FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2014 file photo, packages are sorted on a conveyer belt before being loaded onto trucks for delivery at a FedEx facility in Marietta, Ga. FedEx, UPS and e-commerce retailers are trying to avoid the problems that occurred last year when severe winter weather and a surge in late orders caused delivery delays. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
The United States Postal Service has restrictions on what can be shipped, both internationally and domestically. Some things, such as ammunition, are completely prohibited, while other things, such as nail polish and perfumes, have restrictions.
Make sure to use a new, sturdy box that’s a few inches larger than your gift on all sides to allow for plenty of packing materials. Using that box that’s been in the basement all year can result in your gifts cascading out at the wrong moment.
The Postal Service estimates that a crease can reduce a box’s strength by as much as 70 percent.
You want your packing job to result in a tight fit. Use at least 1 inch of cushioning around the item—top, bottom and all four sides — to fill in any air spaces. There should be very little movement when you shake the box.
The key point is to keep the gift items as far away from the box’s walls as possible. When you have a very fragile item, use two boxes, and cushion around the inner box with at least 3 inches of packing peanuts.
FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service all offer flat-rate boxes, meaning that you can pack as much as you can into a box and ship it for one price. However, these do come with some limits – for example, UPS and the USPS only allows up to 70 pounds, while FedEx only allows 50 pounds.
If you want to help your recipient avoid unwanted snooping from neighbors or children, consider sending the gift to their workplace. If it’s meant for kids, that’ll help keep it away from prying eyes. It will also help people from missing deliveries at home.
Keep your tracking numbers handy so you can pinpoint the package’s destination and lets its recipients know when to look out for it.
Santa’s delivery service isn’t always perfect, so it’s worth considering insurance on whatever you’re shipping.
Ask your shipper about insurance or a declared-value option. The post office includes $100 of insurance in its Priority Mail Express shipping and offers options for declaring a higher value, for a fee.
If your package ends up being damaged in transit, but the shipping company determines that you packed it improperly, or did not follow proper packing procedures, they may have grounds to deny your claim.