Many of us have family and friends that live in another state.  So when we want to shower our loved ones with gifts, we forget about the cost of shipping that gift.  In many cases, you could spend as much or more on shipping costs than you spent on the gift. With a little planning, we can cut our shipping costs using these services only when we have to.   Knowing that a gift has to be shipped will determine the gift I choose. If I have a choice between a beautiful vase and a beautiful piece of jewelry, I will choose the jewelry. The vase would need to be wrapped carefully and placed in a larger box for protection so as to arrive in one piece.  Whereas a piece of jewelry would be much less expensive to ship.ship-2random%

When preparing a package to mail, weigh and measure it, then check online to see who can send the package the cheapest. The Post Office, FedEx, and UPS all have websites that will help you determine the cost of shipping your package.   The post office offers a flat rate (both within the United States and International) for priority mail using four different sized boxes with different rates, and the boxes are free. If your gift fits, it ships for that flat rate regardless of the weight. Just be sure it wouldn’t be cheaper to ship in a smaller box. You can pick up all four sizes at your local post office or order online and have them shipped to your home at no cost to you.

Don’t rule out purchasing boxes and services online.  In many cases, it will be cheaper and more convenient–just drop it on your doorstep and they pickup!  They will ask that you sign in with a username and password.  No more standing in long lines!


Another consideration is insurance.  Many times you can ship with the insurance included.  For example, I like to ship first class through the Post Office knowing they pay for insurance (usually up to $50) and includes tracking.  Make sure you ask.

Another way to save money in shipping costs is to deliver the gifts during a visit. I am fortunate to be able to visit my family June or July each year as well as every other Christmas. So, during my summer visit I plan ahead by shopping early for gifts and bring them with me or shop while I am there. Not only does it save money in shipping costs, but I love crossing things off my “to do list” early in the year.

Last year I was not as organized as usual, so when I mailed my Mother’s birthday gift, I tucked inside the box some items for the rest of the family and let my Mother hand deliver them for me. It is cheaper to mail as much as possible in one box than several smaller ones.

If you have many people to shop for out of state, consider using gift certificates which can easily be mailed in an envelope for the price of a stamp. Also, consider items like magazines with a yearly subscription or books which can be mailed in envelopes via media mail which is one of the cheaper ways to mail like items.

Many of the online stores will ship a package directly to the recipient of the gift and bill you directly (called bill to, ship to).  Don’t forget to ask if they gift wrap and include a card.

I hope this will help you save a little or maybe a lot in shipping costs. Please share any suggestions you may have.