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Atlas Insider: Handle with Care

March 13, 2022

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  • A bouquet of helium filled balloons

    • An enormous box that held a single shower curtain tension rod packed at an angle. I thought it showed a lack of imagination:)!

      • I helped my mom & her husband figure out packaging to ship a homemade cheesecake 1/2 way across the USA. It arrived intact!

        • My husband orders fishing lures online. Tiny bags of of j hooks usually arrive, burrowed in the bottom corner seam of an enormous box. When it arrives, it’s like a big box of absolutely nothing.

        • HA! I thought I was alone. I sent a tofu cheesecake to a vegan friend on the other coast during the last month of her pregnancy. Dry ice was involved…it arrived a bit wilted but edible.

        • I received a recliner in a 2x2x foot cube shaped box that seemed to be about one half the size of the chair I expected. It turns out to be a surprisingly comfortable place to sit.

      • A hugely long and commodious carton containing one roll of Christmas wrapping paper.

      • A comment on an oddly shaped received or shipped item –
        I received a very heavy, long but only about 6” in diameter (tightly wrapped) package – once unwrapped and the ties released – this ‘thing’ began to come to life and slowly opened to a king-size mattress. I was very impressed with this shipping method.

    • A complete set of China across the country. I had to use so much packing material it was ridiculous and still two pieces broke.

    • I received a quite large padded envelope, from a shipper we all know. It appeared empty but contained a tiny package of 5″ size 0 dpns.

      • I carted on foot at the post office and shipped back a queen size mattress, rolled up, in its own gigantic box

      • Same experience, same shipper. I ordered US2 bamboo straight needles that came in a huge, not-very-padded envelope. I thought they’d be cracked but they were fine. Whew!

    • A big puffy quilt of my daughter’s.

  • It was a drying rack that mount on the wall. It came in a box that was put into a very large box for shipping. I kept pulling out more and more packing materials. I thought someone sent me a box full of packing material and forgot the drying rack

    • A kiln. It came on a pallet, lid and stand boxed separately and heavily taped to the top of the main package. It came off the truck with a ramp and the driver wheeled it to the top of the snow packed driveway, very worried that there was no man to help unload. The driver and I dismantled the add-ons and carried them inside. We had poured styrofoam to cut away, packing paper and the heaviest cardboard I have ever seen. Filled two large garbage bins. Then we shifted it off the dolly and lifted it up three steps onto the porch. We took a breather before getting it over the edge of the doorstep and into the foyer. «You’re stronger than you look,» the driver told me. Filled another large garbage can and three full size blue boxes before everything was unpacked. None of the delicate kiln brick was damaged. It was special because I was the labourer. Another notable was the rolling mill (for precious metal) that came from India packed in grease.

      • Yes! I once took a bead kiln in my suitcase to Ethiopia. The customs officials were not 0eased.

    • A used spinning wheel. The person I bought it from did a masterful job of fitting (probably repurposed) foam chunks and bubble wrap around it.

  • A mattress. My cats love the brown paper so that gets a second life. They also love the box so it gets used by them until it’s recycle time.

    • A cowboy hat which fits this way in the box, but not that way. Twirl it a bit, nope. Flip it upside down. Fits one way, but not the other. Finally had to get, imagine this, a HAT BOX!

  • I tried to ship a jigsaw puzzle from an APO address—this was many years ago. The shape was no problem, but I was told I couldn’t ship anything that rattled! No amount of package stuffing would keep a puzzle from rattling. These days bubble wrap becomes insulation that shelters plants wintering in the garage.

  • The MegaCorp That Shall Not Be Named But Stole Its Appellation From A Tribe Of Women Warriors sent me one oral thermometer in packaging large enough to contain a Shetland pony (sadly, no pony).

    • Yeah, Amazon does that kind of wasteful packaging:-(

      • I received an empty recyclable brown mailing envelope. Apparently it had not been sealed properly and the beautiful yarn fell out- hopefully to be taken care of in a new home. The New England yarn company refunded $$ right away when I sent her photo of envelope, so I was happy to order from her again a few weeks later.

        • I had similar happen with video games I ordered last Christmas.

    • Always enjoy your columns and applaud your commitment to better packaging. I hate when I get something delivered with way too much packaging, especially if it’s not recyclable. I recently sent two pairs of baby mitts and was determined to make the package small enough to go by letter post. I had to align them just so in a bigger envelope and fold it over and then squeeze out all the air and tape it flat. I made it, though I ended up being 1g over and into the next price category. Just a touch too much tape!

      • Kathleen and DG, I’m with you! I’ll stop ordering from companies that do the weird massive box/tiny product/tons of packaging thing (Target, I’m looking at you. Amazon, you’re end-stage capitalism incarnate and I stopped ordering from you ages ago). WAY too much recycling/garbage in the world to begin with. All of the yarn companies I order from do that thing where they gently squish the yarn side-by-side into a bubble mailer that’s usually exactly (or almost exactly) the right size. I really appreciate it. They’re the ones who get my business.

      • I received bees in the mail. No extra packaging and the post office is very happy when they are picked up I have shipped honey to a neighbor who gave me her bees when she moved. I used all recycled packaging to send the jars and the arrived intact

    • Never had to ship something awkwardly shaped, but once I received a spool of thread (not traditionally shaped, had a wider base than the thread on it) in a small (yet way too big) box, with lots of paper. I sent a picture to the company to suggest they rethink shipping options.

    • Thanks for the chuckle!

    • Same sender. Pack of embroidery needles in large box!

  • I overnighted a dozen two-foot cuttings from a fig tree to my mother in law. Basically 12 dead sticks with a damp paper towel in a Ziploc bag on the ends. UPS took my $$$ and even asked if I wanted to insure them.

  • Donna Reed replaced Barbara Bel Geddes in Dallas?? When did that happen??..no packing surprises nor need for sock yarn. Just shocked at the news. But I did almost order that bird feeder. Will you be getting more in?

    • I don’t remember the year but the original Miss Elly either was sick or wanted to retire. Then the gal who replaced her was on the show for like a season or two and I believe she died in real life, so next thing the viewers knew the Original Miss Elly popped up again and finished the show? Not a 100% if she lived long enough to see Dallas end or if she too passed before the series ended.

  • I made large paper window stars for Xmas 2020. I had to fold them in half and line w cardboard, then carefully pack w presents in a large box. For 2021, I saved the star gifts for local friends only.

  • My dad once mailed me a coconut from Hawaii. No packaging required, he just wrote the address on the outer husk!

    • We got 2 new cell phones and each one was in its own box placed into another bigger box . Nothing else to stop the smaller boxes from shifting . Total of four boxes and one box was big enough to fit a small kitchen appliance like a toaster . Crazy.

      • I had a co-worker who ordered ready meals to store in the work fridge & the amount of packaging was ridiculous.

    • Some time before I even met him, when my husband was an undergrad, he mailed a girlfriend at another college a pumpkin the same way!

    • I had a friend mail me a coconut from Key West same way address and a stamp !! My post lady was so amazed.

  • While not really awkward, I am always amazed to receive live plants through the post in great condition.

