Tips to Avoid Shipping Glitches

December 4, 2013    |    By +
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Crushed boxes. Torn off address labels. Missing items. Deliveries sitting, forlorn, on the wrong doorstep. Gasp! No one wants that! These are the stuff of holiday gift-sending nightmares, but the good news is that most of these common shipping troubles can be easily avoided. To help you send your gifts most effectively, we got some insider’s tips from Katina Fields, the senior public relations representative for the United States Postal Service. The USPS knows their stuff; they process 1.5 billion pieces of mail between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. The highest number of packages, the USPS says, will be delivered on Thursday, Dec. 19th. Here are Fields’ suggestions:

1. Print addresses clearly.

Include all address elements, such as apartment numbers and north/south directional information. (For example, 123 S. Main St. Apt. 2B).

2. Remove batteries from toys before you send them.

If the toy came with batteries, remove them, wrap the batteries and place them next to the toys in the box.  If you are providing your own batteries with a toy, just leave the new batteries in the manufacturer’s packaging; don’t insert them into the toy before wrapping it.

3. Place a card inside the package that contain the delivery and return address. This ensures the safe return of an item that could not be delivered should the mailing label becomes damaged or fall off.

4. Never guess a ZIP Code. No ZIP is better than a wrong ZIP.

5.  Include both “to” and “from” information on packages – and only on one side of the box.

6. Do not reuse mailing boxes. They can weaken in the shipping process.

7. Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents.

8. Leave space for cushioning inside.

9. Stuff It. Fill glass and fragile, hollow items, like vases, with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage.  When mailing framed photographs, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately.

Still looking for great gifts to send your loved ones? Check out our holiday gift ideas at



Photo: alice-palace – CC BY-SA 2.0 –

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Meet the Gurus

Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.