Christmas post: the cheapest way to send a parcel

·4-min read
Photo credit: RomoloTavani - Getty Images
Photo credit: RomoloTavani - Getty Images

There's nothing quite like sending or receiving Christmas cards and presents to get us in the festive mood. With the rise of online shopping, we're all receiving more parcels – and often returning them too. So here's how to make sure yours arrives smoothly and safely.

Royal Mail delivered nearly 500m parcels in the last three months of 2020, but they're not the only option. When it comes to sending a Christmas present in the mail, there are tons of options, from courier collection straight from your door to drop-offs at supermarkets and corner shops.

Here's everything you need to know for cheap and convenient parcel delivery this Christmas.

What do couriers offer?

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images


GHI Tip: Royal Mail is now offering a parcel collection service. Simply buy postage through Click and Drop, select the items you wish to send and click the 'arrange collection' option once the items are in your basket.

Photo credit: Luis Alvarez - Getty Images
Photo credit: Luis Alvarez - Getty Images

GHI Tip: Still unsure of the cheapest way to send your parcel? Use Parcel2Go to compare up to eight couriers. Just enter where you're sending your parcel and its dimensions.

4 places you probably didn’t know you could pick up a parcel

  1. The supermarket: If your parcel is being sent by Yodel, Hermes or DPD, it’s likely that you’ll be able to pick it up from your local supermarket.

  2. Your local corner shop: There are nearly 47,000 convenience stores in the UK. Check if your local one has a collection point.

  3. WH Smith: Over 200 branches have post offices in-store where you can collect your online orders.

  4. Amazon Lockers: find your nearest on the Amazon website. During checkout of your purchase, select the locker as your delivery address and you will be emailed a six digit code to gain access to the locker. No charge for Amazon Prime members. For non-members, standard shipping is free, same-day is £5.99 (only available at selected lockers).

Protect your parcels from theft

*Order your parcel to go to a collection point (see above) rather than risk it being left on your doorstep.

*Invest in a parcel safe, such as an iParcelBox (£219.99, from their online store) to ensure that your package is safe.

*A camera or video doorbell will help you keep an eye on anyone approaching your front door (and can help the police identify potential thieves if you do have a theft).

The Ring Video Doorbell 3 streams and records HD video and is easy to install – you can buy this from Ring for £159.

Parcel scams to watch out for

Many fraudsters impersonate trusted organisations to trick consumers into transferring money or sharing information ('smishing'). An authentic delivery service will not withhold your parcel for a fee. If you're unsure, always look up the company’s real contact information and compare this with the address you have received. Instead of clicking links from emails, open a new tab and enter the URL of the site manually. DPD advises customers to use their app, Your DPD.

Photo credit: elenabs
Photo credit: elenabs

How has Brexit affected parcel delivery?

The rules around sending and receiving parcels abroad have changed since the UK left the single market during Brexit. (Note: if you are sending an item from Northern Ireland to the EU, this does not apply.)

If your friend or family member lives outside of the UK, you will need to fill out and attach a customs declaration to your parcel. These will be available at your local post office or on the Post Office website. Letters, postcards and documents are normally exempt from this.

The person outside the UK who is receiving the package may have to pay VAT or customs. These charges vary country to country and depend on the value of the item.

What else do I need to consider?

Terms and conditions

When sending packages using a courier, weight allowances vary. Anything weighing less than 1kg will generally qualify as a 'small parcel'. However, these weight categories may vary according to the courier firm, so check the terms and conditions carefully. Most couriers also have a maximum weight for packages — see the above chart.

Sending from Northern Ireland or the Highlands? Check individual courier websites for terms and conditions. You may be limited to collection or drop-off only, and 24-hour delivery may not be available.

Put your stamp on it

When it comes to posting Christmas cards, the Post Office isn't the only places you can buy stamps. You may not have realised that you can add stamps to your online supermarket shop, or print stamps at home. Use the Royal Mail's Click and Drop service to do this and post items in any mailbox. Just make sure you're get the scales out to check the weight of the item you're sending first.

You can also buy stamps at many stationary stores such as stationery stores, such as WH Smith, Paperchase and Ryman.

Last order dates

To make sure your parcel arrives for the big day, it's important to check last order dates. If you're sending your parcel via Royal Mail economy class, it's recommended that you post by December 17 at the latest. For 2nd class parcels send by December 18 and send 1st class by December 21.

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