Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Shipping and Shopping

Ahhh, the holidays… the most wonderful time of the year, and also the most stressful. Between holiday parties, family functions and all the work that comes along with the end of the year, it can be hard to stay on top of your holiday shipping and shopping alone. Luckily, we’ve laid out the most important things  you should remember when shipping to friends and family in other states.

Holiday shipping
Giving the right gift takes time and planning!

Shopping 

Keep size in mind: If you are shopping for someone out of state, then don’t forget to consider the cost of shipping. It will cost more to ship larger and heavier items compared to a small letter-sized envelope. If the ultimate gift you have in mind is large, then consider a gift card to the merchant that carries it instead. This way, the recipient can pick up the gift in their own city. With most gift cards, you will only need to send a small envelope.

Get a gift receipt: Always opt for a gift receipt. If the recipient is unhappy with the gift or needs to do something as simple as exchanging the item for a different size/style; it will be much easier with a gift receipt. Many times people mistakenly believe that they are getting exactly what the gift recipient wants. Asking for the original receipt can be awkward, so make things easy and ask for the gift receipt.

Shipping

Use a sturdy box: Make sure your box is strong enough to endure the shipping process and protect the items inside. You can still be festive without compromising strength with colorful and festive boxes like these.

Calculate postage price in advance: You can avoid delays by making sure you have applied enough postage to your package. This postage calculator from USPS will help you make an accurate estimate. Additionally, you can take your package to your nearest shipping center and they will calculate it for you- you can pay there and then send it off.

Another option to avoid high shipping costs is choosing a flat-rate shipping box. USPS flat-rate boxes are offered in multiple sizes and ship based on the box size instead of package weight. USPS also offers flat-rate APO/FPO boxes specifically for sending gifts to troops.

Verify the “to” and “from” addresses: Before you write them on the box or envelope, make sure you have all of the necessary elements of the address accurate. These include:
Name
Street Address
City, state and zip code

Write legibly: The postal employees must be able to understand the information on the package, so PRINT clearly.

holiday shipping boxes
Holiday shipping boxes don’t have to be brown. Bring cheer at the sight of the package- not the gift.

Package with protection and be sure to cushion inside the box appropriately with packing peanuts or foam padding. Write “FRAGILE” on the outside of boxes that contain breakable items.

Additionally, take note of these important deadlines provided by USPS:
Week of November 12th: begin ordering boxes packaging and shipping supplies
December 15th: Last day to ship parcel post for X-Mas arrival
December 17th: Last day to ship to military for Christmas arrival
December 19th:  Last day for most international shipping for Christmas arrival
December 20th: Last day to send First-Class Mail® for Christmas arrival
December 21st:  Last day to send Priority Mail® for Christmas arrival
December 22nd: Last day for most Express Mail® for Christmas arrival

If you are shipping directly from a merchant’s website, they may have their own shipping deadlines that are farther in advance than those listed above; be sure to check.
Optional insurance and tracking: The holidays are a busy time not only for you, but also for the post office. It is always recommended to opt-in to receive a tracking number and shipping insurance. The tracking number will give you proof that the package was delivered, and getting insurance will protect your packages should anything happen to them during the shipping process.

What are your tips and tricks to staying on top of your holiday gift-giving? Tell us below in the comments.

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