Whether sending your package across the country or across the ocean, it can be easy, inexpensive, and hassle-free using the following guidelines.
There's no shortage of options for domestic shipments. Many shippers even offer their own flat rate boxes. If, however, you're using your own box, it's less than 70 pounds, and you want an economical choice, USPS might be the way to go as long as you adhere to their rules.
Use Clear or Brown Packaging Tape
This means no duct tape, masking tape, cellophane tape or string. Apply at least three strips of packing tape to the top and bottom sides of the package, making sure you secure corners tightly.
Wrap and Cushion
Stuff empty spaces with peanuts, bubble wrap or newspapers (if you can find them). Wadded up grocery sacks do not provide enough protection against damage caused by shifting during transit. It's recommended you remove batteries in case the "on" switch activates, causing security issues when it emits humming, buzzing or ticking sounds. Wrap batteries separately within the package.
Don't Ship Hazardous Materials
USPS has strict rules on shipping chemicals, liquids, matches, weapons or other potential hazards. For more specifics, check out its website.
You can use either a shipping label or legibly print the address in upper case letters with a permanent marker. Put the recipient's name in the center of the most visible side of the box with your return address in the upper left-hand corner. Avoid seams that might distort addresses. In addition, USPS recommends putting the shipping and return addresses on a card inside the package in case the box gets damaged. Be sure to get a tracking number to make sure your package is received.
The process for international shipping is similar to domestic with a couple of key differences. You'll want to allow much more time - up to four weeks for delivery depending on the country. Double check the destination address as formats, naming and numbering conventions can vary significantly. Be sure your box is sturdy, and you have ample cushioning because your package will be traveling a greater distance and handled more. At USPS you'll be provided several shipping options with prices and a delivery schedule for each. Complete the official forms and declarations, then you're done.
For those who want to save time, it may be worth the extra cost to use a widely available pack-and-ship service. Simply take your wrapped gifts and addresses, and they'll secure the items inside the appropriate sized box and take it from there.
Selecting meaningful gifts can be stressful enough, shipping doesn't have to be. You can de-stress the holidays with shipping materials and advice from Twist OP.