Tips For Shipping Gifts At Last Minute

This is the busiest week of the year for shipping packaged, as people purchase holiday gifts and send them off to friends and family.

For some tips on getting last-minute packages through on-time and in one piece, The Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen spoke to Li Gardiner at the United Parcel Service shipping center in Manhattan.

UPS will transport more than 100 million packages this week alone.

Among Gardiner's pointers:

  • Never reuse old boxes: They lose half their strength after being used, and can collapse in shipping. Always use brand new cardboard boxes.
  • Wrap fragile gifts in bubble wrap, and even non-fragile items, such as clothes, should be put in plastic bags to protect them should rain or snow leak into the box.
  • It's not a good idea to use newspaper to pack gifts. Newpapers or other paper will compress during shipping. Only use Styrofoam peanuts; they offer a pillow-like cushion for items.
  • Place gifts right in the middle of boxes, and make sure you pack items at least three inches from each side of the box. Fill the box up with peanuts so high, it's hard to close the top, and seal your packages only with packaging tape: Masking or scotch tape will likely come loose in shipping.
  • Put an extra address label inside the box. That way, if the outside label is damaged due to bad weather, the deliveryman can find the address inside.
  • When is the best time to come to the shipping store? This week will be extra busy, so avoid rush hour in the mornings and evenings — and lunchtime. The quietest times are around 10a.m. or 3 p.m., or after 6 p.m.; many stores will be staying open late this week.
  • The closer it gets to Christmas, the busier it gets, so don't wait: Ship now. If you want your packages to arrive before Christmas day, by Saturday, you'd have to ship by this Friday, but it'll cost you a premium. It's better to ship on Tuesday or Wednesday to guarantee your gifts will get there on time.