Can’t hand over your Christmas presents in person? No problem, here’s how to send them safely in the post in time for the big day…
Santa’s not the only one you can rely on to deliver gifts on time this Christmas. So long as you do a little planning and stick to the rules, your presents will arrive on time and in one piece this year. Just follow these easy tips for packaging them up and sending them properly.
Skip the Post Office queues, send by courier
Before you choose your courier, you’ll need to check their Christmas delivery dates, their size and weight restrictions, as well as their list of restricted items. Some couriers won’t deliver fragrances or expensive jewellery, certain electronics and glass items. If you’d planned to send something they won’t deliver, you may want to ask the retailer to deliver straight to your lucky recipient instead.
Know your delivery deadlines
Make no mistake, it’s best to send your presents as early as possible. But if you’re a last minute gift giver, here are your guidelines for UK delivery…
- Send by Wednesday 21st December 2016 and they’ll deliver it by Christmas Day – or they’ll refund your delivery charge.
- Wednesday 23rd December 2016 for express delivery by Christmas Eve on Thursday 24th December 2016.
- Friday 18th December 2016 for 72hr service.
- Monday 21st December 2016 for two-day service.
- Tuesday 22th December 2016 for next-day delivery.
- Send it no later than Thursday 22nd December 2016 for next-day services.
- Wednesday 21st December 2016 for two-day service.
Pick the right packaging
Whatever you’re posting, send it in a box that’s slightly bigger than your presents – you’re aiming to surround each item in 5cm of protection. Tuck your special cards or flat gifts into a large, cardboard-backed envelope. Otherwise, pick a box that’s lightweight and rigid.
Reusing an old box?
Recycling is good, but you need to check your second-hand box is up to scratch. Is your box still rigid? Does it have any rips or holes, especially in the corners? If it’s too battered or you’re not sure whether it can survive another trip, don’t risk repairing it – it’s safer to get a new box. But if you’re going to use it, cover up all the old addresses.
Get festive on the inside, not outside
Tinsel, bows, strings and ribbons will make your parcel look festive, but it’s risky business, as decorations can get caught up when your parcel is being processed. So get creative and give your present the wow-factor, but place it in a larger, plain and strong cardboard box.
Pack your most fragile present in the middle of your box
Surround it in at least 5cm of protective padding, whether you use scrunched up newspaper or wrapping paper, bubble wrap, corrugated card, packing peanuts or foam wrap. The more you squeeze in, the safer your presents will be when they’re travelling.
You can’t really rely on ‘fragile’ stickers to keep your presents safe, because the sorting machines can’t use them. So use plenty of padding and make sure your presents don’t rattle when you shake your box.
Wrap presents individually
Sending more than one present? Generous gift givers will want to wrap everything individually, in bubble wrap or scrunched up newspaper. Keep them away from the corners of your box and use cardboard dividers to keep everything separated. That way, they shouldn’t bang into each other.
Seal it up
Masking tape, cellotape and duct tape don’t work as well as strong parcel tape – find the widest variety you can and wrap it completely around the parcel, both lengthways and widthways. Every flap and opening needs sealing properly.
Make the address obvious
Are all your barcodes clearly visible? Have you checked their address and written your own return address? One of the biggest problems couriers face is not being able to read your postal address, so make it easy. If you’re handwriting it, use a black permanent marker – and cover it in clear cellotape, so that its waterproof and the writing won’t bleed if it gets damp.
Pay the right amount of postage
Underpaying postage could send your presents to a postal depo, not where it needs to be. When your package is ready to send, weigh it on electronic kitchen scales and double check that it’s within your courier’s size and weight limits.
Do you need compensation cover?
How valuable are your presents? You may want to check what cover your courier provides, if you’re sending fragile items a long way. Sometimes the basic insurance won’t cover the cost to replace your presents, but you can pay extra.
If you use the Royal Mail’s Special Delivery to send something in the UK, you’re automatically covered up to £500. But beware, Royal Mail and Parcelforce won’t pay out for broken china in any circumstances – so check what’s included.