Staples | Holiday Shipping Simplified

Holiday Shipping Simplified

Whether you're shipping gifts to your grandmother or to your best client, you'll want the items to arrive on time and intact. Following are tips to help simplify the holiday shipping process.

Ship early

Don’t wait until the last minute to pack up your gifts and mail them. The United States Postal Service (USPS) recommends keeping these shipping methods and dates in mind. (Shippers such as FedEx and United Parcel Service (UPS) may have different suggestions.)

Type of mail When to use it (for delivery by 12/25)
Parcel Post Through December 11th
Priority (two–to–three–day) Through December 18th for all U.S. destinations and through December 22nd for local destinations (150 miles or fewer from your location)
Express or overnight Through December 20th for all U.S. destinations and through December 23rd for local destinations (150 miles or fewer from your location)

Choose the right mailing container

Be sure your box, padded envelope, or mailing tube is the appropriate size. A container that’s too big, even packed with cushioning, may allow your gifts to shift too much and become damaged. A too small container may not provide sufficient padding, also causing potential damage.

If you opt for a box, the USPS recommends boxes made of "heavy, corrugated cardboard. Thinner boxes, such as most shoe boxes or gift boxes, are not strong enough for shipping." UPS goes one step further, saying, "use a new box. The more a box is used, the more it loses its original protective qualities and may not adequately protect your shipment. If you must reuse a box, make sure it is rigid and in excellent condition with no punctures, tears, rips, or corner damage, and that all flaps are intact." 1

Maximum weight

On the bottom of boxes, manufacturers provide a strength certification – exactly how much weight the box can hold before breaking or rupturing. Follow these guidelines. Several sizes of Staples corrugated boxes will hold up to 65 lbs., 4 x 4 x 4, 6 x 6 x 6, 8 x 6 x 4, 8 x 8 x 8.


Ample padding protects the goods you’re shipping by absorbing and distributing forces of shock, pressure, and vibration, says the USPS. So don’t skimp on cushioning – options include bubble wrap, crumbled or shredded newspaper, and packing peanuts.

Item Tip
Vases, glasses, and similar items Stuff paper or padding into the center of the item
Picture frames Remove glass insets from picture frames and wrap them separately
Toys and electronics Take out batteries and wrap them individually
Computer equipment Pad and pack in Electro Static Discharge (ESD) bags

Shake and seal

Before sealing your package, hold the flaps closed and shake the box back and forth. If you can hear the items inside moving around, you need more padding.

Then seal the box with strong packing tape that is specifically designed for shipping and at least two inches wide. Tape all box seams shut; UPS suggests using three strips on the top and bottom.

Addressing your package

To be sure your package arrives at the correct location, the USPS stresses the importance of providing accurate and complete address information.

  • Include suffixes such as Ave., Blvd., and Rd., as well as locators such as NW, SE, and S.
  • Use two–letter state abbreviations such as CT for Connecticut (not Conn) or MA for Massachusetts (not Mass).
  • Don’t forget the zip code. Not sure what the destination’s zip code is? Look it up with the USPS’s zip–code finder.
  • Include your return address on the package.

Duplicate label inside

Consider placing a duplicate address label inside the package. Include your return address, the recipient’s mailing information, and a list of the package’s content. This way the shipper will be able to return or deliver your package if the outside becomes damaged or unreadable.

Special instructions

If you’re shipping fragile objects, perishables, or items that cannot be bent, print or stamp this information above the recipient’s address, below the postage, and on the back of the package. To streamline this process, consider a pre–inked stamp with the words fragile, do not bend, perishable, etc.

Let the experts handle it

If you're really pressed for time, save yourself the hassles of shipping packages. Head into your local Staples store and visit the authorized UPS Ship Center; store associates will pack your boxes and then ship them. Find a store in your area now.

Insuring your package

No matter how carefully you package your item, it may be damaged during transit. To recover potential losses, consider insuring your packages. Should a package arrive or be returned to you damaged, save the packaging as evidence for your claim. Also, save your receipt showing you purchased insurance until you know your package has arrived safely.

1Guidelines for Good Packaging, United Parcel Service

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