    • Yes! I’m fascinated by the clever ways they can pack plants with nothing but cardboard. And kudos to MDK for considering packaging carefully. There are puffy envelopes puffed with paper shreds rather than plastic bubbles, nice because they can go in recycle.

  • I gave my grandkids trekking pole for Christmas. They arrived from amazon rattling around in a humongous box. I broke the box down and made cardboard envelopes to repackage the poles. I’m with you on TOO MUCH packaging these days!

  • The metal parts of an electronically controlled 16 harness loom

  • I think a pushchair was probably the most awkward thing I’ve ever posted!

  • First of all, THANK YOU for making reducing packaging your mission! I’m at the point now that any company that sends me the least amount of packaging and makes it all easily recyclable is likely to get repeat business from me!

    I had to ship a ceramic bowl and pitcher my grandfather made across the country to myself. I was so grateful it arrived intact!

  • I guess it’s good that nothing comes to mind? There was an incident with a puzzle that was to be a Christmas gift. Delivery had left the small brown box in just the right spot in front of the garage that I didn’t see it. This happened not once but twice!

    • I mailed a tube of glow sticks to my niece once. Just put a label straight on the tube. It was so fun!

  • No a packaging response per se, but – given the current situation, would now be a good time to remind folks of the MDK “Mitered Crosses” afghan pattern with proceeds going to Mercy Corps?

    • I have been thinking this, too

      • I just bought it and am about to cast on…

        • It’s super awesome that businesses are donating proceeds from specific products- the more donations the better, and that’s some good leverage! But you could also just, you know, donate straight to Mercy Corps. It’s faster, and there’s no overhead. Or World Central Kitchen. Or the Ukrianian Red Cross. So you could buy the pattern and knit, which is great, and ALSO donate straight to the organizations.

  • A 16” drum head was tricky to pack – wide, very thin, and fragile.

  • I bought a didjeridoo as a souvenir from a shop in Sydney that sold Aboriginal artwork while honeymooning in Australia. I honestly thought it would be a nightmare to ship, but lovely folks at the post office didn’t bat an eyelid and got it all safely packaged up for us so we could send it home.

    (Buying it was an amazing experience, too. There were about a hundred didgeridoos of various sizes, all hand-painted, and surrounded by signs instructing you not to touch or play them. But when the shopkeeper heard me explaining to my husband about circular breathing, and how I’d never mastered in with my flute despite many attempts, he asked if I wanted to try out the didgeridoos. It was a lovely moment of one musician speaking the language of another. He demonstrated how to play, and I tried out five or six that we liked the look of until I found one that was sized nicely for me.)

  • I ordered 16 skeins of yarn from a company and received 16 individual boxes with 1 skein in each box!

    • Oh wow, that takes the cake (of yarn!).

      The most strangely shaped package we’ve received was an electric cello ordered from China. It came on a slow boat (literally took over a month—and this was in 2012 before shipping went to hell), in a foam-lined box inside a falling-apart & taped together shipping box shaped like an old-fashioned child’s coffin. Boy did it get some funny looks from the neighbors!

  • Flowers, both for planting and cut flowers. Neither came in boxes I would have expected.

  • My ex husband once had an engine block delivered! I know that should have been the first AND last red flag!!!

    • My husband has done that once or twice. However, he’s a keeper.

  • No packing stories here. Just an addictive sock knitter !!!

  • A swimming pool solar cover and it was wrong size. UPS delivered but questioned size in the return. Thankfully receiving desk person was able to sweet talk them into the return

  • I don’t recall having to ship anything very awkward at home but at work, it can be frustrating. My boss is always trying to figure out the most efficient, least expensive way to ship. We sell various types of ephemera and art supplies. Antique ledgers have become a hot item for us and they can be challenging to ship.

  • It was the package I overnighted at great expense to my son, who was living alone in a new town at Christmas, and I wanted him to get a present on time. It got there before Christmas but he didn’t pick it up for a week.

  • During lockdown I ordered a lot of gym equipment. I’m still feeling bad about the weight of the, well, weights.
    Kettlebells — 30 pounds, 20 pounds, 15 pounds. Weighted bars, 30 pounds, 20 pounds. I wanted to hide from our mail lady every day.

  • I once packed up a Horseshoe Crab shell I found on the beach to a friend in England. Figuring out what to put on the customs slip was interesting. The postal clerk thought it was sushi!

  • I have received yarn shipped in Tyvek shipping bags. The bags weigh nothing and are indestructible.

    • Yeah, it’s very common and I approve of those for any all-yarn order. Because our orders frequently include sundries that are fragile (wooden needle tips, row counters, etc) or bendable Field Guides, though, it’s a solution that is’t as all-purpose as I would like!

      • Felt envelopes for misc?

  • The worst is the company that consistently ships a 4 inch box of vaccine vials wrapped in bubble wrap in a box. It’s placed in a 24 x 20 styrofoam cooler packed in plastic ice-filled blocks. Awful in so many ways.

  • I don’t receive or send many packages, and those have been mostly rectangular, thankfully.
    I have had issues with different weights of items in the same box. Opened one to find cat treats sprinkled everywhere, because something else in the box crushed the treat containers. My cats were pleased:)

  • I ordered a “shelving system” for my closet – including wire shelves and all the brackets to attach them to the wall. The package was very tall and very heavy and the delivery person placed it upright against a closed garage door. Thank goodness for delivery notification or we’d have hit the garage door opener and the car would have been assaulted by the giant, heavy box!

  • My mother once shipped an Easter basket via Grayhound bus, in the days before shipping was a thing.

    • Thanks for the reminder of our family’s Greyhound story. My grandmother shipped my parents’ tiered wedding cake from South Dakota to Georgia in 1948. The baker built a see-through crate around it and shipped by Greyhound. It arrived in perfect condition, and somehow still tasted good, or so I’m told.

  • First of all, go you! As for packing—flowers are the hardest for me. I was not really a Dallas watcher back in the day, but just heard about the Donna Reed/Barbara Bel Geddes feud on NPR. Apparently Barbara wanted to come back and Donna wouldn’t leave.

  • A bike

  • Most oddly shaped thing I’ve had to pack and ship myself was the amigurumi llama I sent to y niece for Christmas 2020. It was a lot of work to make so I didn’t want to squish it. The dragon I made for her in 2021 would have been a lot worse (being a long, skinny dragon), but thankfully I could deliver that in person.

    As for oddly shaped packages received, I didn’t think they would be that hard to ship, but I have learned that mail order curtain rods will always arrive bent.

  • A trainer to attach to my bike. It was a triangular box without being a pyramid. And it was awkwardly heavy on one side. It was not a box that played nicely or could be stacked with others.

  • I crocheted 2 18×18 inch pillows that needed to be shipped to Florida from New York. They didn’t weigh much, but finding a box big enough to ship them in was a project itself In the end, the shipping cost was 3 times the cost of making them because of the size of the box! The recipient liked them very much, though, so all’s well that ends well.

  • Tried to return a wrong-sized rolled up blackout shade. Shipping cost more than the shade. My kids can live with a sliver of sunlight.

  • I will miss those lovely cardboard boxes of yarn but am all in for anything more recyclable!

