Here are some tips from Amanda McMullen, the manager and co-owner of the Postal Annex in Scotts Valley, to make sure nothing unexpected happens to your package.
**Use proper filler. When packaging, use adequate cushioning for what’s inside, such as bubble wrap or packing peanuts to fill any empty spaces in the box. McMullen recommends against air packs, because they can deflate, leaving the package vulnerable to being crunched.
**Choose the right box. Make sure it is thick enough and big enough to allow for proper cushioning. McMullen leaves 2 inches on each side of the contents for packing peanuts or other cushioning. Don’t rely on “Fragile” labels, because they can easily be ignored or missed during shipping.
**Seal with clear packing tape. Tape a package in an “H” pattern, with pieces of tape along the sides and top of the box. Duct tape is not a good option, because the heat inside delivery trucks can cause it to peel back.
**Label well. Make sure the outside label is readable and attached to the package. “I like to put an extra piece of tape over the label during the holidays,” McMullen said. Also put the receiving address on a card inside the box, in case the outside label does come off.
**No brown paper. Despite the musical endorsement of that seasonal favorite, “My Favorite Things,” it’s best to avoid wrapping boxes in either brown paper or string. As packages move along conveyer belts, the wrapping might tear off.
**Consider letting the pros do it. Postal Annex offers to wrap and ship packages and take care of any claims, if necessary.
**Insure expensive packages. Through the Postal Annex, insurance is $4 for packages worth up to $300 and $7 for those worth up to $500.
**Don’t ship alcohol. Not only is it illegal without a special license, but a package carrying liquor can be destroyed in some states if it’s discovered. “It’s something not many people know about,” McMullen said, “and (alcohol) is a big part of holiday baskets.”
**Meet deadlines for Christmas arrivals. Ground packages must be mailed by Dec. 17 for delivery on Christmas Eve, and for UPS third-day air, the deadline is Dec. 21. UPS Next-Day Air can accept packages until Dec. 23 for delivery the following day.