When mailing Christmas gifts, proper packaging is vital to guard against damage. The U.S. Postal Service offers the following tips on how to prepare holiday packages for safe mailing.
Use an adequate container such as corrugated or solid fiberboards, craft board, chip board (for small items), metal cans, tubes or boxes, wooden boxes or crates, fiber mailing tubes with metal ends or sturdy envelopes.
For average parcels, fiberboard containers (common boxes from the home or store) are generally adequate. An "average" parcel is defined as one with dimensions that do not exceed 34 inches x 17 inches x 17 inches and that weighs 25 pounds or less.
If you are mailing high-density items such as hardware or automotive parts you must use a stronger box. High-density items are defined as those exceeding 15 pounds per square foot.
Use filament or other reinforced tape instead of string to secure the package. Although twine and cord are permitted, they tend to catch and bind in mail-processing equipment.
Cushion the contents, especially if several items are packed together. Suitable cushioning materials include polystyrene, shredded or rolled newspaper, "bubble" plastic and fiberboard inserts.
Wrapping paper may be omitted if the box itself is an adequate shipping container. Otherwise, use wrapping paper equivalent to the strength of a large grocery bag.
Mark the parcel clearly with addresses of both sender and receiver. Use indelible ink or type the address on a label. It should be easily readable at arm's length.
Place a list of contents plus names of sender and receiver inside the parcel in case the outside address becomes illegible.
Parcels containing breakables should be marked "Fragile" in three places: above the address, below the postage and on the reverse side. Packages containing foods or other items that may decay should be marked "Perishable" in the same places
If mailing photographs, insert a stiffening material such as fiberboard and mark the parcel "Do Not Bend."
Liquids should be sent in leak-proof interior and exterior containers. Powders should be packaged in sift-proof containers. Items that have an odor should be placed in a container that is impermeable to the contents.
Batteries should be removed from toys. An accidently activated toy can make "suspicious" sounds such as ticking that could result in the bomb squad's being called in to investigate.
Source: U.S. Postal Service