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Tips for Mailing Fragile Items for the Holidays

6513056373_4856389257_zPhoto by LornaWatt / Flickr

With families far-flung in this modern era, we just don’t get together for the holidays in person as much as in the past. This is no excuse for losing contact though, and it certainly does not get you out of shopping for your Memaw. Gift cards? Really? Once you’ve found that perfect something you know will be adored, you need to get it to your equally adored one safely and actually near the holiday that you’re aiming for. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be getting a thank you card soon, and keep that $5 bill coming in your next birthday card from Gran.


  • Check: Remember, you cannot ship just everything in the world everywhere around the world. Alcohol (even beer), perfume, prescription drugs, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, and firearms are not permitted to be shipped in the United States and many other countries prohibit these shipments as well.


  • Pad: You must cushion the items to be shipped, do not skip this step. While infinitely annoying and eternally escaping, foam “peanuts” are your best bet. Newspaper, bubble wrap, shredded paper, why not, throw it all in.


  • Box: Skip the booze boxes this time and invest in a sturdy, clean, intact, new box with no prior labeling. Your package will be safer and, as a bonus, not look a mess!


  • Mark: Clearly write the word “FRAGILE” in all caps with bold, thick letters, in several spots on the box – add “PERISHABLE” if it is. Live animals, food items, and plants are considered perishable. But please, do NOT ship live animals. That’s just mean. And it could go…badly.


  • Label: Most shippers will provide their own branded labels – use them. Print clearly, no cursive or flourishes as oft-times machines are reading your scrawl. Include a card, label, or page with the shipping information, both to and from, inside the box as well. If something happens to the outside of the box and mailing information is lost, these may get the item back on it’s journey.


  • Weigh: If you have a postal scale, that’ll do. If not, the old trick of weighing yourself holding the box on your bathroom scale, and then weighing yourself again without the box, and subtracting the difference really does work. Weighing in advance will give you a hint of how much you’ll have to dole out to the shipping cashier. Here are handy online shipping estimators for USPS, UPS, and FedEx.


  • Insure: Just do it. Shi—stuff happens. Even if you’re getting storage containers for events, this is a good idea.


  • Take: A trip to the Post Office, UPS Store, or FedEx is necessary with fragile items. Avoid the drop boxes. You don’t know what crushingly heavy and leaky mess will be dropped in after your package!


  • Track: Every reputable shipping company today offers online package tracking for free. You can follow your package as it travels to it’s destination, or you can slack off and spoil the surprise by handing off the tracking information to the recipient. Your call, but you know what you should do, don’t you?


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