To send nearly anything (yes, even a life-size stuffed animal) follow this advice.
How to Wrap
Vases, glassware: Stuff bubble wrap inside hollow glass or ceramic objects before bundling them up.
Jewelry: Follow the advice of Charles Bieber, registrar of Sotheby's jewelry department: Put each piece in its own resealable plastic bag, then place in a box filled with tissue paper.
Porcelain dolls, china: Wrap each item in acid-free tissue paper (sold at art-supply stores), which won't cause discoloration, says Irving Chais, owner of the New York Doll Hospital, a 107-year-old doll-repair firm in New York City. Surround with bubble wrap.
Light fixtures: Remove bulbs and dangling parts, if possible; wrap with tissue paper. Protect entire fixture with bubble wrap.
How to Pack
Choose a sturdy container. The best choice is corrugated cardboard. Made with ridges of air cushions, it is stronger and absorbs shocks better than plain cardboard. Reusing a box is fine; just make sure that labels and printing are removed or thoroughly crossed out.
Make it cushy. Place several inches of loose fill, such as eco-friendly packing peanuts, around the gift once it's inside the shipping box. The material absorbs vibration and prevents shifting. For very delicate goods, FedEx suggests double-boxing: Tuck the cushioned gift snugly in a box, seal with tape, then place in a larger box surrounded by loose fill. Seal again. Now shake it. Is there anything moving? If so, add more fill.
How to Ship
Consider insurance. After the basic no-cost coverage (usually the first $100), the standard charge for insuring with UPS, FedEx, and DHL is 55 cents to $1.50 for every $100. Check your home owners' insurance policy and deductible to see if damage to an item in transit will be covered. And there's no reason to shy away from the U.S. Postal Service, says Bieber. "Everyone who touches a box that's registered and insured scans it," he says, meaning there's a chain of people who are accountable for the package.