Proper packing and shipping tips to ensure the safety of your holiday gifts

ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI)-- Once you drop off that package for shipping, you lose control of when and where it shows up as well as the condition it's in when it arrives. Our advice? Control what you can.

  1. Choose the right size box. Aim for 2 inches of space between your item and the box in every direction. Boxes smaller than that may not protect your item well, and bigger boxes may cost more to ship.
  2. Use new boxes. A box can lose up to 50 percent of its strength after one shipping trip, risking damage to its contents.
  3. Pack breakables tightly. If you're shipping, say, cookies or coffee mugs, pack them together as tightly as possible. First, protect each item individually, then bundle them together as a single unit so they aren't moving around inside your box.
  4. Contain contents. Empty space inside your box leaves room for bouncing around. Put loose fill on the bottom of your box, add your item and surround the sides and top with loose fill. To keep your product even more secure, put fill in the bottom of the box, add a sheet of corrugated cardboard, then put your item on top of that.
  5. Protect perishables. If your items are sensitive to heat, cold or humidity, pack them to withstand the elements. Ice packs, dry ice, Styrofoam sheets and silica gel packets can help your perishables stay fresh. Find out more about using dry ice.
  6. Choose the right fill. Soy-based peanuts, wadded paper and shredded corrugated cardboard are good options. Steer clear of newspaper – it doesn't give much support.
  7. Remove old labels. Extra labels on the package could increase the odds that the package is missorted.
  8. Place the label on top of the box. Avoid placing it across a seam, which can sometimes shift and tear a label.
  9. Tape the box the right way. UPS recommends taping the center seam and then the two side seams, so the strips of tape form an "H." Use the same method on the top and the bottom of the box. The H-style method helps keep your box aligned and maximizes its strength. Run your tape the full length of the seams to help prevent the flaps from popping out.
  10. Use the right tape. Use 2- or 3-inch-wide pressure-sensitive plastic or nylon-reinforced tape. Leave the duct tape and masking tape for home-improvement projects.

Shipping deadlines: Plan ahead and add these shipping deadlines to the calendar so all gifts arrive just as the sleigh bells are ringing.

  • For domestic delivery for Christmas by Friday, December 23, ship:
  • UPS Next Day Air® by Thursday, December 22
  • UPS 2nd Day Air® by Wednesday, December 21
  • UPS 3 Day Select® by Monday, December 19
  • For domestic delivery by Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, ship:
  • UPS 2 Day Air ® on Thursday, December 22
  • UPS Next Day Air ® on Friday, December 23

Package security

The holidays are a busy time and many consumers are not home to accept online purchases or gifts. The UPS Store provides easy options for secure delivery.

  • The UPS Store mailbox service: Items are kept safe until consumers are ready to pick them up.
  • UPS My Choice: Consumers can reroute packages already in transit to their UPS Store by signing up for UPS My Choice AND get a text or email when the package is ready for pick-up.