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Oversized or Oddly Shaped Items

By Laura Wallis
Dresser and snowboardAnnie Schlechter

How to Wrap

  • Stringed instruments: Send one in its own hard-shell case, with plenty of balled-up packing paper inside to add support. Loosen the strings to relieve any pressure on the neck.
  • Large mirrors: Apply masking tape in a grid pattern across the surface of the glass to guard against cracking before wrapping in bubble wrap or sheets of foam.
  • Snowboards and surfboards: Attach pieces of cardboard to the top and the bottom of the board. "Tape the cardboard to itself, not the board, or you could damage the surface," says Shawn Kelly of Burton Snowboards, in New York City. Then protect the gear with padding paper, which has a honeycomb texture.

How to Pack

  • Snag a box. Companies that ship large and unusually shaped items often sell custom-made boxes for those jobs. Inquire at a packing-supply store or a specialty retailer (like a music shop).
  • Load it up. Stuff any empty spaces in the box with loose fill, but keep in mind that packing peanuts aren't ideal for heavy gifts, because they won't prevent things from shifting to the bottom. According to UPS guidelines, it's better to use a "block and brace" approach, in which you surround objects on all sides with foam or corrugated cardboard to absorb shocks.

How to Ship

  • U.S. Postal Service processes boxes weighing up to 70 pounds.
  • UPS, FedEx, and DHL accept packages of up to 150 pounds; delivery restrictions and handling charges might apply.
  • Freight. Beyond 150 pounds or a combined length and girth of 165 inches, a package becomes freight, which means "shipping costs go up astronomically," says Matthew Chasen, chief executive officer of uShip (uship.com), an online shipping auction marketplace that lets movers and transport companies bid for your job. Shipping freight also requires packing the goods on a pallet or in a crate sturdy enough to be handled by a forklift.
Read More About:Gifts

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