MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - More than 16 billion cards, letters, parcels and packages are expected to be delivered this holiday season.
If you don't plan ahead and get those presents shipped off soon, they might not make it under the tree on time. "Well I shopped early. And I decided to ship early to beat the rush, says Linda Lowe. Lowe is trying to get all of her Christmas cards and presents to friends and family by Christmas Day.
Wednesday is the last day the post office recommends senders make an international shipment, in order for it to arrive on time. But at this point, to make that guarantee, you'll have to pay priority shipping. For example, if you're shipping a medium-sized box to England, that could cost you around $80. A small box could cost around $25.
Monday is the deadline for domestic standard post, which is the slowest way to send a package on a ground truck in the US. Each day after Monday, bank on paying premium prices for shipping. Wait until December 23, and expect to possibly pay more for overnight shipping than the value of the gift.
Lowe was hoping to ship a fragile gift to her sister. But decided to reconsider when seeing the cost. "This is a present that I don't normally exchange. And I will be seeing my sister soon. So I may very well just give her the package rather than mailing it. Since the expense is great," said Lowe.
And as you get closer to Christmas Day, you might want to consider using Fed Ex, DHL, or UPS instead of the post office. You might pay a little more, but you also might have faster service and a better guarantee on timing.
Frank Espinal, the owner of a local shipping store called Ship on Site, says volume has doubled since this time last year. And they're only expecting things to get busier in the next two weeks.
The biggest piece of advice is to ship early and save. And you have to be smart with how you pack your boxes. For instance, avoid at all costs, shipping a box any bigger than three cubic feet. Once you start packing boxes any bigger than 18x18x18, you're paying on a different scale. So it wouldn't matter if you had 2 pounds of presents in the box or 40 pounds of presents in the box, you would still pay a high flat rate.
Instead of using one big box, it might be cheaper to send two medium boxes to the same place. Also, if you pack the items and use your own bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or newspaper for padding, that will save you money instead of paying to have the store or post office pack it up for you.
"If you're coming in with loose items, then it's important to let us know if these items are fragile or not. Because there's a certain way that we need to package them in order for them to arrive safely," says Espinal. Also, be sure to have the addresses ready, that'll help speed things along in the store. And know how much the gift is worth, they'll use that value to insure it if you want.
If you're trying to save as much money as possible, it might actually work against you by cutting too many corners when it comes to shipping those Christmas presents. Here is a secret of the shipping trade that you might not know about. Espinal says if you're reusing an old box to mail your presents, if anything is damaged during shipping, it may not actually be covered. Even if you insure what's in the package, if it's damaged upon arrival and you used an old, already-used box, the shipper might argue it was your fault and it was packaged incorrectly. So paying for the new box and bubble wrap at the store or post office could seem like a hassle, but it may be worth it in the long run, especially if the gifts inside are expensive or fragile.