Mailing your stationery through USPS can be tricky as guidelines & rates are constantly shifting. It’s always good to make sure you have the correct address, postage & method of mail processing in order.
Below are some tips & tricks to help your mailing process go as smoothly as possible. When you’re invested in your stationery, I want to help you ensure the least amount of returned or damaged mail & maximum amount of mail enjoyment. There is magic to be found at the mailbox!
Including the correct address is very important. Even with a correct address, postage & doing everything right, mail can still get returned or lost. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to include the sender’s return address — either on the back flap or in the upper left hand corner of the front of the envelope. The back is where the flap goes, the front of the envelope is where you write the recipient’s address & stick the postage.
PRO TIP: If the entire address other than just the recipient’s name is in fancy script or funky lettering, a “non-machinable surcharge” could be incurred by some post offices, since the machines won’t be able to read the address. For these types of mail, it’s ideal to request hand-cancelling.
Hand-cancelling is ideal for invitations with additions that make the envelope bulkier, like wax seals, ribbons or belly bands. This ensures that the precious mail doesn’t get ripped in a post office machine.
To use hand-cancelling, you can check with your local post office to see if they’ll let you do it yourself, or just include in the upper left corner of your envelope / post card “HAND CANCEL” & see info about additional postage below.
2. Making Sure You Have the Correct Postage
Most letters under 1 oz. (like Greeting Cards, Save the Dates & Invitations) can be mailed using a Forever Stamp. Bulkier letter-size envelopes over 1 oz. may need additional stamps. For heavier letters, you can use multiple Forever Stamps or a Forever and some smaller cent stamps. You can weigh your mail at home using a postage scale, or have your stationer (me?!) do it for you.
2 oz. Stamps are also available. International letters must use an International Stamp. Square or special-shaped envelopes require a non-machinable “Butterfly Stamp.” Post cards require less postage, so they can use a Post Card Stamp!
For the post office to hand-cancel a letter, an additional surcharge around $0.24 is usually required (as of June 2023 … check rates), so it’s important to include this in the postage as well.
All of these types of stamps are available for purchase at the post office or on the official USPS store site, https://store.usps.com/store/results/stamps.
Current USPS rates are listed here: https://www.usps.com/ship/first-class-mail.htm.
Pro tip: You’ll have more stamp design options to choose from if you source stamps online. See “2. Choosing the Right Stamp” below.
3. Choosing the Right Stamps
There are sooo many postage stamps out there to choose from! New ones, old ones, small cents, big cents, pretty ones … ugly ones, the list goes on. If you want to use a stamp to send mail, make sure it is unused. It’s ok to use more postage than you need, but mail will not be sent with insufficient postage.
So — where to start?! If I want to keep it simple, I start with the official USPS online stamp store online. Shipping is usually free and only takes a few days. The site is a bit clunky, but it’s trustworthy. The post office sells stamps, but they are limited in options & you’ll have to stamp everything there in the lobby area.
The official USPS Stamp Store has all the stamps there that are currently on the market directly through USPS, but they won’t last forever, hence why people collect stamps. If you see some pretty Forever Stamps you like, stock up! You can keep them as part of a collection or you can sell them later for higher than the face value. Forever Stamps never lose their value.
If you want to source some vintage stamps from a collector to match the style of the item you are mailing, look on Etsy or eBay. They have all kinds of discontinued stamps in a variety of beautiful designs that are sure to WOW your mail recipient. These can also be a fun way to add extra postage if needed.
Pro tip: You’ll end up paying more for postage if you are purchasing vintage or collectible stamps at higher than face value (value of the postage itself).
4. Mailing Directly from the Post Office
This is especially important for larger quantities of mail or if local mail pickup in your area isn’t always reliable. When mailing from the post office, you ensure that your precious cargo at least reaches one part of its destination.
When mailing high volumes at the post office (like 25+ items), I like to spread out a couple piles in different mail slots. I don’t know if this actually helps, but I feel like it does. It’s also wise to allow sufficient time for some of the items to be returned to you for reasons beyond your control like a recent change in a recipient’s address, the busy-ness of the holiday season, or Mercury Retrograde.
Pro tip: Try to have everything ordered & placed in the mail at least two weeks before Mercury Retrograde.
5. Sending with Love
Whatever you drop into the mail contains energy. How are you feeling at that moment? I like to send love & gratitude to my recipients (usually). If you’re sending mail for an event, focus on the excitement or energy that you want at the event & the love you feel for the person you’re inviting. It makes for mailing all the more merry!