Holiday happenings

Packaging with purpose

By Evelina Ramirez

A photo of a clock in snow with the USPS logo overlayed.

Pack and ship packages early for a joyful holiday season.

The Postal Service is ready to deliver another successful holiday season.

We work hard to get cards, gifts, and packages to their destinations safely and on time. You can do your part by packaging with purpose, focusing on properly preparing items for shipping.

Selecting the right size, strength and shape of your shipping container is a key to successful mailing.

  • Step 1: Select the right box. It’s a good idea to select a box that is slightly larger than the contents.
    • When the box is too small, it can become overstuffed, forcing the box to bend, tear, or break open.
    • If the box is too big, your content can shift and move inside the box during transportation, possibly damaging your goods.
    • Also, outside stress can cause large boxes to collapse or become crushed.
  • Step 2: Packing materials provide the ideal protection for your package.
    • It’s important to reinforce the box from within. The content you place inside might provide some natural reinforcement, but you don’t want your content to bear the brunt of the load.
    • Whether you’re packing one item or many, you should stuff bubble wrap, crumpled paper or other soft, absorbent materials along the bottom, sides and top of the box.
  • Step 3: Fragile items need to be individually wrapped or stuffed.
    • Add heavier, sturdier items on the bottom and make sure the corners and sides of the box are well braced, but not overstuffed.
    • Ultimately, the shipping content plus the packing materials should fill the entire box.
    • If there are empty spaces within the box, compensate by adding more packing materials. This is especially important when shipping books.
    • You’re also encouraged to include the “to” and “from” information on a card on the inside of the box, in the unlikely case the box gets damaged or the label falls off.
  • Step 4: Reinforce the box from the outside, by properly closing the box and adding packing tape — not string or ribbon — along the folds and edges.
    • You’ll want to especially reinforce the bottom so heavy items don’t fall through.
    • When adding tape, be careful not to mask any labels.
  • If reusing boxes, be sure old labels are covered or removed.

The Postal Service is also reminding customers that metallic mercury and devices containing metallic mercury are always prohibited in the mail stream. This includes antique items such as thermometers, barometers, blood pressure monitors and similar devices.

To make sure your box is labeled and addressed properly, check out our “Naughty & Nice Guide to Addressing Packages” article next.