows, they’ll just get smashed. A thick, patterned ribbon can add a festive touch instead.
- Print shipping labels and pay for postage through the Click-N-Ship program as USPS.com and save up to 15%.
- Avoid the Post Office completely when you schedule a free package pickup during your regular mail delivery.
- To guarantee delivery by the holidays, USPS recommends mailing packages and cards by December 14th—otherwise you may have to pay extra to rush it.
- Disguise gift cards by sending them in a small box or padded envelope, not a greeting card, which is obvious to the touch. Registered Mail is the only way to insure gift cards for their full value. When sent by Express, they are only protected for up to $15, the maximum indemnity for cash and negotiable items.
Final Tip: You may not be able to hire elves, but you can have retailers take care of the shipping for you. Shop online with coupon codes and have the package sent directly to the recipient. Gift wrapping fees cost around $5, but if you combine that with a free shipping offer, you’re still paying less than you would be if you did it yourself.