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The "Packing 411" Gives Holiday Shoppers the Upper Hand on Sending Gifts

Feb 4, 2008
When it comes to handling gifts, Santa has the advantage over everyone, but with a little preparation and know-how, consumers still have some tricks up their own sleeves. It may not include a flying sleigh or eight reindeer, but there's no need to panic when it comes to shipping and receiving holiday packages.

"We've seen some wild packages come through the door over the years," said Audrey Jones, The UPS Store franchisee. "All that work to find the perfect gift can be wasted if the package isn't properly prepared for shipping."

To ensure packages are delivered in perfect condition, she suggests using a new box specifically designed for shipping, instead of moving boxes. The old boxes in the basement left over from the last move or catalog order are not the best choices. Also, choose packing materials that provide bubble cushioning. Old clothes and newspapers don't offer the right amount of protection for that "perfect gift." For perishable foods, place foods in an airtight container or plastic bag before placing them in a gift box. Fill gapes in the container with squares of bubble cushioning to soften the vibration.

Before closing the box, place an extra mailing label inside, just in case the outside label is damaged. Seal the outside of the box with clear, professional-grade packaging tape. Duct tape, making tape and cellophane tape, as well as packages wrapped in paper or tied with string are no-no's. The proper shipping supplies are available at local shipping companies such as UPS.

For those who are seeking a more "green" alternative to standard shipping, companies such as the UPS Store are introducing earth-friendly packaging that eliminates the need for bubble cushioning and packaging peanuts for many items. Biodegradable peanuts are also being produced and are available at select UPS stores. Still, customers can be earth-friendly with the use of recycled boxes for their shipping supplies.. And even though those packing peanuts are not a favorite "green" item, it's a great idea to reuse them in packages rather than throwing them away. Overall, customers who choose carefully just in the size of the box they send, rather than grabbing whatever seems easiest, will help to reduce the use of fuel during delivery, which can have a great impact on the environment.

For do-it-yourselfers, Internet shipping options enable customers to indicate their service preferences, pay by credit card, print shipping labels and track packages. Once the label has been placed on the package, customers can choose to drop their package off at the local shipping company, arrange for a pick up, or drop off at a UPS drop box.

With only 21 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, the week before Christmas week is expected to be the busiest shipping week. Since Monday is usually the busiest shipping day of the week, consider mailing packages Tuesday through Saturday. Customers should plan on five days for most ground shipping and make sure to consult their shipping company to determine the best dates for on-time delivery when shipping internationally or to military personnel. Most of these shipping businesses also offer extended holiday hours for customers' convenience.

UPS's mail rooms will be bursting as they expect to deliver 5.6 million air packages on Friday, December 21 - more than two-and-a-half times the normal daily volume. It is also geared up to handle more than 150 million online package tracking requests during the week of December 19. To handle this immense volume, the company serves as one of the holiday season's top employers, adding roughly 60,000 seasonal employees. Its ground fleet of more than 94,000 package cars, vans, and tractors has expanded by approximately 7,000 vehicles. For procrastinators, UPS accepts Next Day Air packages on Friday, Dec. 21 for delivery on Monday, Dec. 24, just in time for the big day.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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