Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cardmaking 101: Send Off

Did you miss a previous post in this series:
Introduction
Supplies
Card Basics
Digi Images
Embellishment

Send off: 
How to package and ship your cards

We've made it!  All the way to the end! And what's more final in card making than sending your card off to it's recipient?   Unfortunately, I can't help you in filling out your cards (I still struggle with what to say!), but in this post, I will be describing different methods of packaging and shipping your cards.  I do have to note, all of the rates and "rules" that I will be mentioning here are for the US Postal Service.  I do not have experience mailing anything through any other country's mail service, however, the packaging of the cards will be pretty similar - you will just have local postal regulations/rates to deal with as well.  Also, I'm using commonly available envelopes, rather than custom made envelopes.  A custom envelope could potentially change the postage rate.   

In the Card Basics post (link at top of this post), I described different card sizes.  One of which was the A2
card.   This particular card is the size I use for a good portion of my "Get Well", "Sympathy", and Christmas cards.  The reason for this is that they are the easiest and cheapest to mail.  I tend to use the "social envelopes" (shown below) to send these cards.  The envelope is larger than the card, but this allows for some dimension.  This is NOT the way to ship if you will be using dimensional flowers, but a few [well adhered] pearls or buttons, and paper layers are okay. 



A wonderful thing about sending a card in the social envelopes, is that it fits into the regulations for a "first class letter" - as long as it is less than 1/2" thick and under 2 ounces.  Which means that this method is the CHEAPEST way to send a card.  The rate for this is going to vary a bit, but is fairly easy to figure.  You will, of course, be paying the regular first class letter rate ($0.46 at the time of this post), you will likely ALSO have to pay for the card to be non-machinable (an extra $0.20) because of any embellishments, and to keep the card from being bent in a sorting machine.  Then the weight can add again ($0.20 if the card is between 1-2 ounces: I've only ever had one card that didn't need the extra postage for weight).  USPS DOES sell $0.20 stamps, as well as selling $0.66 and $0.86 cent stamps - so you do have the option of purchasing the stamps and avoiding lines at the post office.  

The larger - square - cards can be shipped a couple of ways.  Please keep in mind that a square envelope - even if your card is completely flat and able to bend - is considered non-machinable and will require extra postage.  For cards without any super dimensional embellishment, I like to use 6"x9" manila envelopes (a "flat" envelope is shown in the photo, but there are also padded envelopes at this size).   If you look online, or at a local shipping store, you may find decor envelopes that you could use as well.   


While you are able to fairly easily determine the postage for an A2 size card, the larger cards will have to be taken into the post office to be weighed for a postage rate.  The heaviest that a "letter" can be is 3.5 oz, and by the time you add layers of  paper and embellishments to a 5.5" or larger card, you are reaching the borderline of that weight.  The 6"x9" envelope is going to typically cost less than $3 to mail (most of mine have been in the $1.20 - $1.90 range based on weight and dimension), but, again, this is based on weight, so lots of layers and lots of heavy embellishments can change that cost.  

When it comes to cards with LOTS of dimension, you want to protect those items a little further.  A small box - either custom made, or premade - will protect flowers and other dimensional items from being crushed, bent, or torn.  (If you can find them, small personal size pizza boxes without the logos are great for shipping, because they do not need additional wrapping on the outside - just tape, address, and mail.)  With a custom box made from cardstock, you will need to use a padded envelope for a bit more protection.   The shipping cost for this will, again, be a few dollars (between $3-$5 depending on weight).  Typically - because of the shipping cost - this style of card is one that I will mail only for special occasions, or if I will include the card inside a package of other things that I planned to send. 

The card inside this box will be revealed on Monday!  
One thing to keep in mind when mailing - ANYTHING really - is that you want the address to be very visible.  If you use a patterned paper to custom make an envelope, or use a bunch of stickers to decorate a purchased envelope, make sure that the decoration does not compete with the address for focus.  Postal employees need to be able to QUICKLY find the address, and CLEARLY read it, in order for your beautiful card to be delivered.  If you are reusing a box, make sure any numbers, addresses, and bar codes that are not related to the boxes destination are marked out.  It may not look "pretty" but it will get delivered!  And finally - make sure that the address is attached WELL!  If you are using a label, make sure it is adhered completely.  If you are taping on a piece of paper - tape all of the edges well, and contemplate writing the delivery address on the box underneath.  If for any reason your address gets removed, the package can still be delivered.    

* * * * * * * * * * * 

So, we've gone from miscellaneous supplies, to a finished and mailed card.  It's been loads of fun writing this series.   I hope that if you had never made a card before, you feel a bit more confident in trying.   If you've been making cards for a while, I hope you've found something new, or a different perspective on an old way of doing things.  

Have fun, and good luck!  


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