The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for mail service. Following are packing and shipping tips to ensure that holiday packages arrive on time and intact.

Make sure the box is the right size.

Choose a sturdy, corrugated box big enough to allow for adequate cushioning and packing material. A good rule of thumb is to allow three inches on all sides of the items being packed, including the bottom and the top.

Provide protection for the contents.

Wrap each item separately in bubble pack or newsprint and tape the cushioning material securely around the object. Place items in the center of the box, and fill the remaining space with packing material.

Close box securely, using strong tape.

Make sure to use tape that is Postal Service-approved. Seal all flaps with tape that is at least two inches wide and be sure to tape across the length of the box, and seal the end seams. If extra reinforcement is necessary, wrap strapping tape around the girth of the package a few times. Do not use string or wrap packages with paper. These can get caught in conveyor belts or ripped in handling.

Properly label all packages.

Select a label that clearly designates whom the package is "TO" and "FROM." Place a duplicate label inside the package for security. Fill out the label using a permanent-ink marker and place clear tape over the label for extra protection. Also:
  • Make sure the information is written clearly enough to be read from approximately two feet away. And when sending a package to a post-office box or rural-route destination, include the recipient's phone number to ensure proper delivery.
  • Place the delivery label on top of the package and avoid placing it on a seam.
  • When necessary, include special labels indicating a "Rush" delivery or "Fragile" package. Be sure to include sturdy protective material in packages or envelopes marked "Do Not Bend."