Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cardmaker Tips: Packaging

We posted a video on Facebook that you can view--- here --- (you don't need to be a Facebook member to view it.)

First, the difference between Flat Rate and Priority shipping:
  • Flat Rate is one price for the package, no matter the weight or distance. The boxes (referred to as FRBs through the rest of this post) and envelopes (FREs) are FREE at the Post Office; you can also order them in large quantities to be delivered to your home for free. 
  • Priority mail is different, though FRBs and FREs do ship priority speed-wise. These are priced based on weight and distance. Note that the P.O. has boxes that look similar to the Flat Rate packaging but it is NOT flat rate; these packaging options cost you money, so take that into account when weighing options.

If you're mailing a Flat Rate package (box or envelope), it can go to any shipper for the same price; though we do recommend you send it to the one closest to you, since that will get it there quickest. We always recommend Priority packages going to the closest shipper because that will save you the most money! ETA: If you use the taller thinner medium box, be sure the rows of cards will not slide down the box and rip embellishments off each other—we've had a lot of boxes with this trouble lately!

Test it out: If you want to mail a bubble envelope or regular manila envelope, take it to the Post Office—have an extra label handy, and if they weigh your package and it's cheaper to go flat rate, you can just pop it into one of their free packaging options and slap the new label on. NOTE: If it might have to go into a box, take packing tape with you, most POs won't supply that and you'll have to buy one of their rolls!) Once you've sent packages of varying sizes, you'll get a better feel for what kind of packaging is best for the quantity of cards you're mailing.

Other packaging tips:

  1. Give it a tuck. If your cards are marked with our name on the back and you're sending envelopes,  you can help your shipper by tucking the back of the card all the way inside the envelope and letting the front hang out, as shown.
  2. Unstamped? Save yourself some effort. If your cards are not marked on the back and you're sending envelopes, put the cards in the box separate from the envelopes; we have to take them out of envelopes to stamp the backs anyway, so matching them up is labor you can avoid.
  3. Aim to ship early for holiday deadlines! We hope our "regulars" will help us out by not waiting til the last day to ship cards. For a few reasons:
    : the earlier we can start shipping boxes, the more likely our heroes can get their holiday cards home on time. Sometimes mail out takes 3-6 weeks (see this post on the Hero Blog), so even when we assume 2 weeks over and 2 weeks back, that's cutting it awfully close. Our posted deadlines are really the LAST dates to squeak under the wire, so try to be early!
    it leaves our shippers time to process mail. If everyone waits til the end, we have very very tired shippers up late sorting and packing cards.
    it allows us time to coordinate addresses better — sometimes one shipper will cover a contact for another when we have the cards earlier and know what's coming up.
  4. Include a packing slip. It doesn't have to be our packing slip pdf (you can write it on a piece of paper instead), but it helps SO much to have your contact info and the quantity of cards written down. Our shippers often sort cards with children and animals running around, and counting lots of boxes can be a challenge in the midst of chaos!
  5. Tape it up. The adhesive that comes on some FRBs and FREs isn't always the most stable, especially on the little $4.95 box. Please use some tape on those! But don't overdo it; postal regulations say that if your package wouldn't close on its own with the supplied adhesive, it's overfull and they'll bump you to priority pricing. All flaps should fully close, and your tape should just be a little extra to strengthen it. The box or envelope shouldn't be so full that the provided adhesive wouldn't even meet up and has to be forced closed with tape.
  6. Sort, but leave them unbagged. Some of you love to sort your cards, and we appreciate it! You don't need to band or bag them unless that's helpful on your end; just stacking them in the boxes by themes is great for us. Paper dividers work great! (See photo below)
  7. Segregate your peanuts. Styrofoam packing peanuts are cursed with static cling, in the cold temps especially; if you want to fill empty spaces with peanuts, put them in a bag so the shipper doesn't end up looking like a snowball when opening your box. (And she won't have to vacuum them off the cards!)
  8. Save the glitter for grandma's birthday. We still receive cards with a lot of loose glitter.... One of our shippers had to vacuum out an entire box of cards (and herself) to clean up glitter that contaminated a whole box full of otherwise beautiful cards. 
Thanks for all you do to make our shippers' jobs easier...we appreciate you all!


    Dixie Cochran said...

    Wow. Terrific post, Sandy! Great tips, and I too appreciate all the card makers and their efforts to make our jobs a little easier. Most of all, I'm thankful for the beautiful cards that arrive daily! I am always inspired by the cards I get.

    Shipper Dixie

    (Oh, my. My word to type to post this is "Sortless." How funny is that?)

    scrapper al said...

    Thank you for the very clear instructions. All are good reminders. Just one question, if I don't have an Operation Write Home stamp, can I put a small label on the back of the card that says "operationwritehome.org" or should the label say something more? Can I say something like "created by xxx for operationwritehome.org"?

    Operation Write Home said...

    Labels are totally fine - some people print it (from their computer) on their cardstock before making the card too.

    The stamps are available from 2 companies, if you want one:

    SuzAnn said...

    very helpful reminders, thanks for posting them.

    Anonymous said...

    You explained this well Sandy! Thank you from one of those tired shippers. Last week was a crazy week with over 75 packages and at least half of them were big boxes. Not complaining but when trying to get Valentine's Day cards out...it was sorta crazy in my house.

    Shipper Kris

    AK Donna M said...

    Thank you for this info. Our group is fairly new to OWH and we want to make your job easier.

    Ramona said...

    Thank you for info.

    Seongsook Duncan said...

    Thanks for this very clear packing tips. I tried many different ways however, the paper divider must be the best. Thanks for all your efforts.

    Martha said...

    Thanks Sandy! Now I can tuck with the best of them, lol.