    • I use my MDK boxes to wrap gifts of knitted items for the rest of the family – grand nephews especially – and they love unwrapping them. They are always the perfect size!

  • Kitty litter. Giant boxes too heavy to lift.

  • Thank you for your commitment to reducing packaging. My pro tip is that I save mailers, flip them inside out and use them again, sealing them up with packing tape. Saves money, and saves packaging.

  • An elk antler that I had found. This was “back in the day”. Too large for postal service. Had to ship it via Greyhound Bus to my parents’ town and arrange for them to pick it up. Before cell phones of course. Worth it. Still have it.

  • I shipped three cast iron frying pans to my nephew in Arizona. Handles are the devil! But USPS flat rate is a godsend!

  • Out of the blue, my dad mailed me a Celtic lap harp he had built, in an over-engineered harp-shaped cardboard container — multiple overlapping layers, enough tape to roof a shed. Dad built the harp as an experiment and then didn’t know what to do with it. He figured that since I played the guitar I could cope with a lap harp. Surprise! Fortunately he included a Teach Yourself Celtic Harp book.

    • We had a Smoke Alarm that malfunctioned and was broadcasting “Emergency,Evacuate,Evacuate”. We could not shut it down. The company told us to pack it up and send it back…. And not to worry about the alarm sounding off!We were pretty sure the Post Office would not accept a screaming package.
      After four days wrapped in a towel in an ice chest in the garage ( to muffle the sound), it gave up and was returned.

  • I received a shower caddy in a box three times its size.

  • We did not ship this, but we carried a wooly board awkwardly home from J & S in Shetland after a knitting cruise one year, wrapped in bubble wrap and slung over the husband’s shoulder like a quiver full of arrows. No problem: we walked from the cruise ship to the Port Authority in NYC and took a bus back to Portsmouth NH. Aside from being very awkward (Fortunately DH is 6’4” so tall enough not to drag it on the ground) the trip took a bit longer than usual as it was the day the POPE visited NYC, so lots of detours…….and lots of looks at the weird man lugging it.

  • Thank you, DJ, and all the rest! Excess packaging makes me CRAZY!

  • It’s a point of pride for me to get as much value as possible from a USPS flat rate box. Anything goes.

  • An art kit for my granddaughter that had a wooden handle on top — the dang handle really made it awkward to pack. Kudos to you for insisting on finding better packaging options!

  • Mattress in a box is fun to watch puff out when it’s removed from the box…

  • Not me, but parents. They shipped my son a nice bass guitar they acquired very cheaply. Used—so no box. My dad built his own box with wood and cardboard. We had to pick it up at the UPS facility—they wouldn’t bring it to the house. It did arrive in perfect condition.

  • I ordered 8 items from Jimmy Beans Wool, most of which were small. One of which was The Best of the Bunch – Just Knit It. Their take on the flowers given at the Olympic games. The kit came with wires for the flower stems. The shipping box was a triangular tube. I have never in my life seen a box that shape before. The other small items were in a plastic bag. But there was an interchangable needle set that was curved around the smaller bag. I really would have rather had a flat normal box filled with packing stuff rather than that.

    • Do you have a link to the flower item? I can’t find it. That sounds interesting.

    • Never mind, I found it with a Google search, not their website search, and they no longer carry it.

  • As a kid I experimented with mailing different items with no packaging to see uf it would arrive. A wrapped cheese slice (no envelope, address on the cheese slice) arrived no problem. Really like how you’re trying to reduce packaging. Just hate getting packages in boxes that are too big with lots of filler.

  • Yoga mat rolled up in a large, long cardboard box, which I cannot just throw away. Will find a use for it. Good only in that it did not have or need any padding. Odd assortment of baking supplies in an enormous but shallow box, none breakable, huge amount of big bubble wrap (no longer recyclable in these parts) as filler. They must have been out of smaller boxes. I will find a use for it before caving to recycling. The worst: a leaking container of faux sewing machine oil in a torn plastic bag.

  • I shipped my grandma’s antique wicker sofa across the country to my brother years ago. It arrived safe and sound!

  • We ship also and I so understand the frustration of how to do pack for safe arrival with a minimum of packing material. At least we can save any packing material that arrives at our home and reuse it. And box sizes VS item to ship – ACH!! Don’t get me started!

  • When my children were young, my brother enjoyed sending them food products through the USPS using minimal packaging. The highlight: a classic tv dinner in a manilla envelope that arrived at our house with green peas leaking from an envelope corner.

  • A 3ft candle

  • The archives at the maritime academy where I work has a coconut that was mailed without any packaging. Address was carved into the shell. Probably sent from a training cruise in South Pacific.

  • Ordered a set of ink cartridges for the printer. I was gobsmacked when the four colors of ink were each shipped separately, even though sold as a set.

  • I hate to be wasteful, so I recycle most packaging. Packing paper works great when I put it through my paper shredder and into the compost!

  • A friend once sent me a present (can’t remember the present) inside a LL Bean duck boot – the boot was the packaging, with stamps and address stuck all over the outside of the boot. Ah, the care free shipping days of the early 1990s.
    Can I come work at MDK World Headquarters warehouse when I retire and move south? Never has anyone made warehouse work sound so fun.
    And seriously, I really appreciate your work on better packaging. You-Know-Who has the most obnoxious packaging, and I try to avoid them as much as possible because the packaging depresses me.

  • My brother used to work at a postal store. He had lots of stories of shipping sofas and other weird things. The most challenging was a grandfather clock but he packed it successfully and it arrived intact. I have not mailed anything that involved and if I had to, I would call my brother.

  • A 3 ft tin Christmas tree from Mexico. The wrapping was almost as spectacular as the actual item. Think several rolls of bubble wrap, 2 of the hugest ebay boxes ever and tape, tape, and more tape. Saved the box for about a year, then I decided to keep the tree up year round, so disassembled the packaging and slowly got rid of it.

  • Giant circular Light bulbs by mail during the pandemic. Really bad idea. ‘Nuff said.

  • Our daughter in law decided to send us a Christmas wreath she made out of plastic balls. It was light enough, but bulky… it coat more to mail than it did to make!

  • Camping chairs—not strange, but probably the biggest box I’d ever received in the mail.

  • My Dad made a lamp out of popsicle sticks. It was of a certain height with an attached finial so it had extra height. Then it had the wider popsicle stick lampshade. It took some creativity to box and protect for shipping

  • A sculpture of a barracuda chasing some flying fish in metal. It has a base and each fish is on a 5 ft pole so they all spring about. The barracuda is about 3 ft long. I had to ship it to the Turks and Caicos.

  • I appreciate the way plants are delivered in the mail. And my husband is very adept at creating a box. He created a gift box for a frying pan that I was able to gift wrap. (not to be mailed, just delivered in person) But it would have worked as a shipping box. Good work DG.

  • My mother sent me a wok and a suit to wear for an interview. The suit was folded up and placed in the wok. A creative solution

  • Most complex packing- orchids. The flowers were wrapped in cotton, Kleenex, paper towels, Kraft paper….
    Unwrapping was like nesting Russian dolls.

  • My current project is taking huge ADU units that are 11’ wide and barely fit under overpasses to locations and then taking a crane to put them in somebody’s backyard. So if you need any packing help, I think I can lend a hand!

