Getting a package in the mail can lead to a little internal buzz of excitement or a full-blown case of glee. Imagine how much more of an impact a package can have if it isn’t just a brown box but something the sender took time to personalize and decorate. The next time you mail a gift to a friend, think about how you can take the delivery up a notch by decorating the box.
Heed the Rules
Although decorating a mailing carton is perfectly acceptable to the U.S. Postal Service, you should keep two things in mind:
- Parcels are sorted by machine. Your parcel shouldn’t include anything that can get caught in the machine, such as ribbon, twine, pine cones or mistletoe.
- The delivery and return addresses need to be easy to find and unobstructed.
Failure to follow these guidelines could lead to your package being damaged en route or returned to you.
General Decorating Ideas
There are a number of decorating techniques you can employ to add flair and uniqueness to a package. Try some of the following basic decorating methods:
Wrap it. You can simply wrap the package as you would a regular gift, but with a few exceptions:
- Use heavy paper that is less likely to tear during shipping.
- Seal all edges with clear packing tape.
- Put the mailing and return addresses on a plain white sticker on the front.
Stamp it. Use an ink stamp or homemade potato stamp to add an interesting illustration to a package. Make sure you leave the address space un-stamped, though, so the text is legible.
Stick it. Decorating a package with stickers can personalize a parcel quickly and easily.
Draw it. If you have some decent drawing skills and a few colorful pens, you can add illustrations directly to the package, from decorative curlicues to full landscapes.
Paste it. To add images and interest without relying on your drawing talent (or lack of it), print images or cut them out of magazines and paste them onto the packaging. To keep the images from coming loose during shipping, tape them down with clear packing tape.
Stencil it. A can of spray paint and some stencils — either pre-made or handmade — can result in some interesting designs. Try using two colors of paint and layering stencils over one another for an artsy look.
Once you’ve got the basics down, take on a more ambitious method of decorating:
Start with a blank canvas. Wrap the parcel in sturdy white paper — or any other single color — before you start. This new “blank canvas” is especially handy if you’re reusing a box that has other markings on it. What’s more, if the recipient really likes what you’ve done, she can carefully remove the outer covering and keep it as a separate gift.
Decorate the sides, four times. A rectangular parcel has four vertical sides when it’s lying flat. Why not use each of these sides as a separate canvas for your creation, leaving an unadorned top for the mailing and return addresses? Pick a theme — the four seasons, the four suits in a deck of cards — or ask four different family members to decorate a single side and have fun.
Turn the parcel into something else. If your package is a perfect cube, turn it into a giant die — put the addresses in the middle of the side with four dots. A cardboard shipping tube could become a crayon, a light saber or a gigantic candy cane.
Decorating a package is not only fun, but it can really brighten a person’s day. Imagine the joy that a fanciful package can bring to not only the recipient, but to everyone who plays a role in handling and delivering it.