Holiday Gift Guide

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'Tis the season for shipping gifts

Travel is a staple of the holiday season. Many men and women find themselves spending a significant amount of time in the air or on the road, whether traveling to visit family or embarking on a holiday getaway.

For those who must fly to their holiday destinations, travel can present certain obstacles, as baggage restrictions and fees have made it more difficult and more expensive to travel with gifts in tow. But savvy holiday shoppers need not worry about fitting all of those gifts into their overstuffed luggage. Shipping gifts is a far more convenient way to get all those precious presents from point A to point B, and it saves travelers money on airline baggage fees. When shipping gifts this holiday season, consider the following tips.

* Use the right box. Boxes come in all shapes and sizes, and there are packing methods to ensure gifts arrive intact. The gift should not have much wiggle room inside the box, as the more the gift can move around the more likely it is to break. Gently shake the box before closing it, adding any padding if the gift is moving around too much, otherwise move the gift to a smaller box. A box also should not be too small, as it may break before reaching its destination.

* Wrap each individual item. When shipping holiday gifts, it's often most convenient to include several items in one large box. When doing so, wrap each item separately in air-filled wrapping or newspaper. This reduces the risk of items breaking during shipping.

* Line the interior of the box with a garbage bag. A garbage bag lining along the inside of the box can help to prevent potential water damage from rain, snow or other leaky packages.

* Tightly tape the box. Once items are inside the box, be sure to use professional packing tape. Though there are cheaper alternatives available, professional packing tape is far more likely to hold up as the item travels from your home to its ultimate destination. Low quality tape could split or tear, resulting in a situation where boxes break open and items fall out.

* Pay attention when reusing boxes. Reusing boxes is a great way to benefit the environment when shipping holiday gifts, but carefully examine the box before shipping it. Old labels and bar codes should be removed so packages ultimately end up in the correct destination. In addition, check any boxes for wear and tear before reusing them. Avoid using any boxes with previous water damage or tears.

* Double check addresses. Before shipping items, double check the address, making sure the name, address and ZIP code are correct. Confirm the information with the recipient as well. Be sure to write the address and full ZIP code in the method the shipping company requires to ensure prompt delivery.

* Include an extra mailing label inside the box. Inclement weather is common come the holiday season, and some packages may fall victim to the elements. In such situations, shipping labels can be compromised, and some shipping companies have admitted they will open the box to look for a backup label if the exterior label has been soiled. Include an extra mailing label inside the box as a backup plan.