Monday, December 10, 2018

December 10 -- Tips for mailing Christmas packages

(Astute readers will recognize this as a repost from my Christmas blog last year.  I share it again this year without apology, hoping it will be truly helpful to someone.)

  I'm not by any means an expert on this, but I have learned a few things over a dozen years of mailing packages to loved ones in a distant time zone.  When I mentioned doing click and print labels and scheduling carrier pickups of priority mail packages here on my blog last year,  one of my readers told me she had learned something new.  She had been standing in long lines!  That made me aware that there are probably other readers who might benefit from my package-mailing tips.

1.  One of the biggest, and the postal service always tells you this, is mail early.  I will never forget the year we spent over $60 to mail a package to Nevada because a) the box was huge; and b) the hour was late.  And yes, I may be posting this a little late for you to mail really early, but do it as soon as you can!

2.  Flat rate priority mail boxes are the very best deal for mailing to distant states because they will ship for one flat rate regardless of how much they weigh.   The boxes come in small, medium (two different shapes of box), and large.  The rates, of course, vary with the size of the box.  I generally find that I can fit quite a bit into one of the medium boxes of either shape.

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3.  Of course, if you are mailing local and your items are relatively light, flat rate will not be a good deal for you.  You will want to have your packages weighed so you don't pay more postage than necessary.  When packing gifts, do pay attention to the size of the box.  A huge box is going to cost more to send than two smaller boxes (which might hold the same amount), as a general rule.

4.  Click'n'Ship means you can pay for and print postage right online.  This is very easy indeed if you are using the flat rate boxes.  Below you see a printed-out label affixed to a box.
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5.  If you have printed your label and affixed it to your box, you can schedule a carrier pickup.  This is great and I have used this service countless times.  If you schedule the pickup to take place during your regular mail delivery, there is no charge for this service.  There are a number of options as to where you will leave the package for pickup -- at or in the mailbox, at the front door, on the porch, and so on. You can schedule a pickup the night before for the next day.  No muss, no fuss -- and most importantly, no standing in line!

6.  If your gifts for your faraway loved ones tend to include books, you can send those via media mail  for a pittance.  You will have to go to a post office for this option, but it is really helpful, as books are heavy.  You will definitely want to mail early if you go this route.  It's been my experience that media mail gets there almost as quickly as parcel post, but it doesn't always work out that way, so plan ahead if you choose to do this.

7.  Finally, if you find that you do need to do your mailing of packages at a post office, consider using a different post office to do so.  My local post office is downtown, less than 5 minutes away, but there are parking issues and nearly always a lengthy line at this time of year.  Rather than waste time and energy, I use the post office in the next town.  It's only 10 minutes away, parking is ample and easy, and I have never waited in a line there regardless of the time of year.

Just a few simple tips.  I am sure there is much more that could be said on this subject, but I trust that these hints are helpful to someone!


  1. Was I that one? Because I am still doing it the old-fashioned way and this post feels brand new all over again. 🙃

  2. I got all my cards and packages in the mail last week as I knew it was going to get busier and busier at the post office. Tis the Season to be busy!

  3. All good info, every year!


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