  • Baby chickens!

  • Just yesterday a new apple tree came by FedEX.

  • A pair of snow pants from REI, sent in a box large enough to hold two pairs of boots in their own boxes. An envelope would have sufficed.

  • I mailed slate cheese boards to my board of directors for our holiday zoom party. They fit in a USPS box fine but the packing stressed me out!

  • Thank you for trying so hard to use the least packaging possible, both for a cost as well as environmental aspect. It ain’t easy!

  • Every year at Christmas time I package my homemade cookies and ship some of them all over the US to friends and family (some get hand delivered) but trying to fit cookies in decorative tins without breaking them, and then finding the right size box is my shipping nightmare every year. In the end it’s worth it for the reaction I get from everyone!

  • I recently sold and shipped some of my late father’s duck decoy collection (with my mom’s permission!). Sometimes it was just one, a couple people wanted two of them. And lots of them had long pointy beaks, fussy feather things on top, so high maintenance. And they all managed to arrive intact except one, that was tragically beheaded. Imagine my good fortune that that one had been purchased by the decoy carver’s son – who was so gracious and understanding and seemed almost excited to be able to put the skills passed down from his dad to use.

  • I was determined to fit an afghan knit with Rowan big wool into a priority mail box. Pretty much had to sit on the box to get it taped closed.

  • Probably a couple of books sent in much too large a box with oodles of filler.

  • My husband was given a couch-sized leather rhino from Fortnum and Mason for his 21st birthday and it was shipped to us in DC from the Isle of Wight, UK. The shippers had a lot of questions and asked us to take their picture with it, which we did, of course. His name was Horace and he graced our living room.

  • When I was in college a hundred years ago I had a roommate whose mother would ship us a fresh baked cake on the Greyhound bus from her small seaside town. I imagined the love as she handed the cake in a box without any packing material to the driver (whom she probably knew) with instructions to keep it upright and safe. We would meet the bus on our little Main Street. The happiness!

  • A banjo

  • I mailed an elephant-shaped rocking horse once, cost a small fortune. I appreciate the less packaging effort!

  • beach umbrella,

  • A 2×4 inch zip lock bag of orchid food in a 10×14 inch “priority” box, sheesh!

  • IDK about awkward but I once got a 2 pack of button batteries from Amazon that came in a huge box full of air pillows

  • The rear seat headrests for my granddaughter’s 2006 Volvo after she moved from MI to CA in 2020.

  • A snow shovel

  • A really large and tall fragile tea pot. I shipped it and it made it safe and sound!

  • A set of wooden spoons. I finally remade a box I had by cutting height and length of box. What fun!

    • My mom, who passed in 2014, had 2 African granary doors. One, we knew she gave away, the other ended up with me. But my Brooklyn apt is short on wall space-I never hung it, and last year I asked my sister if she wanted it, which she did. The was totally wonky shape-I had to cut down an enormous box I had and then reform it with mass quantities of packing tape into it’s sort of trapezoidal parallelogram shape which was exacerbated by multiple layers of bubble wrap. It did get to KC, where my sister lives intact, now hanging in her place, as if it’s always been there!

  • A handmade oak baby crib, unassembled.

  • College care packages. It was always a challenge to pack all the goodies, all the necessary items and other things and make sure nothing moved too much or melted or became crumbs. It was always interesting to hear what made it to our daughter still intact.

  • I am going to order 10 skeins of Atlas just to see if they do show up in a box as small as DG says!

    The most awkward package I ever got was a box that tried to encompass a mechanical ball winder I ordered. It arrived with one of the metal guide arms sticking out the corner.
    Have tried a few times to repack it, and nope, it just needs a bigger box.

  • A coconut with a message written in it

  • A three legged wooden stool!

  • I ordered a ridiculously expensive “pink” pineapple and the box it came in was amazing, you think I joined a gold club, but not one recipe to go with it. Pineapple was tasty.

  • When I was a kid my grandparents sent me sand dollars from Florida — carefully but frugally packed in a box hat had held their Christmas cards, padded with an old cloth handkerchief. Nine were broken, my mom used the handkerchief and I kept the sand dollars in the box.

  • A smallish coat, pile of mail, 3 pouches and 2 medicines in a 14 by 12 box , success but it was close!

  • A cello to one daughter and a violin to another daughter. I had the opposite problem you describe – packing them carefully enough that we could be certain these precious instruments would be safe. They both made it home safely. Thanks for all you do at MDK. You all have made life better for me during these difficult times.

  • I have ordered from a company and had a huge box arrive containing one very small box inside. Not sure of the reason. i have also shipped my brother a colonel in our military so liquid that was not especially allowed so I had to be sure that there was no airspace to allow for a sloshing sound. I then filled the box w/ chips of every variety for cushioning

  • An artwork I was shipping to a customer, partly yarn partly handmade paper face shape, long. narrow, fragile. Four attempts to pack without crushing. But she sent me a picture on arrival in another country, all fine. To my amazement.

  • Thank you so much for considering packing material. The planet loves you for that. My son moved to Hawaii and left boxes of his stuff in our garage so every time I mail him a package I pick things from his garage-storage here to fill up the box

  • An antique Hand Skill weaving loom…from Virginia across country to California. Concerning the plastic in your packaging, I whole heartedly believe there is too much plastic in the world, BUT when I recently received my box of Lopi yarn for the Destination sweater, the box was soaking wet (it was a rainy day but still don’t know how the thing got THAT wet). Anyway, I was heartsick when I saw the condition of the box, but my yarn was perfectly dry and unscathed. That was one time that I was thankful for a plastic bag!

  • With the postal service literally puncturing boxes with sharp objects to see what’s in them I think you may be replacing damaged skeins of yarn if you package them with no space. I have yet to get a complete undamaged box in the last 4 years. Yet those plastic mailers come to me perfectly intact.

  • Love it that your thinking a lot about needless packaging. The bane of everyone’s existence.

  • A sleeping bag. The postal worker at the counter actually sent me home and said pack it smaller, you will save money!

  • My husband caught salmon in alaska that we had to keep. Shipped it overnight with blue ice packets.

    • We go fishing in AK every few years and had our frozen fish shipped home without any trouble, until… one year the zip code was written incorrectly on the shipping label. Instead of overnight to California, it shipped to Atlanta and sat in a huge shipping crate for a weekend (in August) – ugh! By the time it reached us a week late, it was a smelly package of mush. Oh, so awful. Now we take the frozen fish home with us as extra baggage…

  • I run a retail store, but we sell outdoor equipment, so I have packed all sorts of unusually-shaped things. My least favorite combination is two bike wheels + a curved road-bike handlebar, as despite having 15 different box types, none will fit all 3 items in it.

    Runner-up is wooden canoe paddles, as they require a wide, long, but thin box, plus a ton of packing material to fill up the end with the handle, and STILL get damaged in transit all the time.

  • A very large triangular Thai pillow that had a lounge cushion attached

  • The most awkwardly shaped item I’ve ever mailed was an exhibition catalog and a commemorative cardboard fan with a wooden handle, that was sadly just a little larger than the catalog, so that if you inserted it into the catalog before wrapping, the fragile edges would fold over and get ruined. I had to construct the perfectly sized rigid mailer to protect it.

