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Box gifts with care for holiday shipping

It's thrilling to get a package in the mail, but not so great if the box looks as though it has been through the mulcher. Here are ways to make sure your holiday gifts get to their destinations in one piece. Washington Post

The box. Use a sturdy corrugated cardboard box that can handle being tossed about and is large enough to hold gifts plus packaging materials. Also, avoid exceeding the box's weight limit. It's okay to reuse boxes, says Sharon Tennison, a U.S. Postal Service district communications spokeswoman. Just make sure they're in good condition, and remove or cover old labels with heavy black marker. Use 2-inch-wide clear or brown packaging tape to secure the box.

Packaging. Place contents in the middle of the box and surround them with a couple of inches of packing material. Often people underestimate how much packaging to include, says UPS spokesman Malcolm Berkley, but you want to minimize empty space so contents don't move around. If you're sending multiple items, wrap each one in bubble wrap. It's also helpful to nest like items such as bowls, says FedEx packing lab manager Jay Gillman, with bubble wrap, an old sheet or a towel in between.

Baked goods. Sturdier treats such as sugar cookies and biscotti ship better, Gillman says. If your package will traverse multiple temperature zones, it's best not to send foods that can melt. Use the fastest method of delivery so goodies arrive fresh. For packaging, Gillman advises putting baked goods in a container with a lid, layering items between sheets of wax paper and filling the container's empty spaces with crumpled wax paper or paper towels. Then fasten the lid with packing tape and place the whole thing in a cardboard box with cushioning around it. If you're sending soft treats such as pies, freeze them first, he suggests. Then package and freeze the entire box, if possible, before shipping.

Military care packages. These can be sent via the Postal Service. Sites such as Anysoldier.com and Soldiersangels.com can help. Basic necessities servicemen and servicewomen request include socks, toiletries, bug repellent, nonperishable foods, books and pads of paper.

Delivery deadlines

For delivery

by Dec. 25,

send cards

and packages

by these dates:

U.S. Postal

Service

First-class

and priority mail: Dec. 21

Express mail: Dec. 23

FedEx

(domestic)

Ground: Dec. 17

Overnight:

Dec. 23

UPS

Ground: Varies by ZIP code; check www.ups.com.

Next-day air: Dec. 23

Sources: U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS

Box gifts with care for holiday shipping 12/14/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 14, 2009 5:18pm]
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