5 No-Fail Packing Tips and Hacks for Shipping Fragile Items


Are you packing fragile items? There must be some tips and tricks to packing breakable items through the mail.

This article dives deep into your packing options when shipping fragile items. Find out how the post office can help with the process and learn some hacks from our seasoned Etsy sellers on packing breakables.

1. Choose The Right Box Size

The first rookie mistake I made years ago was to cram one of my orders into a small box that did not fit properly and ship it out with blind confidence. I caught on that the smaller the box the less expensive it is to ship. However, I found a small discount in shipping was not worth the pain of a broken item.

  • Be sure to provide a box large enough to ensure extra protection along the sides of the box with packing material.
  • You want the box large enough to support impact protection.

2. BubbleWrap vs. Paper for Packing

And the winner is…..

Pound for pound butcher paper bought in a large roll is much cheeper. Honestly I use both. I like to wrap my fragile items in bubble wrap however, when it come to using fill there is nothing more economical than scrunched up butcher paper to keep my items safe.

I sell over 100 antiques a year. This roll of paper has lasted me more than 3 years. I purchased this paper roll on Amazon and it was well worth the investment.

3. Not Just For Swimming Anymore: A Hack You’ll Love

Recently a fellow Esty Seller Nina Rowland of the Etsy shop Hunt & Peck shared with me her hack for using an inexpensive dollar tree item for shipping. She uses pool noodles of all things. Brilliant!

With Pool noodles being only $1 she crafts her packing trick so she can use one noodle on several shipments. Here is how she does it. Nina was kind enough to send along some photos to demonstrate her shipping hack.

Step 1: Gather the materials you will need. A Pool noodle, foam pocket, bubble wrap, cling wrap, and scissors.

Step 2: Place the item inside of a foam pocket. This foam protects the surface while it is wrapped.

Step 3: Use bubble wrap in both directions so that the item is completely enclosed in bubble wrap. Tape securely.

Step 4: Use scissors to slit the pool noodle up one side so that it opens.

Step 5: Place two pieces of the pool noodle on two sides to just under the width of the item for the top and bottom. Cut two shorter pieces to fit on the other sides.

Step 6: Use stretch plastic wrap and seal the item in both directions so the noodles can’t fall off. Important: Do not apply the plastic wrap too tightly.

Step 7: Once all wrapped choose a box that is approx. 4” wider and deeper than the item. You need a buffer zone around your item for packing paper.

Step 8: Make a cocoon of crumpled paper or packing peanuts around item. Place the item down inside the box and then cover it with more of my packing product on top.

4. For the Love of the “Fragile” Labels!

You have two options here when it comes to Fragile Stickers.

Option 1: USPS Special Handing Service / Fragile Sticker

Your first option is to purchase special fragile handling insurance at the USPS office. This extra protection comes at a fee. At my local post office the fee is $11.15 for this “Special-Handling Fragile” service. Although this service WILL NOT speed up the delivery of your package it does promise to give the package “preferential handling to the extent practical” per USPS guidelines.

To read more about this service here is a July 2020 article written by the USPS Entitled: USPS Special Handing Service. Read all about the special insurance and care you can purchase at the post office for your package.

Your package will also proudly sport this official fragile sicker to let your postal carrier know that you paid for this special treatment. If you are sending a very expensive item this may be worth the extra cost of the postal insurance.

Option 2: Purchase your own Fragile Sticker

If you are thinking additional fees won’t fit your budget this next trick is for you. As I ship a lot of fragile items from my Etsy Shop it was worth it to me to made this small invest in these “fragile” stickers that cost less than 3 cents each.

Question: Using my own stickers , will the post office provide extra care with this item? HMMM.. We can only hope but from my research most postal workers say they ignore the sticker.

So why do I add the sticker to my package? To me I feel if someone receives the item in the mail as least they will not toss it recklessly on a desk. I think it also shows your customer you took care in the packaging of their item.

5.Use Stretch Wrap to Secure Your Item

If I had to name one of my go-to inexpensive must have items when packing I would have to say stretch plastic wrap is my favorite.

Here is some advise from Moving.com to explain why plastic wrap is such a great product to use when shipping.

While plastic wrap (also called stretch wrap) can certainly be tricky to use, don’t let it intimidate you. Despite its clingy, drive-you-crazy ways, it’s one of the best and most efficient materials for packing heavy items when moving. Plastic, stretchy wrap tends to be tear-resistant and can hold even the largest of items together for the duration of the move.

Moving.com. How to Use Plastic Wrap When Moving.

Plastic Wrap Tips:

  • It’s very important not to wrap your item too tight. The pressure of the wrap could damage or break the item you are shipping.
  • Buy in bulk. For the power of what plastic wrap offers it’s important to have enough on hand. You always get a bigger bang for your buck with the larger rolls. I buy the 2 Pack of Mighty Gadget (R) Industrial Mini Stretch Wrap Film with Handle on Amazon. It lasts and works amazing.
  • Perfect for shipping small and large items.

In Conclusion

Packing fragile items does not need to be stressful. Learning the basic hacks from our seasoned sellers can help you along the way. From stretch wrap to dollar store items you can make sure your items arrive safe and sound to your customer.

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