Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Packing and Shipping for the Frugal Crafter!

I do loads of swaps and love to include my international buddies. Shipping cost have gone up so much lately that I JUST had to find a way to be able to continue swapping with them and still eat! Although I spent over $90 in postage last month - the goodies, smiles and friendships I received made it TOTALLY worth it. Of course as a plus I do get to exercise my creative muscles, AND my husband is making friends at the Post Office! LOL

This morning I had to send off a destash item to a new friend in the UK. First thing I do before selling is to look into shipping costs. I use my little postage meter and stamps.com® software from USPS.  I am able to print out ALL my labels, add insurance plus get free tracking information.  (No, I don't work for them but my father was a postmaster.)

I found out that the cheapest way to send swaps international is as a large envelope . 
The question I always have is - when is my item considered an envelope, and when is it a package?  I went over to USPS to do some research. I created a little cheat sheet with the answers I found.  You can download it for yourself:

For those of you without the software you can calculate shipping costs at http://postcalc.usps.com.

Okay, according to my cheat sheet a large envelope has to be between 1/4" and 3/4" thick, maximum. So, how can I manage that?

The Graham Tartan
I am always trying to find the cheapest way to get things done. I've been told it's my Scottish genes that cause me to do this. 
Hmmm...I think that might have been an insult, but since it was my sister who told me I can overlook it!)

So I will call on my ancestors for help and put on my Scottish thinking cap....

Here's what I came up with. I decided in order to keep my package less than 3/4" thick I would need to get all the air out of it first. I tried squishing it but it still had puffiness. Not much but you know some of those postal clerks can be sooo anal. (Love them, but it's true!)

Those that know me know I don't cook. I will clean up the kitchen but that's about it. But you also know I love gadgets! Guess what I have? A Seal-a-Meal! AND I know how to use it! 

So I did a little experiment.

Here are the goodies I want to send.

Once they are bagged up they looked like this.

Too thick!

I put the bag in the Seal-a-Meal, over the sealing strip and fed the bag opening in the vaccum channel...

closed the lid, locked it and pushed vacuum and seal!

See the seal at the top? I just trimmed it down a bit.

Here's how it looks after all the airs been sucked out of it.

DEFINITELY less than 3/4" thick now!

GENIUS, right? LOL!

Do you have any clever ideas for keeping shipping costs down? Please share below!

~ xxoOh! Shelley


Skye said...

Tips for checking your envelope and package size... make your own version of the 'slot of doom'. I'm sure you Americans have something like this too... our postal clerks have what looks like a stencil card with holes and slots cut out at various sizes. The slot it fits through declares whether it's considered an envelope or a package. Just save a piece or cardboard from a pizza box or other stiff cardboard, mark the postal sites requirements, and cut out the slot. Now you don't need to constantly measure... just slide it through the hole ;)

If you don't have a seal-o-matic gadget, cereal box cardboard and plastic cling wrap can help. Place the items you're mailing in small baggies, squish out the air and tape them to the board.This will keep items in place and prevent them from sliding on top of each other, altering the envelops thickness. Once you have everything taped (one piece per bag will do), wrap the entire board in a layer of cling wrap to hold it all in place as flat as possible. then you slide the whole thing inside a padded envelope and pop it through your new 'slot of doom' to make sure it's thin enough. Just remember to make sure you don't skimp on the padding or the item you're mailing could end up damaged.

Another penny saver is to reuse old bubble mailers. Just take a black marker or paint and cover over the address and any customs info still on it, then cover the entire envelope in some pretty paper. :)

Shelley Graham Turner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelley Graham Turner said...

Well that's great information you shared there Sandra BUT it doesn't count as a blog post for you...so get to work! I am watching you!!

PS you are even more frugal than me...hmmm, you Scottish, too?! (SCOTTISH and Proud of it!)

Skye said...

yup.. definitely some Scot in me ;) Along with a healthy does of German :D hehehe And yes, I have a note right in front of me concerning my next blog post, and that it must be written and posted no later than Friday ;) but thank you for the reminder ;) lol

Monique (A Half-Baked Notion) said...

Wow, between the two of you I am READY to mail Bead Soup ANYWHERE (and Shelley, your tartan looks SO much like the Urquhart... are we related???)

Joyce Fisher said...

Hi Shelley,

So there's ANOTHER thing we have in common…I don't like to cook either! Hmmm, but maybe I do need a seal-a-meal gadget for my craft room, that's a pretty genius idea! Thanks for the PDF with the USPS tips, that will be very helpful.

Peace, Love and Joy,

Leah Tees said...

HHmmm, I'm thinkin I might need to find me that gadget too, WAIT! I think I already have one! Now have to go find it :)
Great post Shelley!

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