If you are like many people, your loved ones you buy gifts for, don’t live near you and you can’t hand deliver the gifts you purchase for them.
This means that you must ship them and that can add up quite a lot over the holiday season if you are not careful.
It can eat into your shopping budget very quickly and become stressful and time consuming.
As someone who has been selling on eBay for 20 years now, I’ve come to learn the secrets to sending packages on the cheap!
Here are my tips on how to save money on holiday shipping costs to ease your mind AND…your wallet.
How to Save Money on Holiday Shipping Costs
Ship Priority Mail flat rate
The post office offers flat rate shipping for some of their priority boxes, which means one cost regardless of weight (up to 70 pounds) and you don’t have to worry about finding the right size box to put your gifts in.
Flat rate shipping also gets there in usually 2 days, and if you purchase the shipping label online, sometimes it’ll give you insurance for $50 or $100 free!
As you’re preparing your label, read the fine print. If the insurance is not there, my personal rule is that if the gift is worth more than $30, I insure it.
Another fantastic perk to shipping Priority Mail is that the USPS will come and pick up the package right at your door!
Have a stack of boxes to go out? Not a problem. Just make sure ONE of them is Priority Mail (or First Class Mail) and ALL your packages will be picked up for FREE. No waiting in lines, and that right there is HUGE!
Buy shipping labels online
You can easily go to USPS.com and print your shipping label online.
Just use a blank sheet of paper and you’re good to go.
It’s super simple and much more productive than standing in line.
If your package is not Priority Mail to qualify for free carrier pickup, and you have to go to your local post office, you do NOT have to stand in line. Walk right up to the front and place the box on the counter somewhere where the clerks can see it. You can be polite by saying something like, “this is pre-paid.” They’ll know exactly what to do.
You can also put the box in the blue receptacles if it fits. It’s much faster and much more productive than standing in those long lines to overpay!
Did you KNOW YOU’RE OVERPAYING???…for walking into any USPS retail store? Retail stores are considered either the post office or a store that has a post office counter inside.
Purchasing your shipping label online, you save an automatic 16%-25% off the post office retail prices. Online, you are automatically getting what they consider ‘wholesale’ pricing. Your savings can really add up on each package!
Be conscious of potential shipping cost when purchasing gifts
Not only should you pay attention to weight, but also watch out for extra packaging costs such as needing to use lots of bubble wrap for breakables.
Irregular shaped gifts or over-sized gifts can also cost more to ship.
If I know I’ll be shipping something to a loved one, I try to order it online and have the company ship it directly to the person. Even if I see the perfect gift that is $3 in the stores, marked down from $20, I know that it’s REALLY going to cost me $13 ($3+$10 shipping), so I take that into consideration and just purchase online most of the time.
It saves me the time of locating a box, packaging it correctly, and shipping it. Just have someone else do all that and save money while you’re at it!
Ship gifts in one package per household
This can save you money as one large package is usually cheaper than several smaller ones as long as the package is not too heavy.
Just wrap the gifts and place them in a larger box. Make sure to pack them well before you wrap so anything that is potentially breakable doesn’t shift around too much.
You will also want to insulate / bubble wrap around the gifts as well, so they don’t get knocked around too much.
You can usually find free bubble wrap in the free section on Craigslist if you watch for it all year round.
Also, be sure to save your bubble wrap during the year from the packages YOU receive. This will “cushion” (get it? lol) the blow of spending money on bubble wrap.
I NEVER pay for bubble wrap! I just save it. I keep it in my garage in plastic rolling drawers I got at a yard sale for $5!
Do site-to-store shipping
If you have a relative in another state or city that has the store you are shopping at online there, have the items shipped free with site-to-store.
This works well for sending gifts for nieces and nephews where mom can pick them up and wrap them for you.
Because you are saving on shipping, you can splurge more on the gift itself, making the receiver even more happy.
Free Shipping Day
Every single year, most online stores participate in the annual free shipping day.
Every year, the free shipping day changes, so you have to research, but it’s usually after Black Friday and before Dec 15. Somewhere in there.
Google it for the year, and do your shopping online at those stores that like, NEVER offer free shipping that you want to buy from.
This is the day, I personally buy from DisneyStore! That way I don’t have to hit their HIGH minimum to get free shipping, saving me more money!
Ship your gifts as soon as possible
Rates often go up during the holiday season and since mail slows down on delivery times as well, you might feel forced to pay extra for fast or express delivery, which can end up costing more than the gift itself!
Send off your gifts no later than the first week in December to avoid these issues.
Be on the lookout for free shipping codes online
This time of year, you can often find free shipping dates and sales for all of your favorite online shopping retailers.
Sign up for alerts from the ones you plan to shop at and be “in the know” as soon as they offer such a sale.
These sales are often very short term (like 24-48 hours) so in order to scoop them up, be ready.
You can also find free shipping codes online by simply googling the store name + free shipping.
Never use Media Mail
Many packages go missing around this time of year and even more so with Media Mail.
In order to keep folks honest, the USPS opens packages at random to see if it’s really within the guidelines of the program.
In all of my 20+ years of selling on eBay, only ONCE have I received or shipped a package that was Media Mail, having been inspected and opened, that actually reached its destination.
Add to that the fact that it takes 10-14 days and usually LONGER to reach the person, why bother?
It really doesn’t save all that money and the guidelines are so narrow. If it’s a book and has a plastic spine, it doesn’t count (that happened to me).
Really! It’s ridiculous and not worth the hassle or larger possibility of it not reaching the person.
If you DO use Media Mail, always insure the package.
Avoid damaged packages
If your package gets damaged in the mail, you’ll likely have to replace it. You can avoid that with this ONE SIMPLE TIP. Have your kids color all over the package. Use stickers, make it totally obvious this is a gift.
It has been proven that carriers are not as careful as we think they should be.
There are just too many packages and the workers are often overworked during the holidays.
Workers fully admit that if they see coloring, stickers, anything that marks the box where they know a kid is shipping it, they are much more likely to be gentler with your package.
It’s not 100% sure bet, but for the most part, in my eBay sales, I use stickers on it to make it look like a gift rather than a sale and cut off the name eBay on the label and since doing that, my packages have been arriving in much better condition. Try it!