  • Sending a spinning wheel to Germany was rather a challenge. I was part of a team who sent shipping supplies I had from receiving various items. The especially useful things were odd shaped cardboard pieces to help secure the wheel and take up space. By the way, it was two wheels and one was a great wheel!

  • Ordered an eBike for my husband online and when it arrived it was huge and weighed a ton.

  • Probably my yarn swift that came packed diagonally in a huge box with lots of paper

  • I packed a 1965 Schwinn coaster (petal brakes) bike (wo the handlebar basket). It needed to go from CA to OK for the boy to use getting around college (OSU) without being stolen. I also shipped a surfboard from NorCal (where it was stored) to SoCal (where it could be used).

  • I helped my mom package an enormous metal yard art crane to send across the country to my sister in California.

  • A small box of shower curtain rings in a big box surrounded with mounds of plastic. Made me furious!

  • I need self striping sock yarn

  • Treadle sewing machines do not fit in standard size boxes

  • I received a ceramic solar water fountain for Christmas one year. However, the black drainage rocks came first in a separate box with the gift card. It looked like I was sent a box of coal for Christmas! I couldn’t decide if it was a joke or not until the water fountain arrived much later.

  • A shovel. I was stumped as to how to wrap it and took it to the UPS store, where the guy slapped a label on it and called it good. Not even a bag or tape around it. Talk about minimal packing!

  • When I was in college, I always knew when I got a letter from my dad because I would get a postage due notice. He always sent an envelope of hot chocolate mix in the letter which weighed one ounce. He never put enough postage to cover it. I called him and drank the hot chocolate while we talked. Congratulations

  • It is not the awkwardness of the packing, it is the number of packages that arrive as the result of 1 order. I don’t make large orders, usually, because money is tight. But, last Christmas, I made 1 Amazon order and received it in 4 different packages, all with extra packing paper/bubble wrap/etc. I commend you on your efforts to reduce our shipping costs and our costs to the planet. Paper/cardboard is good as I can recycle that but plastic in any amount is a waste. Thank you!

  • Received an unassembled office chair. Luckily, it did come with tools to put the thing together. However, I lost days of productivity while I put the thing together!

  • My guild used to collect for Santa Train. The knit objects were no problem, but the donated toys could sometimes be very loooong! I did a lot of creative packing — diagonally from top corner to opposite bottom corner — thank goodness for stuffed animals and knit objects!

  • I received two 8 ft. long led light bulbs to fit in old florescent fixture. The first time I received the bulbs the outside box had been folded almost double in the shipping. It took more than a month to get the company to send out replacements.

  • We shipped home a used Health rider exercise machine along with Christmas presents filling in the holes between. It actually wasn’t so much at the time to ship it $150 (2005). It was a huuuuuuuugeee box and I ended uobrsrelybusing said machine. It was a valiant effort in saving a gym membership lol

  • I once received two placemats in a box big enough to hold a mega flat screen TV. Inside there was no packing material. Just two sad, lonely placemats.

  • Definitely a very inexpensive sculpture (from TJ Maxx) that my daughter treasured. She decided that she had to have it in her college dorm room!

  • An Imari vase sent to my sister. Hurrah for championing fewer shipping materials!! My recycle bin thanks you and so do we!

  • Not awkwardly-shaped, but awkward. Recently, I received a package from an aunt which contained 4 large Christmas elves, 2 unwashed men’s shirts, an old handbag, a pair of children’s snow boots in pink glitter and a broken clock. I had to call her and make delicate conversation for a while to see if she’d lost her mind. Turns out UPS got her box mixed up with someone else’s. But I still can’t imagine who’d be waiting impatiently for that broken clock.

  • An orange with name , address, and postage stamp directly on the rind!

  • I ordered kit of blocking wires and pins that arrived in one of those long, thin triangular shipping boxes, which looked as if it had been used to beat someone about the head and shoulders. The box was basically broken in half, but had been haphazardly taped back together. The blocking wires were worse for the wear, and so the folks I ordered them from kindly sent another set at no charge.

  • Eggs. I have ordered various types of fertile hatching eggs from all over the country. Sadly, they sometimes end up scrambled. Shipping is not kind to eggs because they get bounced around and the air cell can detach, so even if the eggs look intact, the fragile embryos sometimes don’t make it. Geese are notoriously difficult. The best do-it-yourself shipping for eggs includes individually wrapping them in several layers of paper towels and bubble wrap, then packing them snugly in a box, then packing that box suspended inside another box with some squishy packing material that will absorb vibrations and being dropped or tossed or sat on. And then pray that the box arrives within a few days, because delays also can prevent embryos from developing. As can excess cold. Yarn would be a good packing material from cushion eggs. No one has yet sent me eggs packed in yarn.

  • I used to work in a large bank office. We had those yellow interoffice envelopes. Someone sent a donut in it as a joke. Not pretty!

  • When we moved back from Asia my travel spinning wheel was packed unfolded and in an enormous box. The darn thing folds up tiny and I was so frustrated we spent more on shipping it back than I spent buying it.

  • My mother shipped me an antique wall clock from England to the US that my grandfather had won in a swimming competition. She had the guts taken out of it and I had to have it reassembled. In this case it could have used a bit more padding. It worked well after a kind gentleman did the work on it. Not easy to find people who work on old clocks these days.

  • Just received a box of four bare root rose bushes. Already planted!

  • I ordered some wire plant supports and expected they would be sent in a mailing tube. But, no, they were sent in a giant cube of a box with filler. Lots of filler. Luckily, the filler was brown paper which is recyclable as opposed to styrofoam which is a menace.

  • Furniture with assembly required always seems awkwardly packed!

  • Back before shipping rates were astronomical (and when my employer let us use the company’s UPS rates), I used to pack big boxes of Christmas gifts for my inlaws. It was always a 3D puzzle, with the added consideration of anything breakable going towards the middle (jars of homemade jams!l) plus trying to keep the whole carton fairly balanced weigh-wise. I have moved to gift cards – SO much easier, all around.

  • A 200 lb inverter for my RV. Yes Amazon….. my delivery man was THRILLED.

  • I got a beautiful orchid in the mail for Mother’s Day packed in a box large enough for the child who sent it.

  • We ordered a sound bar that arrived in perfect condition. A couple days later, we received another one. The order was somehow duplicated even though we were charged only once. My husband tried to refuse delivery of the second one but was informed by the delivery driver it was “easier” just to keep it. Easier for him. The second one sits unboxed in our basement a year later with both of us irritated that it became our problem to figure out what to do with it. (We’re not “sell stuff online” or “have a yard sale” people.) Silly in the grand scheme of things I realize, but it’s the first niggly bit that came to mind. Thank you for another fun read and giveaway!

  • A crystal pitcher. It arrived safely though!

  • A handmade canoe paddle.

  • I was sent a spinning wheel in a box that it was clearly not suited to. . .and no packing. The wheel arrived damaged, had parts sent to New Zealand to be fixed, and took months to get to working condition. Very sad.

  • A really beautiful cigar box guitar for my son-in-law – it seemed like a good idea at the time.

