The holidays and holiday spending are upon us, and the cost of gift-giving quickly adds up.

While getting great deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday may help stretch your budget a little farther, it would be a shame to see all that saved money fly away when it comes time to send presents to faraway family and friends.

The post office is one way to get packages to their intended destinations, but don't rule out UPS and Federal Express, especially when it comes to shipping large packages the post office won't accept. Just keep these tips in mind:

Size vs. Weight

Often, with larger dimension packages customers are charged a shipping rate based on the dimensions of the package rather than the weight. For instance, a big box for stuffed animals might only weigh 10 pounds, but the cost is based on the dimensions of the box above a certain size, and the bigger the box, the bigger the price. Check with the individual shipper to see how packages might be rated.

Irregular Fees

It can be hard to find a box for difficult-to-package items like tires or snowboards. Many companies charge an additional fee of up to $20 for items not packaged in a cardboard box or some sort of envelope. However, if there isn’t already a large enough box handy, it might be cheaper to ship a large item as an "irregular" shipment. This means it will have to be hand-transported through shipment instead of carried over conveyor belts due to its lack of packaging. Large boxes can be expensive, and so can shipping them. It may be wiser to go irregular.

Prohibited

Keep in mind that certain things can't be shipped from individual to individual. While a company may have licensing to ship wine to customers, individuals cannot ship certain restricted items. Be aware of what these items are, and keep them out of your holiday shipping. Some restricted items include: Alcohol, tobacco, items with lithium batteries, gold coins, aerosol cans, perfumes, and lighters.

Business vs. Residential

When shipping to a business address instead of a residential (home) address, it is possible to get a cheaper shipping rate through certain companies. Clear the idea with the shipping recipient and see if their company allows them to receive personal packages. It could be as much as a 30% savings!

No surprises

It goes without saying that it's great to have a tracking number and know where the package you sent is throughout the shipping process. However, it's even better to double-check the information before you ship. For instance, bring along a copy of the recipient's address and phone number, and double-check the information before it leaves your hands. A phone number can really aid delivery drivers in locating a hard-to-find address, re-scheduling a drop-off, or re-routing a package. When shipping to a business address, be sure to include the company and the individual recipient's name so the package isn't refused. Always give as much information as possible!

Everyone wants their holiday packages to arrive in time for loved ones, but it doesn't have to be an extremely expensive hassle. Being prepared and having a little prior knowledge in your back pocket can make a difference in your holiday shipping experience!

This is a guest post by Kaitlyn from Martinsburg, WV
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