Plan ahead and pack properly. That’s the mantra of the season.
We’re not talking holiday getaways to tropical locales. We’re talking presents. Whether shipping gifts through the U.S. Postal Service or through an independent carrier like UPS, it pays to ship early and pay a little extra attention to your packing job.
There may be 31 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you only have 18 shipping days. Because Christmas falls on a Monday this year, plan for packages to arrive the Friday before.
“If you want your package to get it there in time for Christmas, you should send it by Tuesday, Dec. 19,” said Rebecca Andrews, company spokeswoman for the UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc.
To beat the crowds, though, you may need a bigger head start. “Our busiest shipping week will be Dec. 18 to 22, with that Monday being the busiest day,” Andrews said. “If at all possible, don’t come in on a Monday. It’s always our busiest shipping day, so there will be longer lines.”
Procrastinators can ship as late as Dec. 22 for a Dec. 23 arrival, but it will cost more. Shipping early means fewer headaches and more money in your pocket.
“Ship your packages as early as possible. It won’t necessarily save time, but it will save you money because you can ship it by the least expensive mode,” Andrews said.
But, before you ship any package, make sure it’s packed properly:
- Use a complete and correct address, and print addresses clearly. Include all address elements like apartment and suite numbers.
- Include both “to” and “from” information on packages, but only on one side.
- Include a label on the inside of the package with the destination address and your return address.
- Choose a strong box, not gift boxes, with enough room for cushioning material around the contents.
- If reusing a box, cover all previous labels and markings with a black marker or adhesive labels.
- Cushion fragile contents appropriately. Fill hollow items like vases with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage due to shock. When mailing framed photographs, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately.
- Always use tape that is designed for shipping to seal all seams. Do not use duct tape, masking tape, or cellophane tape to seal packages.
- Do not ship flammable materials like matches, lighters or cologne and perfume. Do not ship aerosol cans or other items that are under pressure.
- Take all batteries out of toys and electronics before shipping.
- If traveling, consider shipping the packages ahead of time to assure they arrive.