Smart shipping strategies

The cost of shipping is often overlooked, but can take a big bite out of your holiday budget.  According to the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend about $700 on holiday expenses with only $26.10 earmarked for cards and postage.  Since we have so little set aside for shipping gifts, we'd better get on the ball and ship early if we want to get the gifts there in time for Christmas.

Here's an example of how seven days can save me $23.75 on shipping my Grandma's Christmas gift.

If you’re still buying books in book form and need to ship them, don’t forget to ask about a “media rate.” The post office offers special pricing for sending all types of media including books, film, manuscripts, sound recordings, video tapes, CDs and DVDs. If the 3-pound box from Denver to Pittsburgh qualified for the media rate, it would only cost $3.16 to ship. 

And since you time is valuable too, be sure to plan your visit to the post office.  In 2009, the Postal Service saw its busiest day on December 14, with 830 million pieces of mail entering the system. This year's busiest day will probably be Monday, December 13. 

For international shipping costs and deadlines visit And, if you’re shopping online, consider placing your orders on Free Shipping Day. On December 17, hundreds of merchants will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. For a list of participating merchants visit


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.