  • I ordered some baking dishes for a shower gift. The box was twice the size it needed to be, but they saved on the packing materials. Lol. The dishes arrived “scrambled.”. Sometimes packing materials DO serve a purpose. Agreed, yarn shouldn’t need any!

  • Live plants received, as someone said, very creative packaging and arrived safe and ready to plant. I do love receiving squishy bags of yarn!

  • Husband once bought a front grille for a 1936 Oldsmobile he was restoring. It was heavy, came in a box without any packing material and was broken.

  • When I retired during covid-19, I needed to return my laptop. I was sent a box inside a box to use as the return. So I put my computer in both boxes and shipped it back!

  • Whole heatedly support packaging minimizatio. I receive a 3 month supply of medication in small bottle packed in an envelope that would easily hold 6 skeins of yarn.

  • My 60 piece ceramic chess set. The biggest piece was 5 inches.

  • Artwork-quail family made of copper about 3.5’ wide that I mistakenly thought would fit it my suitcase. My girlfriend’s husband meticulously packaged it up by building a right-sized box out of a TV box, wrapping the quails in tissue paper, then bubble wrap, then styrofoam and finally the custom-made box before he shipped it to me.

  • Someone bought my collection of Interweave Knits. I had been collecting them since the very first issue way back who even knows when. It was so heavy that The box I had it in fell apart at my local post office! The brought them all back to me in small batches which I repackaged in padded envelopes.

  • The most confounding package I ever received was a 24” x 24” very light weight cardboard box. What did the large package contain? it was a tiny bottle of eye drops, that required refrigeration. Inside the cardboard box was a 3” thick styrofoam box, many cold packs which were tied around the tiny cardboard box which contained the tiny bottle of medication!

  • A baby cradle that my dad hand made out of wood.

  • A standing lamp!

  • The most horrible to pack and send was a 27″ in diameter lace pillow. It also had to be padded so that it wouldn’t shift and break the roller holder. Horrible! Special made box, LOTS of those awful peanuts and some paper. Not going to be shipping that ever again! ha ha ha…

  • The most difficult item that I ever shipped was a spinning wheel….but Fed Ex took care of it (at great expense snd much paper stuffing!)

  • I want to win that yarn! I’m also a packaging recycler so no matter how you send it, I’ll reuse it. I do like those padded (?with shredded paper?) envelopes.

  • A bicycle my husband ordered from ebay.

  • I operated a retail kitchener store. We had ordered 12 marble pastry boards which arrived packed in straw in a wooden crate. We had to pry the box apart within the delivery truck as we were unable to lift or even move it due to the weight. We had similar problems with cast iron cookware.

  • a 12x12x12 box, full to the brim with those abominable packing peanuts (the non edible kind), for some loose tea. That could have fit in a small padded envelope. I sucked up the cost and mailed the empty box full of plastic back to them with a letter asking politely (I AM Canadian, after all) for them to rethink their packaging procedures.

  • I ordered a face serum, 2 oz. The box it arrived in could have held a small child or 30 skeins of yarn. LOL

  • Bar Mitzvah invitation to my daughter attached to helium balloons that floated to the ceiling when box was opened! I never get anything exciting!!

  • I tried to manufacture a box to send a travel golf bag to my grandson. Exacto knife in hand and card board boxes and loads of tape. Sadly, my efforts were in vane. Off to Fed-Ex so the professionals could manufacture a box.

  • A walking cane with a rams horn for a handle

  • A desk lamp

  • A basket ball and a hockey stick!!
    I think it’s brilliant that y’all are considering the impact of unnecessary packing materials. It’s shameful to waste paper and interior materials for mailing yarn which as you do appropriately pointed out doesn’t require that much protecting!!!

  • Croquet mallet

  • I did not do this, but heard about it from my brother. Someone he knew shipped a “taxidermied” fox. This may also be an urban legend.
    Thank you, DG, for your commitment to minimize packaging and make it more eco-friendly. As a crazy, tree-hugging environmentalist, I appreciate this!!!

  • A beautiful handmade basket shipped from my daughter who was coming for a Christmas visit. Also in the box was a fully inflated bike tire which held the basket perfectly safely and which was used on her bike when she got here!

  • A wedding cake (small but traditional) that I froze first and upon taking it out of the freezer, I rushed to get it overnighted to the bride and groom.

  • standing Italian-made mirror, 5 1/2 feet tall, a 3-part fold-out, which required a special pine crate made to ship it to me, from Florida to Oregon…weighed over 100 pounds & looked like it could have made a useful casket.

  • Baby chicks!

  • Oof…helping my dad move a 6 X 2 ft irregularly-shaped redwood burl coffee table.

  • My mother purchased a sculpture of a hunched-over man on a mule. It was made by the dad of an old classmate of mine. After my mother passed I offered it to my classmate who lived hundreds of miles away. I took it to UPS and asked them to pack it.

  • A million years ago when I was working for a home retailer, I had a woman purchase a six foot metal giraffe as gift. Not only did it need to be packed for a safe arrival, it had to be gift wrapped “nicely” because the giver did not “want to look like an idiot walking into the party with that thing”. Ummmm!? Anyhow, lots of cello and a big bow followed by a bunch of bubble wrap. Hope he at least went to a good home.

  • After my father had retired and moved to Florida he was able to immerse himself in his beloved hobby of woodworking. All family members were gifted all manner of things from whatnot shelves to grandfather clocks. Perhaps as creative as his woodworking was the cardboard containers he crafted to ship them in. I unpacked one carefully wrapped walnut item only to have the a carving knife tumble out from between the layers of cardboard. He obviously didn’t realize he had taped it up with the layers of cardboard as he was crating it up.

  • I ordered a hat (not knitted, but felt with a brim) and it was bent and stuffed in a tiny box. Completely ruined; what were they thinking.

  • I received a glass pitcher with glasses shipped by Tiffany’s for a wedding present. There was literally no padding of any kind and I opened a box of glass shards

  • I was living in Eastern Europe for a year, and my friends sent me a chicken bone from our favorite restaurant—just stuck it in a sandwich bag, tucked it into a letter, and sent it. I could still smell the barbecue sauce!

  • Learned how expensive international shopping is the hard way when I sent a baby blanket to the UK. Worth it, though!

  • Another entry for the “small item in the extra large box” category: two nylon dog collars in a 12”x14” box with minimal packing. I appreciate eco-friendly packaging…the cornstarch packing peanuts are fun to dissolve and pour into the yard, though I have to keep our dog away from them because he thinks they’re delicious.

  • My son plays tuba and moved out of state. Yes, a tuba. Big, heavy, awkward, and believe it or not, they do dent.

  • I mailed a box of autumn leaves to my daughter-in-law, who was serving in Afghanistan.

  • A vintage German cradle shipped from Hawaii. A special box was made for it. The cradle has been the first bed for many family and friends babies before it’s next trip to the East coast to grace a new family.

  • I sent an inflated beach ball covers with well wishes for one of my colleagues fighting cancer. The post office employees didn’t skip a beat when I went to mail it. The letter carrier had fun with it. Smiles all around!

