Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Prep: Shipping Strategies Part 1

1. Make a list of packages you need to ship
If you're like me, you have at least a few Christmas gift recipients on your list to whom you will need to ship gifts this holiday season. Now is a good time to figure out who those lucky people are so that you can plan accordingly.

2. Purchase Packing Tape
Buy an extra one, because you will run out of tape on the first roll when you are halfway through packing everything up. I haven't figured out a way to avoid paying for tape; it's the only thing I purchase other than the shipping label.
3. Assemble Free Shipping Supplies
I've been shipping a lot of items this year as I've been working on my declutter challenge, and I'm proud to say that I have my shipping strategies down to a science. (Mostly.) I'm pleased that by recycling packaging that I receive, and using the resources at the post office, I've avoided having to spend money on anything other than packing tape and the shipping label itself! There are two ways I collect free shipping supplies:
  • Save packaging when shipped items are delivered to your house. I set up a storage area for shipping supplies in my basement so that when a package arrives, I can stow the useful packaging (boxes, air bags, bubble wrap, foam wrap, etc.) until I am able to reuse it. I don't save packing peanuts because they tend to make a mess. My favorite shipping material to reuse is a heavy duty plastic envelope. Turn it inside out, pack, tape, and seal. Presto!

  • Order flat rate shipping supplies from You can order flat rate shipping boxes and envelopes online, and the post office will deliver them to you for free! The minimum number of boxes in an order is 10, so if you just need a few, it may make more sense for you to pick them up individually from your post office. It costs $4.90 to send a flat rate envelope or small box, and more for a medium  or large flat rate box. (I find that the flat rate envelope and small box are most cost effective, unless sending heavy items long distances, such as across the country.)

4. Schedule a Shipping Deadline
Look at the calendar and figure out when would make sense for you to ship your items. I like to strike a balance between shipping closer to Christmas (because my grandmother opens her stuff right away) yet early enough so that I can have it out of the way in time to focus on local preparations. Make it a priority to purchase/make/bake items to be shipped sooner rather than later so that you will be prepared to ship all of your items at once. Remember to schedule time to pack the boxes; this step always seems to take longer than I expected.

In early December, I will explain how I avoid going to the post office completely, as well as what I do if I absolutely have to go to the post office.

This is one way I am trying to get organized for the holidays. I hope it works for you!

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