(NC) Busy holidays can often mean a stressful shopping experience. Searching for and buying the hottest gadget in town or the latest style for that picky teenager may be tough, but finding a reliable shipping company to deliver your packages safely and on time shouldn’t be.

“With the explosive growth of ecommerce, we’re handling larger shipment volumes every year. As a result, we see some really interesting customer packaging,” says Sandra MacLennan, vice president of customer care and retail at Purolator. “To continue to keep our customer promises, we stress the importance of shipping early for on-time delivery and proper packaging to help avoid any damage.”

Here are a few packaging tips:

 Wrap all items individually using appropriate materials, such as bubble wrap, foam peanuts or air pillows. These materials should be at least three inches thick. For items with sharp edges or fragile items, add cardboard inserts to protect the edges. Do not use newspapers, twine or tissue paper for cushioning as they do not offer enough protection.

 Avoid previously used boxes. They lose strength over time and are unlikely to provide adequate protection throughout the distribution process. Choose new and durable shipping boxes from shipping centres or office-supply stores.

 Place precious cargo in the centre of a box. Make sure all items fit well and are not protruding or compressed within the box.

 Do not apply glue, masking tape, cellophane tape or opaque tape to seal your boxes. These materials lack the strength needed to keep the package intact. Instead, use three-inch-wide plastic, pressure-sensitive tape to close all boxes, making sure all edge seams are taped.

 Be sure to stick the shipping label on the largest, flattest surface of the box. Then double-check the accuracy of the sender and receiver information on the shipping label. When necessary, attach a label to indicate that a glass, liquid or heavy-weight object is enclosed. Lastly, keep a copy of your package identification number for easy tracking.

Choose a reliable shipper that will provide you with options to ship online or schedule a pickup. Alternatively, drop off your shipments at one of the company’s locations or drop boxes.

More information is available at purolator.com.