  • I’m not sure this fits the terms of the question, but once I tried packing a bottle of coconut rum in my suitcase on a trip back from Puerto Rico. I wrapped it in layers of clothes, which I then put in a zip lock bag. My suitcase arrived home smelling like rum, as did all my clothes. The bottle had broken.

  • Live bees for bee keeping. I found it amazing, but very efficiently packaged and no plastic.

  • We once had a food order shipped and among the boxes was one with a solitary pepper rolling around. Felt awful for the waste of the box, even if we recycled it.

  • I once had an Etsy shop and sold adorable, but large, wooden snowmen. Did not think about shipping as early in the process as I should have!
    Kudos to MDK for all efforts to reduce packing waste!

  • Back in the late 80’s early 90’s, I would mail VHS tapes of soap operas to my mom who was living in Korea at the time. After, my husband was stationed in Germany, my mother in law, who did not watch the shows would tape them and then mailed them to me. I would then send the tapes to my mom, who ended up sending the tapes back to the States so my mother in law could record over the tapes.

  • A wooden elephant shipped from India – 3 feet long, 1 foot high – that we had purchased while on vacation. It arrived crushed to smithereens and somehow my husband was able to reassemble and refinish it! We treasure it.

  • Last summer when all the stores supplying crafts for kids and there were no parks allowed in another province, I shopped at mine and bought bird houses galore along with supplies to make crafts. They are hard to wrap but put them in a LARGE box and the kids were “overjoyed”. I would love the sock yarn but already have field guides 1-19. Thank you very much.

  • I love getting puffy padded paper bags! I soak the label off and reuse them to send my smaller knitted items. My grandkids & I make a game out of how many times we can reuse the same bag.

    • How do you soak a label off of a paper bag? I just apply a new label over the old, or use a large marker to scribble out the old address and a smaller marker to add a new one.

  • Only DG can make packaging an entertaining, humorous read!

  • I had a vendor send me a plastic Turkey through the mail without anything other than an address label tag attached. He was trying to sell me on the idea of sending messages via unique items through the mail. I can’t imagine the USPS was happy!

  • Every year I mail out dozens of Xmas cookies. I’ve spent years working on a method to ensure as many as possible arrive whole. I save grocery bags and junk mail flyers all year to use as packing materials, but I still feel guilty.

  • One time, Amazon sent me a small item in a HUGE box. I was incensed. What a waste. So, I emailed a picture to their customer service. Didn’t hear back, but, it made me feel better.

  • It was we who shipped them. 40 orchids when we moved from NC to CA. We didn’t take a hint from the orchid sellers who package them smaller to avoid the fees you’ve described. It cost over $400 and orchids got damaged. Only 11 of them left. 🙁

  • A friend shipped one 4 gigabyte flash drive with family photos in…wait for it…. An old shoebox. The flash drive was in a ziplock bag…and it rattled around because there was no padding in the box. I’m sure that opened some eyes at USPS, because it was obvious the box had been opened and resealed.

  • A very large bouquet of roses, lilies, and lots of greenery. Much appreciated, but packed in an oddly shaped container with so many bits and pieces to protect the different parts and most couldn’t be re-cycled. Made me kind of sad. 🙁 And DG, you make my day…

  • I once received a part for a piece of laboratory equipment, which they had placed in a box, and then put foam-in-place foam on top of it, with nothing between the part and the bottom of the box. Fortunately, the part survived.

  • Don’t remember what it was, but a long thin box (maybe 4x4x20”) packed into one of the largest boxes I ever got from Amazon, with one piece of brown paper shoved in to keep it from bouncing around, lol.

  • Once a year (Christmas Eve) I make gumbo for our family reunion. I froze some in a plastic container and had to figure out how to pack it for my son’s flight home. Wrapped it in many layers of foil and plastic wrap then put it into a zip lock. The gumbo package was in good shape after a 2 hour flight.

  • btw, ULine supports antiquated ideas and donates heavily to political candidates who seem to be unpopular with the MDK crowd, so the less you buy from them, the happier I will be.

  • an old family photo that just was a tad too big for any of the envelopes in the post office. I finally took 2 and made my own rather than boxing it.

  • It had to be picked up at the airport – my son’s brand new upright double bass! It was in its custom sized soft padded case (he uses every day), in a white bass-sized and -shaped hard case covered with stickers from all over!

  • DG, I want to thank you for the fast and careful shipping you and your team have done for my orders. They have always arrived quickly and very well packed. I think you and your team are great!

  • Fishing pole.

  • When we lived in Chicago, my East Coast mother-in-law was convinced we could not buy high quality chickens and sent two raw chickens by mail. Unfortunately, she sent them special handling instead of special delivery, and they took a week to arrive. Poor Mail carrier! Straight to the trash chute! Keep up the packaging vigilance!

  • My aunt, who lives in Paris, sent me my wedding gift. She told me that there was a surprise in the box. When I opened it, I found a very strange method of packing: it was plenty of a kind of sand or little grains that kept in place 5 skeins of yarn and a silver service (spoon and fork). But once everything out of the box, I discovered the surprise. It was a box of couscous that exploded during the travel. Not a new method of packing!

  • A ceramic sculpture 4 ft. long. Lots of bubble wrap.

  • New kitchen drawers that were delivered by truck and dumped out in front of our garage. We didn’t see them until the following morning since we both had arrived home late from work and weren’t there when they came. It was raining hard so, they not only were wet but they were also all busted up!

  • A 24”x 28” x 2” hand crafted walnut cutting board. My husband shipped it express. Hmm. Shipping was 3x the cost. Lol. Special package arrived just before Santa that year.

  • Gotta be a car part. Which part? When? Who knows… I live close enough for my dad to help when the car breaks down, but not so close for him to make a trip with no solution. Soo… broken bits get removed, packed in some fashion (I’ll admit to just taping reusable groceries bags around a few) and then bussed over.

  • My sister sent my son a stick horse. It came packaged with the head securely in the box and the stick poking out of the box. Of course, this was 40 years ago and the shipping rules were less stringent.

  • I can’t even remember what the object was, but it was very tall and thin, so I ended up “Frankensteining” two long FedEx shipping tubes together

  • A rocking chair (child-size but still akward)

  • Mailing cookies to my son from Florida to New York. That are frosted cut-outs so I want them to still look beautiful when he receives; he couldn’t care less of course! Lots of various packing materials are used for these little babies.

  • I ordered 27 sets of crochet hooks for a knitting retreat. They came in two equal-sized boxes. There were 24 kits in one box (separate, not packaged in a block) and three in the other. I took them to the retreat in one box, as the three fit in the first box perfectly well. Thanks for saving the planet, KnitPicks.

  • I ordered a ceramic butter dish from a well-known company. The small sized box contained NO packing material and the bottom of the dish was broken. The replacement dish was packed the same way with the same result. Butter dish #3 suffered the same fate. Finally, a customer service agent promised a butter dish wrapped well and #4 arrived safe and sound. Anyone need a lid for a butter dish? We have 3 extras!

  • I am thinking about selling a cribbage bench but the packing is making me sob.

  • I shipped a cute, felted hobby horse to a new nephew. The addition of the “stick” on which to mount the head quadrupled both the box and the cost. My husband recently received an 8′ aluminum ladder in a made to fit cardboard box. I was impressed.

