The delightful season of fall is upon us – most of the country will be changing clocks next week, the marathoners will hit the streets of NYC, pumpkins are being carved and those of us in the Valley of the Sun are enjoying temps in the 80s and counting down the remaining 100 days to SuperBowl XLIX.
Fall signals the stressful season of ‘prepping-for-The-Holidays’. Packing and sending The Holiday gifts is a frequent, yet easily remedied, source of stress for many. At Gifts To Go it is our ardent wish to eradicate this stress and we’re starting with this post. In the spirit of continuous improvement and community involvement, we look forward to your comments.
Aside from sturdy and clean, choose a box that allows space inside to appropriately cushion for the contents. If re-using a box choose one that provides a clear space for the addresses and remember it will be weakened the more times it is used. Avoid boxes that have lots of text or product pictures as it will make it harder for the delivery personnel to find and read the address. Do not re-use bleach or alcohol boxes such as the kind used at Sam’s Club or Costco. Draw several lines through any earlier barcodes. Your role as the box packer is to make it as easy as possible for everyone who touches your box along the way to handle it properly.
Gifts To Go sells a small selection of new sturdy boxes ranging in price from $0.95 (6″ x 6″ x 6″) to $1.75 (12″ x 12″ x 12″). The postage on these boxes will be based on the package’s weight and the distance it is being sent in conjunction with the speed of delivery.
USPS offers and Gifts To Go stocks several Flat Rate Priority and Flat Rate Priority Express boxes and envelopes for free. Regardless of the shipment’s weight or US delivery location, the postage of these items is standardized and ranges from $5.75 to $44.95. See the details below. Pricing is for US destinations but Flat Rate Priority and Flat Rate Priority Express boxes and envelopes can be used internationally. Global rates apply. Also, the top loading large Flat Rate Priority box postage is discounted $2 when sent to US military service personnel.
A Word About USPS Delivery Services
USPS offers three delivery services for items weighing 13+ ounces: Standard (less expensive but slower includes package tracking online), Priority (2-4 day delivery speed in US, more expensive, includes package tracking online and $50 insurance) and Priority Express (generally overnight delivery in US, most expensive, includes packing tracking online and $100 insurance).
While boxes of all shapes are acceptable for USPS shipping, the measurement of the length of the box plus the measurement around the widest portion of the box must be less than a total of 130″; for Priority or Priority Express shipment the total of length plus widest portion must be less than 108″. The weight limit of all parcels is 70 pounds.
Prepping Box Content
Keep in mind that alcohol or anything that contains alcohol such as perfumes or bug sprays cannot be shipped as alcohol is flammable. Liquids can be sent but should be wrapped in plastic in case they leak and then cushioned. To the extent possible distribute the contents’ weight evenly as this will help reduce the number of times the box is dropped or mishandled. Cushion all contents and remove empty space with extra filler. Generally rolling soft items is a more efficient packing strategy over flat folding.
Place a piece of paper with the sender’s and recipient’s addresses inside the box in the unlikely event the outer address is damaged beyond recognition.
Sealing The Box
Use tape that is at least 2″ wide and either clear or brown. Avoid using duct tape which can become sticky. Do not use string or twine which can become stuck in post office sorting equipment. Keep in mind that tape will add weight that you’ll pay postage for so use only as much tape as needed to close the box.
Addressing The Box
Both the sender’s and recipient’s addresses should be legible and complete with full name, house number and street name (or PO Box number), city, state and zip code. The sender’s return address is placed to the upper left side of the recipient’s address. Make sure the text is appropriate to the size of the box. Either write directly on the box or affix a label. If using a label secure all edges of the label so it cannot be torn off. It’s a good idea to place a piece of tape across the address portions not just the edges of the label.
Need to verify the zip code?
A Word About International Shipments
The above guidelines are appropriate for international shipments. Bear in mind that the number of persons who will handle your package before it is delivered is greatly increased given the greater distances so sturdy box, weight balancing, sealing and addressing are even more important.
Packages sent outside of the US must be accompanied by a US Customs Form. There are two different forms; one for packages under 4 pounds and the other for heavier boxes. At federal post offices, the USPS postal clerk will key in information based on a paper form that you complete and sign. At Gifts To Go’s Contract Postal Unit we are operating with the newest USPS deployed system and do not have the ability to key in data. We will direct you to a dedicated laptop where you will input the required information, including weight, value and a description of the contents. We will be available to assist you with this process which will generate a paper customs form with a bar code specific to your package.
Each country has specific prohibitions, restrictions and limitations as to the type and quantities of materials that are acceptable for delivery. Before preparing any international shipment, be sure to check the requirements of the country to which you are sending.
We look forward to a season of stress free shipping and are happy to help with your questions or concerns. We are increasing our daily supply of flat rate boxes and envelopes so come by for yours at your convenience. We are open Monday – Saturday 9a – 5p; will be open on November 11, 2014 which is a USPS holiday. We will extend our days of service after Thanksgiving by including a few Sunday hours through Christmas.