Christmas cards covering the mantle by December 25. That was one of the ways my mother decorated our house for Christmas. The cards came from far and wide. Several from outside the US so they had great stamps. My mother enjoyed catching up on how her friends family’s were growning and changing. She would carefully select Christmans cards to send to her list of friends and spend a day or 2 writing a letter detailing highlights of our year. And when I get married I followed in the tradition.
To save a bit of money I would purchase my Christmas cards in the days after Christmas when they were 50% off and then I was set for the next year. I would even address them well ahead of time, like the year I had jury duty in October and had to sit at the court house for days on end waiting my turn. It was fun to send a picture of our growing family and tell of our family highlights.
But a couple of years ago I was so busy in December that I just never got the Christmas cards done. And when I calculated the postage, yikes… I felt bad for a while and planned to send them out in January, which did not happen either. I finally just decided it was not going to happen. And it did not really change much. I am sure that some of my friends were disappointed to not hear from us and probably have dropped us from their Christmas card list, but that is ok. The past couple of years I have send a Christmas letter by email and that was well received and free!
Because our family is spread out all over the country I have to mail Christmas gifts. That takes some planning. I try to purchase gifts that are easy to mail or at least not too difficult to mail. And mailing early in December is much less expensive that waiting until the days before Christmas. My father-in-law is even better at this than I am. He does his shopping over the internet and has the items mailed directly here, so he pays the shipping only once (or gets free shipping). It is always exciting to get a package in the mail so we do enjoy receiving those holiday gifts delivered by our postman or UPS delivery truck.
To save money when mailing packages, consider these tips:
- Books, cd’s, software, and music can be mailed media mail. This is substantially less than any other class of mail. It may not arrive as quickly, sometimes taking several weeks, so planning ahead is mandatory. But if you enjoy giving books, send them separately and use Media Mail rate.
- Packages are priced to mail by weight and destination. So the more your package weighs and the farther it has to go the more it will cost. Since we cannot control the distance pay close attention to the weight of the items. If you can find things that are light weight, it will reduce your postage cost.
- Flat rate boxes- If your items are heavy, consider flat rate boxes. These are graduated sized boxes provided by the post office (at no cost) that carry a flat rate of postage no matter the weight. The smallest if about the size of a VHS tape and costs $4.95, and they continue up to a large box that is over $10. I have a great postmaster and he lets me bring the package and weigh it to see what is the best method of shipping. For heavy things I often use a flat rate box.
- Other carriers- UPS, Fed-Ex, etc. are great alternative for shipping and have competative rates. Try to deal directly with the shipper rather than a shipping service like Mail Boxes, etc or Kinkos, as they charge a shipping fee in addition to the actual postage. But if you are short on time these services might be a good option, just know it will cost you a bit more.
- Send gift cards or e-gift cards- These can be included in a card and mailed for $ .44.
We are getting close to Thanksgiving now, so the holidays are officially here. In all the business of the season, don’t forget all that is important to you and yours.