Now that you’ve finished making the perfect holiday gift for your long-distance loved one, there’s only one question: How do you get it to them? Navigating the realm of shipping labels and packaging can feel overwhelming, but with the right know-how you can ship your handmade gifts totally hassle-free.
1. Keep Clothing Neat
The last thing you want is for your recipient to unbox their gift and find it covered in deep wrinkles. After all, “Merry Christmas” doesn’t quite have the same effect when it’s followed by, “I hope you like ironing!”
To help prevent crumples from settling into your hot-off-the-sewing-machine dress or shirt , fold your clothing neatly — like it’s on display at a retail store — or roll it, says Elaine Lipson, Craftsy’s in-house sewing and embroidery expert. Use a roomy box so it’s not smushed down, and be sure to include a filler like tissue paper to prevent your presents from sliding around.
2. Use the Roll Method for Quilts
While some smaller-scale quilting projects, like home decor items, can be mailed in a standard box or even a large envelope, packaging a bigger piece can be tricky. Which is why we present two options: packing down your quilt into a large, sturdy box, or using the roll method.
The first is pretty self-explanatory, and the second is simple: place the quilt face-down, lay tissue paper on top and start rolling the quilt together (it might help to use a foam noodle). Once rolled, wrap the outside in more tissue and ship it using a mailer tube to keep your quilt from becoming creased or damaged on its journey.
3. Know the Food Rules
Whether you’re sending cookies, brownies or cakes, there are some general tips to keep in mind when shipping baked goods. You should avoid sending anything with nuts, for instance, while dried sweets (like meringues) do best in transit. Even mailing jams or sauces can be done with no hassle.
But if you’re looking to ship alcohol like, say, homemade limoncello, things get a little complicated. The United States Postal Service (USPS) won’t ship any alcoholic beverages, and FedEx only allows licensed alcohol shippers — not consumers — to mail booze. UPS has a similar rule against consumer shipments, and the rules in general vary state by state. So if you want to ship alcohol and aren’t sure what the rules and regulations are for your area, it’s best to call a nearby shipping location and ask.
4. Include Care Instructions
It’s always, always a good idea to include care instructions with handmade pieces, especially if you’re gifting a handknit sweater or other knitwear garment. Otherwise, your recipient might wear it once then accidentally shrink it, turning it into a sweater fit for their chihuahua.
Which is where care cards come in, says Stephanie White, Craftsy’s resident knit and crochet expert. Use ’em to note if anything you made is hand wash only or needs to lay flat to dry. For knits, it’s a good idea to include information about mothproofing as well.
5. Sandwich Your Artwork
How you ship your artwork depends on whether your piece is framed or unframed. If unframed, Craftsy’s art expert Anna Ghublikian suggests using glassine paper (acid-free paper that resists grease and moisture), plastic wrap, foam or cardboard to protect the surface. She also recommends backing your art with something sturdy, like another piece of cardboard, to keep it from bending and folding.
For framed pieces, you’ll want to use cardboard corner protectors, as corners may be the area most susceptible to damage during shipping. Then, sandwich your frame between pieces of foam and cardboard to add a protective barrier on either side. If you can, Ghublikian suggests finding a box that allows for 6″ to 8″ of space on all sides between the framed piece and the box — you can fill this space with more protective layering, like bubble wrap or pieces of cardboard, for extra cushion.
For large artwork (we’re talking 5′ x 9′ The Birth of Venus big), ditch the box and ship it in a well-padded wooden crate, Ghublikian says.
6. Pre-Wash Before Packaging
It’s a good idea to pre-wash any fabrics you’re working with yourself, says Linda Perman, Craftsy’s quilting expert and instructor. That way you can fix anything funky (like fabric bleeds in a quilt) before it’s handed off to someone who may not be well-versed in the craft. (You also don’t want your family member to think they ruined the gorgeous quilt you made them if it shrinks a bit during that first wash!)
7. Always Protect Against Moisture
If you’re mailing a single garment, use a poly mailer. They’re not very pretty, but they keep your package free of water and humidity. When shipping your gift in a box, use some sort of plastic wrap to keep the interior safe from rain, like a large plastic bag or bubble wrap, White says.
8. Dress Up Your Package
You don’t have to do anything crazy fancy, but there are little touches you can add that will make grabbing the mail truly feel like opening a gift. Wrapping your knit hat in tissue paper, for example, is much better than using a plain filler like newspaper. And washi tape is more fun than regular scotch tape. You can even include a handmade card in a pretty (and reusable!) fabric envelope for that extra special touch.
9. Do Your Research Before Sending
Once your gift is boxed, you have a ton of shipping options at your disposal. The best way to send your package depends on a) its size, b) its weight and c) how quickly you want it to arrive. USPS offers flat rate shipping envelopes and boxes up to a 12″ x 12″ x 6″ maximum size. For anything larger, you can turn to USPS retail ground shipping. Just keep in mind that the heavier the package, the more expensive it’ll be to send.
Don’t forget to consider your timing, either. USPS Priority Mail delivers packages in one to three business days and is the best bang for your buck. If you needed your shipment to be delivered, like, yesterday, you can overnight it using Priority Mail Express. FedEx and UPS also have multiple delivery methods to choose from, and online interactive tools to help you calculate cost before committing.