If there’s one time of year when packaging and delivery solutions come into their own, it’s Christmas. Not only do consumers have long lists of items to package and send, but businesses - particularly those in retail, face added pressure to provide outstanding customer service. It’s vital that businesses not only deliver their goods promptly and in perfect condition to meet the huge surge in demand, but also make their goods stand out from the crowd at a time of intense retail competition.
For many businesses, Christmas represents the biggest commercial opportunity of the year as well as the busiest period. Thoughts seem to turn to Christmas earlier every year - in 2016 Google searches for ‘Christmas’ began to climb in September. Therefore, it’s crucial that businesses prepare for the season ahead of time, sourcing all the wholesale Christmas packaging and postal products they will need to ensure the best possible service for their customers.
Whether your business needs to send goods to your customers, to gift wrap your products or create festive in-store displays, or simply to meet the retail rush head on, chances are you’ll need packaging, packing or delivery solutions of some kind. Make sure you’re ready for the festive season with this ultimate guide to Christmas packaging for every occasion.
Finding the right Christmas packaging for your products
There are certain products that have become synonymous with the festive period, making it under Christmas trees across the land every year without fail. Christmas jumpers, bottles of wine and spirits and festive hampers are eternally popular choices with consumers, so if your business supplies any of these, you need to make sure you have the right packaging in stock.
If your business retails any kind of clothing, including festive jumpers, you can store and send them hygienically and securely in garment bags, which keep clothing protected from dust and dirt. Ensure the garment bags you stock include a printed safety warning and punched holes to prevent suffocation.
Festive tipples can be presented in bottle bags at Christmas, which can be added as a gift-wrapping touch, for delivery or for in-store presentation. However, remember that any packaging containing food should be classed as ‘food-safe’.
Virtually any products can be presented for Christmas in a festive hamper. Traditional food and drink, toiletries, and even stationary make perfect hamper contents, in fact, pretty much any type of gifts can be beautifully displayed in a hamper. You could even offer your customers the opportunity to create their own Christmas hamper from your products. Stock up on sturdy cardboard hamper trays, shredded paper to cushion your goods and fill your hamper, cellophane sheets to wrap it and ribbon or cord to add a finishing touch. You could even invest in a heat gun for shrink wrapping cellophane shrink wrap bags around your hamper, which not only creates a neat, uniform finish, but stops the goods inside from moving around.
It's not all about Christmas gifts though, don’t forget about Christmas cards! Invest in clear, glossy resealable polypropylene card sleeves for both individual cards and packs of cards, as well as envelopes.
Adding that Christmas touch to existing packaging
Even if your business doesn’t sell the type of products that might be given as Christmas gifts, you still may want to give your existing packaging or mailing solutions a little festive cheer. If so, consider a bespoke printed option, such as custom carrier bags in paper or plastic, tissue paper or cellophane wrap to give a nod from the Christmas season. Why not consider temporarily customising your company logo and printing it on your packaging, or including a message of festive greeting on your delivery boxes or packing tape? Remember that custom printed packaging has a longer lead time than standard products, so make sure you leave ample time.
Of course, you can also add a festive flourish to your packaging with ready printed finishing touches, such as ribbon, tissue paper and cellophane bags featuring designs like snowflakes, holly and Christmas trees.
Packaging your products for delivery
Many businesses will send more goods out during the Christmas period than any other time of year. Be ready for the flurry by sourcing all the wholesale packing, wrapping and postal products your business will need ahead of time – as we know, demand can start early.
This may include bubble wrap and Jiffy bags, postal boxes, Pricing in Proportion (PIP) boxes, document envelopes to be fixed to the outside of packages, mailing tubes and mailing bags. Whatever you choose, make sure your outer Christmas delivery packaging is fit for purpose - providing protection for your goods from dirt and damage (while not crushing or flattening the packaging inside), and safely concealing the contents for secure postage.
