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Hacks for Shipping Holiday Gifts

Hacks for Shipping Holiday Gifts

The holiday season is a time when you are shopping around for the best deals on gifts. However, not all of your gifts can be given in person, and not all of your deals are always found online. This turns into you having to make sure of shipping services to ensure that your gifts are sent and received in a timely manner.  Today, let’s go a bit over how to find the most affordable provider, how to stay on top of deadlines, and ways on how to track your shipments effectively.

Shipping Providers: Compared

For this article, we will focus on American shipping providers. The main providers are FedEx, UPS, and USPS. In terms of price, USPS is a good choice for individuals who don’t have an issue with size. If you item is able to fit into USPS’s flat rate boxes, you will be able to pay a specified price, as long as it’s under 7 pounds.

This is perfect for individuals who aren’t frequent shippers and want to take the guess work out of shipping. So, when is UPS or FedEx a good choice? The holiday season is a unique time when timing is of the essence. You may send a card or gift throughout the year for birthdays or anniversaries, and if they come a couple of days later than expected, then it’s not a problem.

However, during the holidays individuals are more serious about delivery times, something USPS isn’t as good at holding on to. FedEx and UPS aren’t apart of the postal service, these shipping companies are focused solely on shipments, and in turn they have been more reliable in terms of arrival times and dates. If price and delivery timing is an issue, you best bet would be FedEx.

Affordable Supplies for Shipping

If you are price conscious, USPS is a provider that provides individuals with free flat rate shipping items by request. These boxes, usually arriving at your door step a week after request, allows you to not only skip having to rush out for shipping supplies relative to your item’s size, but you can also ensure that you’ll pay a certain price. If you are shipping with USPS or considering this option, here’s how to get your boxes.

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    Deadlines: Closer than you Think

    You can choose a provider with the best deals or the fastest delivery times, but all of these titles become empty if you don’t put in the effort to ship on time. Providers love when we ship late because this gives them a promise to hike up prices.

    Don’t become victim to last minute shipping price gouging by making sure you know the deadlines for your basic ground shipment dates. As follows, USPS’s deadline is December 20th, three days earlier on the 17th (ten days from today) is FedEx’s deadline on Ground shipments, and finally, UPS is the most attractive in that you can ship anytime up till December 24th, they will be shipping on Christmas Eve.

    Of course, in the end, everything comes at a price. FedEx is moderately priced, USPS is one of the cheapest, but UPS is the most expensive. This, of course, isn’t taking into consideration if you miss the aforementioned dates, which means you’ll have to pay even more for next day or two day shipping.

    Amazon shoppers: more on specific deadlines are found here.

      Tracking the Package

      Apps for tracking your packages are available on almost every system that you use. First, let’s look out for our iOS users and list a couple of applications that help with tracking packages:

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        Slice for iOS – Focused not just on package tracking, but also your online spending habits, Slice automatically adds packages to track based on what you purchase online through your connected email accounts. Also, track how much you are spending and more. (Free)

          Delivery Status Touch – Resembling Parcels for Android, Delivery Status Touch makes use of visuals (including color scheme) as a way for you to quickly tell the provider. You can also get a high quality map view on the right side and up-to-date parcel information at the very bottom. ($2.99)

          Next up, Android users. Here are a couple of applications available to ensure that you know the status of your package.

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            Parcels for Android – This free application ensures that you stay updated on your shipment. even without having to lift another finger after first setting up. Package statuses are viewable in the application’s Google Maps view. (Free)

              TrackChecker – This basic barebones tracker application is perfect for our international shipping readers out there. (Free)

                Package Tracker Pro – Along with package tracking, Package Tracker Pro also allows you to receive up-to-date notifications and the ability through the sync site to automatically add/remove shipment tracking. ($1.99)

                An IFTTT Hack: Shipment Tracking

                If you aren’t familiar with IFTTT (no pun intended), the website allows you to create your own online algorithms allowing different websites to connect with each other to perform novel tasks, allowing the “Internet to work for you”.

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                  One quick example would be “If I take an Instagram photo, automatically add the photo to a specific folder in Dropbox”. Get it now? Well, there’s an algorithms (or recipe as they are called) for package tracking that can be sent as a text message to your phone, perfect for the non-smartphone owners. Simply edit the XXXXs with your tracking number, and there you go! Here’s the link to the recipe.

                  Holiday shopping can be stressful, but shipping your items don’t have to be. Let us know in the comments which tip was most helpful for you and which tips you have for our other readers.

                  Featured photo credit:  Tug boat taking out the ship from the harbor via Shutterstock

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                  Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                  How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                  How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                  We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                  We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                  So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                  Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                  What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                  Boundaries are limits

                  —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                  Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                  Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                  Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                  Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                  How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                  Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                  1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                  Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                  You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                  To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                  You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                  • When do you feel disrespected?
                  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                  • When do you want to be alone?
                  • How much space do you need?

                  You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                  2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                  Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                  Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                  3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                  Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                  That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                  Sample language:

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                  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                  Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                  4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                  Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                  Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                  Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                  We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                  It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                  It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                  Final Thoughts

                  Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                  Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                  Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                  The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                  Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                  Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                  They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                  Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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