Coffee Talk Humor

How To Send Stuff To Your International Friends

10th January 2018

Medium-known fact/disclaimer: I’m an American living in Scotland.  I know a lot of people and more than half of them live not here.  I have been sending and receiving airmail since I was 12 years old.  These are my personal tips on how to send stuff to people who live where you don’t, while still keeping your bank account happy.  And theirs, too.

Most of the stuff I send goes to people in the US.

My mother has been sending me stuff for years.  I am forever telling her mark it as a gift. Because if it is a gift, and it isn’t declared a gift, the recipient pays the fees/tax on their own gift.  Thereby making it not a gift.

Don’t overvalue what you are sending.  If you have to put a number on the customs form, use a number that reflects the value of a replacement of the item.  Do not pad it out with all the love and energy that went into that sweater you made.

Work with the shape of the item.  Don’t send a pair of socks in a giant box.  

If you are sending books, use a padded mailer/Jiffy bag/whatever the hell it’s called.

Don’t put a postcard in an envelope.

Send flat things:  Like books, or book sleeves, or king-size chocolate bars, or IOUs for the money your people had to pay for their gifts.

Speaking of books, read  this post on book recommendations for young kids over here.

Know your shipping times.  Even cheaper shipping still gets between my two (three?) islands in about a week.

Order stuff online and have it delivered to your person.  Make sure the company/artist/glass-blower you are ordering from actually delivers to your person.

Don’t send glass.  Yes, I know some of it is pretty.  It’s also heavy.  And breakable.

Know their size. This cuts out the need for expensive returns and the guilt of regifting or having to be nice about the fugly shoes.

Have them pay the shipping and promise you will pay them back.  I don’t recommend this.  Keeping friends is more important than having stuff.  Unless you compensate them with a bunch of booze.  And then share it.  Getting drunk together deepens friendships faster than giving people unwanted crap gifts, anyway.

Or ignore all of this and send them a gift card,  a magazine subscription, a place on an online course.   Or do a video call and hang out in their kitchen like you used to.  Because they miss your face.






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  • Reply Sonia Cave 11th January 2018 at 2:43 pm

    I need to send this link to my friends and family in the UK so they know when sending us things to Sweden 🙂

    • Reply Lorna 11th January 2018 at 2:48 pm

      Please do – I wrote it for everyone who finds getting post um, extra interesting. 😉

  • Reply BattleMum 11th January 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Great hints and tips. I know all too well the pitfalls of trying to send stuff between countries. It’s a nightmare to receive items in Portugal if they’re from outside the eu and not declared a gift!

  • Reply StarlightandStories (@2ndtimeMama) 11th January 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Some great tips here, we have friends in Peru and I’m always looking to ship things more economically to them.

  • Reply thegirlnextshore 11th January 2018 at 9:44 pm

    Great tips here! I love sending personalised care packages to friends and hate relying on Amazon etc!

    • Reply Lorna 18th January 2018 at 9:12 am

      I have a love/hate thing going with Amazon. Like, I hate that I love it.

  • Reply Laura Dove 11th January 2018 at 11:00 pm

    What great tips! I often receive items through the blog from other countries and it’s crazy sometimes the state they arrive in!

  • Reply cvnxena 12th January 2018 at 10:45 am

    love these! I am terrible posting things so this is actually helpful here! Although I don’t know who’s trying to post glass eek!

    • Reply Lorna 12th January 2018 at 11:55 am

      Neil got beer glasses from my Mom this year.

  • Reply Lutheranliar 12th January 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I wish I had read this before my daughter went to school in England. I sent her an old coat of mine — and the shipping and other nonsense ended up costing more than the coat did originally! Thank you for some great advice.

    • Reply Lorna 18th January 2018 at 9:09 am

      That happens. Kind of what prompted this post. Hope your daughter enjoyed her time in England!

      • Reply Lutheranliar 18th January 2018 at 1:23 pm

        Yes, she did. And she wore the heck out of the coat, which made me feel (somewhat) better (!)

        • Reply Lorna 18th January 2018 at 1:55 pm

          Was it a coat of many colors, by chance? (Had to go there, apparently. I did try to stop myself.)

          • Lutheranliar 18th January 2018 at 2:02 pm

            Hahahahaha!!! That would have been so cool. But nah, it was (and is — she still wears it) boring ole camel

  • Reply Ami Rose 12th January 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Some lovely tips here. I have family in Australia and New Zealand so I will definitly consider these tips!

    Ami xxx

  • Reply fashionandstylepolice 12th January 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Great posting tips here. I post a lot so they would come in handy.

  • Reply Megan 12th January 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Magnificent tips. I will use these! Thanks for posting 🙂

  • Reply Kara 13th January 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Great hints and tips. I try and avoid sending things abroad now though as it costs so much

  • Reply Steph Renovation Bay-Bee 15th January 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Great tips, I only have one friend that is abroad so I’m clueless on this subject!

  • Reply Mama Luana 17th January 2018 at 11:06 am

    Super helpful tips! I ship gift packages to my children abroad once a year, sometimes I forget things. But I put postcards in an envelope because I usually send a tiny gift with them (a drawing or a charm). 😉

  • Reply Marie Klaer 3rd December 2019 at 11:15 pm

    Please tell me more, about what website to order online and have it shipped to Brussels. I live in the US and we always ‘mail’ something at the holidays. I just want to click and have it shipped directly to them. What websites are best. Thinking a household item. Decorative blanket, pillow, candle,… Is Amazon good for this? I tried Amazon a few years ago and I don’t think my family ever received the gift.

    • Reply Lorna 4th December 2019 at 9:16 am

      Hi Marie, I’ve used Amazon and just changed the delivery address, but that doesn’t work for some things. I’ve also used Borderfree. They go by stores/brands available, and you can choose places to ship to in the top right corner. Belgium is on the dropdown menu. Hope that helps!

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