The holiday season is a popular time for sending gifts and parcels to loved ones near and far. With Christmas right around the corner, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure your packages arrive safely and on time. This guide is created in collaboration with Maria from Parcel2go Coupons, she has experience of 2 years in parcels delivery management as her tips here today cover the best practices for hassle-free Christmas parcel shipping.
Pick the Right Shipping Carrier
Choosing the right carrier can make all the difference when it comes to Christmas parcel delivery. Here are some top couriers to consider:
- UPS: Offers domestic and international shipping with a variety of speed options. Provides tracking and allows delivery date estimates.
- FedEx: Known for fast, reliable delivery with tracking. Offers Ground, Express, and Freight options.
- USPS: Affordable shipping rates. Best for domestic packages under 70 pounds. Provides tracking on most packages.
- DHL: Great for international shipping with moderate delivery times. Offers parcel tracking and insurance.
Make sure to compare carriers by delivery times, tracking capabilities, insurance options, and costs to pick the best service for your needs.
Proper packaging is crucial to keeping gifts intact during transit. Here are some packing tips:
- Choose sturdy boxes in good condition and fill any empty spaces with packing paper or air bags. This prevents items from shifting and cushions against impacts.
- Wrap fragile items individually in bubble wrap or packing paper before placing in the box.
- Select boxes sized closely to the item(s) inside to reduce empty space. Too much room allows contents to move and possibly sustain damage.
- Use strong packing tape to securely seal all box openings and seams. Reinforce with tape wherever needed.
- Include name and addresses inside and outside packages in case outer labels fall off.
- For liquid, powder or fragile gifts, check carrier guidelines on enclosure and labeling requirements.
Don’t wait until the last minute! Holiday shipping deadlines sneak up fast. Ship by these dates for expected Christmas delivery:
USPS Retail Ground: December 15 First Class: December 17
Priority Mail: December 19 Priority Mail Express: December 23
UPS Ground: Check website for guaranteed dates 3-Day Select: December 20 2nd Day Air: December 22 Next Day Air: December 23
FedEx Home Delivery: December 15 Ground: December 15
Express Saver: December 20 2Day & 2Day AM: December 22
Check carrier websites for exact deadlines and exceptions for Alaska, Hawaii and military addresses. Ship international packages even earlier—by early December—to ensure timely customs clearance.
Lost, stolen or damaged goods can put a damper on the holidays. Protect valuable Christmas presents by purchasing carrier insurance during checkout. Common options include:
- Declared value coverage – reimburses item’s declared value if lost or damaged.
- Shipment insurance – offers tiered coverage limits for a flat fee based on total shipment value.
Save all packaging materials and shipment records if you must file an insurance claim for missing or damaged parcels.
Get Recipient Info
Verify you have the complete delivery name, address and contact info for each recipient before shipping packages. Call ahead to confirm someone will be available to receive and securely store parcels after delivery.
Provide Tracking Numbers
Once shipped, notify recipients of tracking numbers so they can proactively monitor progress. Checking tracking often allows recipients to promptly handle delivery issues due to weather delays, address problems or other exceptions. Most carriers also let recipients sign up for email and text alerts on parcel status.
Compare Costs Upfront
Anticipate holiday shipping costs by obtaining quotes ahead of time. Online shipping calculators give estimates based on details like origin, destination, package size, weight and delivery timeframe. Compare all fees across desired carriers while creating packages.
Many carriers offer discounts and promos around peak seasons. Look for coupon codes and seasonal sales to score the best shipping rates. Also ask about bundling multiple packages going to the same recipient for possible savings on batch shipments.
Before heading to the post office or drop off location, double check package weights at home to avoid surprises. Carriers base costs closely on accuracy of submitted weights. Overestimations mean overpaying while underestimations lead to hefty adjustment fees later.
Invest in a shipping scale to easily weigh packages right when packing them. Make sure total package weights align closely with weights entered during rate comparisons and final label purchases.
Inspect Box Condition
Carefully check all boxes before packing to rule out existing damage which can worsen during shipping. Look for dents, holes, water damage or corner wear and remove any old mailing labels or sticky residue. Only use sturdy boxes rated for intended parcel contents and weights.
Avoid reused grocery boxes or overly large boxes requiring heavy filler packing material to prevent contents from moving excessively. If needed, reinforce boxes with additional strong tape to better withstand shipping handling and drops.
Buy Shipping Labels in Advance
Skipping lines at crowded post office locations helps quicken holiday parcel drop offs. Purchase labels online in advance through carrier websites or integrated marketplace platforms like PayPal or eBay. Print labels directly on boxes or tape sheets of labels to packages later.
Digitally purchased labels work the same as those bought in person. Take already labeled packages to staffed counters or authorized drop off sites to bypass service queues. Some carriers even let drivers retrieve packages directly from homes or businesses through pickup requests.
Know Drop off Deadlines
Beyond shipping by recommended send-by dates, familiarize yourself with last inbound cut off times for carriers in your area. This ensures making the final express or ground shipment each day.
Missed cutoffs push packages to the next working day, potentially delaying deliveries past Christmas. Search carrier websites for drop off hour details by location and service level. Adjust according plans if early closures occur due to holidays.
Insure Fragile Gifts
In conversation with Mr Ahmed from Livingfeeds, he is too frequent traveler and writes about traveling and parcels; “I really care that delicate or highly valued presents require extra safeguarding during holiday delivery”. Inspect carrier insurance options when shipping easily broken or expensive gifts to guarantee reimbursement coverage for any transit damage or losses.
Common fragile gifts like wine, ceramics, glassware or electronics often meet insurance requirements for high value inventory due to their costly or sensitive nature. Get claims forms ready to submit if recipients note any parcel issues upon Christmastime delivery.
FAQs & Answers
Still have questions about seasonal shipping? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
How early should I ship Christmas packages? Aim to ship international packages at least 2-4 weeks before December 25 and domestic packages 1-2 weeks out. Check carrier recommended send-by dates and allow buffer time for backlogs.
Which day of the week is best for shipping? Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to be less busy for drop offs versus heavy Monday/Friday volumes. Expect all locations to peak right before seasonal deadlines.
Can I track packages once shipped? Yes, all major carriers offer tracking by reference number to follow package progress 24/7 via their websites or apps. Share tracking IDs with recipients so they can also monitor delivery status.
What do I do if a parcel gets delayed or lost? Start by checking the tracking status online and submitting an inquiry to the carrier if a package goes missing or sticks at a scan point too long. If delivery issues persist past deadlines, you can submit insurance claims or package search requests.
Following the tips in this guide will help everything go smoothly when shipping those thoughtful Christmas gifts and holiday care packages. Safe travels to all parcels and joyous tidings to receivers unwrapping them this season!