Considering the environment
With so much packaging being used at Christmas by both businesses and consumers, it’s not surprising that it takes a toll on the environment. However, it is possible to choose Christmas packaging solutions that have less of an environmental impact.
Many of the packaging products your business may use over the festive period are made from recycled materials and are also completely recyclable. For example, some cardboard hamper trays and padded Jiffy bags are made entirely of recycled and recyclable materials.
Some items, such as polythene mailing bags, are available made from recycled material and others, including loose fill peanuts, can be used many times over before being recycled.
How to care for fragile items
When sending delicate or breakable items, you need to ensure they are suitably protected. Stock up on bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard and bubble bags for smaller items, or rolls of polyethylene foam for larger goods. If boxing up your products to send, consider filling empty space with lightweight loose fill polystyrene chips or peanuts to make sure your goods don’t move around inside.
You could even invest in an air cushion machine, which creates air-filled cushions from rolls of specially-designed plastic film. A great space-saving measure, these machines allow you to quickly and easily make your own protective packing solutions as and when you need them, rather than keeping large amounts of loose fill packaging or bubble wrap.
Sending Christmas cheer overseas? Here’s what you need to know
If your business sells products or services overseas, make sure you’re ready for the Christmas countdown. When sending goods internationally, it’s even more important to be prepared in plenty of time, to know that your products are eligible for overseas shipping and to get your goods packed correctly.
For food and drink retailers, the most important thing to remember is that you cannot send anything overseas which could be categorised as ‘perishable’ during transit, which generally limits your options to food contained in a tin or jar, or dried goods. Hampers and other food or drink-based Christmas gifts tend to mainly include items with a long shelf life, which is just as well, as anything you send must last for at least six months from the date of shipping. Only send items in their original packaging with full ingredient information displayed clearly on the label. Never send anything that isn’t sealed, or has been tampered with in any way.
Alcohol can never be sent overseas, the same applies to perfume and aftershave, lighters, photographic supplies and lithium batteries, it is classed as a potentially flammable substance.
To be certain that the product you want to send is permitted into the country you’re sending to, it’s best to check on that country’s customs website.
Once you’re confident that you can send your goods legally, take care to package your goods for maximum protection. They will pass through numerous handling stages, conveyor belts and transit vehicles on their journey so make sure to use good quality packaging products.
When you come to send your goods, choose a courier or delivery service that matches your needs and budget. Obviously the longer you have for delivery the better, but for any last-minute orders, make sure your chosen service can get your items where they need to go reliably and cost-effectively before the all-important big day. There are different Christmas delivery deadlines depending on where in the world you are sending to, so be sure to check.
When your courier collects your goods for international delivery, you will need to fill and attach a customs form to your parcel, so that any fees applicable are charged at the right rate. Include accurate information about the value of the items and the reason for sending; some countries operate an import exemption for gifts up to a certain value. Sending to most countries outside of the European Union will result in customs charges, but if your items do incur a cost, this is usually payable by the recipient of the goods. However, you can choose to absorb this cost as a business, most couriers will be able to arrange this for you.
Christmas packaging dos and don’ts
Finally, here are a few quick tips for Christmas packaging that will help your business get the best from the festive season:
- Double-box your products if they are particularly fragile.
- Use double-walled boxes for heavy products.
- Send electronic devices, with the batteries included separately. Also allow an additional 24-48 customs clearance where required.
- Wrap porcelain and china in acid-free tissue paper to avoid any discolouration.
- Remove lightbulbs from lamps and wrap them separately for added protection.
- Send children’s toys or other non-fixed battery-powered items with batteries in place, they can switch themselves on during transit and waste battery life.
- Be tempted to re-use old boxes to send goods for Christmas. Not only will this look untidy and unprofessional, damaged boxes can encounter problems when shipped overseas.
- Cram items into a box. Ideally, you should aim for a couple of inches of space around your goods, which can be filled with loose fill packaging or air cushions.