Getting gifts ready for shipping to out-of-town family and friends

December 17, 1993|By McClatchy News Service

With Christmas Eve just a week away, you're probably on your way to frantic right now if you have to mail presents out of town. To make things easier, here are some mailing tips from the U.S. Post Office:

Choosing the right box:

* Fiberboard boxes are the least expensive and you can usually get them free at grocery stores or package stores. Other acceptable containers are padded envelopes, paperboard boxes, metal cans and tubes, and wooden boxes.

* The container should be large enough to hold the contents plus adequate cushioning to prevent damage, but not so large as to permit shifting.

* Liquid should be in double, leak-proof containers.

Wrapping and sealing

* When several items are packaged in the same container, they should be separated from each other, as well as protected from outside forces.

* Heavy items should be securely braced.

* Cushioning materials include polystyrene (packing peanuts), shredded or rolled newspaper, "bubble" plastic and fiberboard inserts.

* The post office prefers that you not use wrapping paper if the box is adequate.

* Use tape (strapping tape, not cellophane or masking tapes) rather than twine or glue. Twine is permitted, but it does tend to catch in mail processing equipment.

Marking the box

* Clearly mark the package with the address, including zip code, of both the sender and the receiver.

* Use indelible ink or typed label.

* Include a list of the contents plus the name and address of the sender and the recipient inside.

* If the item you're shipping is breakable or perishable, mark the box "fragile" in three places: above the address, below the postage and on reverse side.

Things you can't mail

* Poison, including poisonous animals, most poisonous insects, all poisonous reptiles

* Snakes

* Disease germs

* Explosives or flammable materials. There are strong restrictions on mailing of radioactive materials, firearms, knives, sharp instruments and controlled substances.

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