Although this entry is going to be primarily composed around babies and all things associated, it still offers some valuable information for people of all walks of life. Because we all know someone with kids, right? Or who are expecting? I mean, I seriously doubt any of us have no children in our lives. It would be incredibly difficult to manage, although I guess the person with pedophobia would beg to differ. Even say it was necessary. The fact of the matter is that it’s impossible to avoid the little buggers.
When I had my first kid I thought that I was too cool for school and wasn’t going to get one of those diaper genies that wraps each individual diaper and sucks it down into the compartment, sealing in any stench and saving everyone in the vicinity from instant nausea. I took one look at the price of those bin liners and thought, “Nah, I’ll pass.” Seriously, though, maybe if they didn’t insist on packaging them in the most expensive way possible…
By the time we were having our second kid I still wasn’t completely resolved to make the commitment. I mean, it’s all well and good to get everything as a gift, but you are the one that has to keep buying the bin liners. It’s a long term commitment, if you think about it.
Well, when baby number three was on the way I couldn’t wait to ask for a diaper genie. I was ready for the commitment. I was ready to be done with the nasty diapers lying around. I was ready to be done with a pile of poopy diapers right outside the front door. Some people would wrap up their dirty diapers in old shopping bags. Not me. I couldn’t bear adding another step to the whole process. As soon as all buns were wiped clean and reswaddled I wanted to march that bundle of refuse outside immediately. Outside being the key word. I didn’t want to march all the way to garbage can, mind you.
Not until I had amassed enough to make the trip worth while. I’m sure all of this sounds pretty heinous to most of you. So you will gladly rejoice that I did indeed commit to the diaper genie, and faithfully paid for the bin liners for the three years it was in use. I then sold it at a garage sale for five bucks. It really is the gift that keeps on giving. Keep that in mind when having your own, or buying for someone else.
Contrary to popular belief, bigger is not always better; you know what I’m saying? People can tell you that it is, that you are getting more for your money, so to speak, and all that jazz, but if you are dealing with something smaller it goes without saying that bigger will just be bad…or at least a waste. Since we are talking about small items that need to be shipped (that is what we are talking about, right?), it would behoove us to talk about small shipping boxes.
Could a shoe box become part of this category? Absolutely it can. In fact, it should. Converting shoe boxes into small shipping boxes is just the thing we are looking for these days. This is called recycling, and it’s become really popular, with good reason too. Throwing something away that could easily be used for a different purpose just plain old doesn’t make any kind of sense. Don’t be embarrassed to mail some books off in the same box you got your snakeskin stilettos in (just make absolutely sure you didn’t forget to take the receipt out so that no one discoveres how much you spend on your shoes, and how much you don’t spend on anyone for Christmas and birthdays…That could quickly become a Facebook scandal…).
How small is too small? I get this question a lot. The general rule of thumb seems to be this: big enough to write the recipient’s address, your return address, and to include the packaging label/ barcode. And all on the same side. The crew will not consider it a neat game if they have to turn the package every which way to try and get the different pieces of information. If the box does wind up being too small you will be encouraged to put it in a larger box, or in a bubble envelope. You should want to do this anyway because the odds of something that small getting lost in translation are very high indeed.
Post offices and shipping stores in general often carry a variety of small shipping boxes. They also carry anything else you might need, like cardboard cylinders for posters, and boxes with balloons on them to act like wrapping paper, and tape and labels and, if you are lucky, shredded paper for stuffing. There is always something to fit your needs. The point is, don’t try to overdo it. There are enough options out there for you to find the size you are looking for.
I always wind up forgetting some of my shipping supplies when I go to the post office, and then I wind up having to buy something from them that seems to be quite over-priced and also under-quality. This usually makes me pretty annoyed, and I tend to be annoyed at the post office anyway. I don’t want to come across as one of those people that always need to have something a certain way, but there are definitely two places on this planet that will wipe the smile off of your face: the DMV and the post office. No matter how resolved you are to go in there and keep your head high you always wind up leaving with leaky-gut symptoms. Thankfully, the post office right by house is usually amazing. Unless a certain lady is on duty, and then not so much. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen her in a while…
Here is a list of packaging and shipping supplies you may want to consider keeping on hand in your car for those days when, spur of the moment, you throw the box for your grandma in the back seat so you don’t keep forgetting to send it:
- Address book. Unless you have all of your addresses in your phone, like a lot of people, consider keeping an address book in your glovebox. You don’t have to put the names down, for safety purposes, but you should be able to tell who the address belongs to by what letter it’s filed under and then the city and state. This might not seem like it belongs under “shipping supplies” but, believe me, if you don’t have the address that baby isn’t going anywhere.
- This might seem pretty obvious but I guess it’s not, because I always forget it. I have taken to keeping a roll of packaging tape in my glovebox so that I don’t have to keep spending upwards of 4 dollars on a new, crappy roll at the post office.
- Black Sharpie. Yes, even these should be considered as shipping supplies. A Sharpie is a good way to make sure the address is big and bold, and that it can be written on just about anything and still show up. And they fit nicely in a center console.
- I keep a book of stamps in my glovebox and I also keep one or two in my wallet. The time that I didn’t I accidently put my letter in the letter box without any postage and I had to call to have somebody come fish it out.
I have been known to want to cut corners. It drives my husband kind of crazy. Thankfully, for his sake and for mine, I have grown out of it for the most part. I should clarify that I have never cut a corner merely to be lazy. If there was one thing my mother taught me it was to do a job well the first time, and that has been a true piece of wisdom consistently. (For the record, she taught me much more than just that, and most of it was good to know. I hope to pass on more than this little piece of information to my own kids as they grow older.)
What I actually mean by cutting corners is that I want to save money where I can- also known as “being cheap”. While frugality is an admirable trait, being cheap winds up doing the opposite. It turns out that buying something cheap is rarely the better option. This doesn’t mean you should buy the most expensive option on the shelf. I rarely put anything with a brand name in my cart. Usually the store brand is good enough. It’s the really off brand that starts causing problems. When it’s miles cheaper than all the other kinds, and not on clearance for some good reason, you should really just say “no”.
For instance, I have learned that you can’t cut corners when it comes to packaging tape. If you try to buy the cheap packaging tape you will just wind up screwing yourself. It happens to me every time. The thing is that the cheap stuff is thinner. So as soon as you manage to pick at the edge enough to lift it, and then you pull some, it just can’t handle the resistance and it will tear until it is the width of dental floss, and it will continue to tear at that same, minimal width so long as you keep pulling. Trying to unravel all of that to get back to the wider tape is crazy-making, to say the least. What you wind up with is a giant wad of ripped up, cheap packaging tape before you throw up your hands and go out to buy some decent stuff. I have learned this the hard way more times than one. From trying to ship a box to a friend to trying to pack up our house, it never worked in my favor to cut the corner. I just wasted more time and more money. I had to learn to just say “no” sometimes.