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Published November 21st 2015
Go by the book
With our busy lives, Christmas is often one of the few times we find the time to keep in touch with friends and family overseas. However, working out how to send cards and presents for the least amount of money can turn into an annual headache.
Christmas is a time for keeping in touch with loved ones overseas
It used to be much cheaper to send cards and presents overseas and I would send a big box of goodies over in September by sea mail. But over the last few years Australia Post's charges have soared, and are due to go up again in 2016.
Here are some tips to keep your postage costs down. My examples relate to the UK, which is in the 'Rest of the world' zone for letters and zone 6 for parcels. (There are eight parcel zones, with zone 8 being the most expensive – only Israel is in zone 8).
Get the latest edition of the booklet 'Post charges' from the post office. If your branch doesn't have any spare copies ask them to photocopy the relevant pages for international delivery.
Get the 'Post charges' booklet from the post office
Buy a micro-scale so you can weigh your parcels accurately – these are useful for cooking too.
Buy a micro-scale
Divide your cards and parcels up so you are sending the maximum weight for the price.
If you can get yourself organised enough to think about Christmas in September you can send parcels by sea mail. The savings can be substantial if you are sending a heavy parcel, for example, a parcel weighing up to 2kg costs $41.80 to send by sea mail – a saving of $34.10 on airmail. Of course, you may have to buy Christmas cards and wrapping paper a year in advance, but you can often buy these half-price just after Christmas, thereby adding to your savings.
Choose presents to be posted overseas wisely. There are added restrictions to consider as gifts need to be light and unbreakable. Items of clothing or jewellery are good options for women, or why not make your own presents? Your family and friends will appreciate the time, effort and love that has gone into hand-made gifts.
The main costs you need to be aware of are those for posting:
Greeting cards should be sealed in a small letter envelope and be marked 'Card only'. During November and December cards weighing 20g or less can be sent for $2.55.
A better bet, if you are sending multiple cards to one family or to people in the same locality, is to send a few cards together as you can send cards weighing up to 50g for $2.75.
If all your relatives will be seeing each other over the Christmas period, you could send all the cards to one person and save a fortune, as you can send cards weighing up to 250g for $7.40.
Send multiple cards together to keep postage costs down
Internet shopping is a great solution for sending presents overseas as if you order gifts from UK websites postage is usually included or is minimal. But what if you find the perfect gift locally or want to send something handmade?
Parcels weighing up to 20kg can be posted … but that doesn't mean they should be; parcels can cost more than the price of the gift to send. Recently, I got my niece's 21st card and present ready to post, but when I looked up the cost of airmail postage it was going to cost $18.20 to send it. It only weighed 125g but I discovered I could post up to 500g for the same price. So I bought Christmas cards and presents for her and her family, and with a little thought and effort I managed to send it all for the same price.
Don't forget to include the packaging when you weigh your parcel. Mine weighed in at 497g – if it had weighed another 4g it would have cost $39.10 (for 500g to 1kg) to send to the UK. For heavier parcels the charges are $56.55 for 1kg to 1.5kg, $75.90 for 1.5kg to 2kg, plus $9.90 for every 500g or part of after that.
Don't forget to include the packaging when you weigh your parcel
There is no cut-off date for Christmas posting, but it can take up to two weeks for items to get to the UK at this time of year. With Christmas only a month away, maybe it's time to get shopping and posting?