  • A box about the size of a ream of paper arrived on my porch. Inside was a single can of olives.

  • The most awkward thing I ever mailed was a huge lamp, followed by dried flowers. I wouldn’t have mailed either of them, but my college roommate had been suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor, and had to leave suddenly. She had been drying all these flowers at the time, and had found this huge lamp. Thinking she might want them as she recovered, my friends and I boxed it all up and mailed it to her.

  • An oversized birthday cake that my daughter ordered from our local bakery after they moved to Dallas! It ended up costing more than the cake and because of bubble wrap etc. it required a huge box! Anything for those grandchildren. I sent her a list of bakeries in her vicinity to order from this year!

  • We bought a large (8 foot) toboggan for my brother-in-law’s family for Christmas one year. It turned out that they were unable to meet up with us at Christmas as their kids were sick. Cost us $75 to ship!

  • A trombone in its case to my son in South Korea. Thank god for the Pack ‘n Ship store!

  • An Irish Blackthorn Shllelagh , four boxes of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies and a five pound bag of Geechie Boy Grits to my son in Hong Kong for Christmas. It cost a fortune to ship given the box needed to accomodate all of the different sized objects

  • When I was a child in California, my Florida relatives sent me a shoebox punched with airholes. It contained a live baby alligator!

  • A rickety wooden catapult that I’d built from a kit.

  • I used to work in a scientific research lab and would regularly receive a giant box with one small item in it with either lots of paper or packing peanuts. Every time one of those giant boxes arrived I would say bad words. At least we had a recycling program for the cardboard, or someone needed boxes for moving.

  • Twelve antique champagne coupes to my daughter.

  • A larger than like ceramic sculpture of a peacock in full display mode.

  • There was a time I made altered books and did a collaborative project where I shipped my book off and received people’s books. Man, those books got unwieldy!

    I live close to 3M world headquarters and have to ask, have you tried their Flex and Seal? Genius. https://www.scotchbrand.com/3M/en_US/scotch-brand/tips-uses/flexandseal/

  • A sewing machine lightbulb was sent in a box big enough to hold the entire sewing machine

  • A package from Walmart that was huge, as big as a frig. But it only held TP, applesauce, and beans. WTH?

  • Fishing rods….

  • An oddly shaped wooden sculpture with a pointy side that would not fit in a normal box

  • That would be the 1930s student desk my mother mailed from Ohio to me in California. She shipped it in two boxes- one for the seat/stand and one for the desk top. Made it with no damage!

  • Well I didn’t pack it but the weirdest thing I received was a garden art metal sculpture of hollyhocks about 5 feet tall with multiple branches with big saucer shaped leaves and one giant blossom. It sits on a metal stand 34” square. Getting all the packing tape and the bubble wrap off of that thing took me over an hour. But I love it and it proudly stands in my garden today. I can only imagine the horror the employees at the mail center experienced when my mother brought that thing in for them to ship.

  • Stainless steel reeds for my 40” weaving loom!

  • My dad wrapped up tickets for us to go see my new cousin one Christmas. He put a round container of brads just too big for the box to close completely in one end of the box. Of course the brads rattled whenever we shook the package, which my mother did frequently. We had a really great trip!

  • A big plastic baby bathtub. It was ridiculous! The box was gigantic and the shipping cost more then the tub.

  • A box in a box – had to crush the corners, not pretty!

  • Shipped an electric organ/piano to my son in the airforce

  • A stained glass window I made. 18″ x 48″.

  • No strange size packages but I ordered a coffee table that came in a box with no padding and it was damaged. FedEx took it back and another one was sent. This happened about 3 times before we gave up. I felt bad for the FedEx delivery woman to have to handle this heavy package so many times.

  • Hand woven rug, post office only had triangular boxes.

  • I sent a chopping board in the shape of Lake Superior to Wales! I had to take apart three boxes to make one box that would fit that board! It actually got to the destination in one piece.

  • One time my daughter tore open a box of cereal, slapped a 25 cent stamp on it, and mailed it from Columbia, SC to Pittsburgh, PA. That was 1990 and a college student’s post card stating she was OK, doing her work and watching her budget. Then there were the coconuts we mailed from Hawaii. No wrapping necessary. Just an address and postage. But, to your point., I recently received 8 new porch cushions from an online retailer. Each was individually wound in bubble wrap and packed in separate over-sized boxes. Our UPS driver had to change his route and come here first, otherwise he had no room for pick-ups. Those cushions could have easily fit into one box – no shifting, breakage, rattling or extra packaging.

  • First of all: That’s the most gorgeous multi-coloured ball I’ve seen in a long time! Sure hope it will be mine. Not to mention your awesome magazine….
    I had to pack up my 60 inch weaving loom with it’s sectional warp beam to ship AND my beautiful antique spinning wheel. Finally called in our carpenter friend for the delicate job. Put in a fleece around the top to pad the spinning wheel. Expensive but they all arrived safe and sound.
    Really enjoy your regular email updates

  • When my daughter was at summer sleep away camp, my husband used to love to be “creative” about the missives he sent…one was written in circles on a tortilla; one was written on the insole of a (single) flip-flop; one was inscribed on a toilet paper roll. They were all stamped and successfully mailed vis USPS. She was absolutely MORTIFIED every time one arrived, as they had group mail call, and the counselors couldn’t believe it (“Come up and claim your TP roll…”)!!!

  • I recently sent some gently used clothes to my transgender granddaughter that probably cost more than all the clothes combined because of the weight!

  • While stationed in Germany, my younger sister mailed me a locally produced porcelain platter. She shipped it in the thin cardboard sleeve provided by the manufacturer, no outer box or padding. By the time it reached me in the US, the contents were in countless minuscule pieces. Fortunately, my sister had insured the item, and I received a handy amount of cash from the USPS.

  • I have no item to mention but appreciate when shippers use air filled long strips of plastic bags for packaging. They are light weight and can be popped and recycled after their arrival.

  • GOOD ON YOU for trying to fix the perils of packing!!! Hardest most awkward thing I ever sent was a (beautiful) 26” diameter ceramic (wedding gift) dish. Never did get a thank you note from the happy couple, so maybe I didn’t pack it well. It was awful pretty tho…

  • A box filled with various sized Nerf guns (for the kids) and t-shirts with bullseyes on them (for the adults) we sent to the Illinois branch of our family for Christmas 7 years ago. The kids had an absolute blast, and we got fits of the giggles imagining the curses the adults were hurling our way across the miles. 😉

  • The oddest packing job I ever received was a Columbine spinning wheel. It’s a tall wheel, & while it is metal, it’s thin, lightweight metal. It was packed so well (& it’s over 30 years old) that NOTHING shifted, & there wasn’t an inch of wasted space

  • Over the years I have sent MANY packages to our daughter all through her college years and beyond…
    She has always had room/apartment mates.No matter what the box contained, I have always used individually wrapped toilet tissue as the packing material. That is always appreciated and “recycled”.

  • We have friends who often order dog food and have it delivered to our house. We don’t have a dog, so the first delivery was a bit of a surprise. What is just as surprising is the company’s insistence on packing two 40 lb bags of kibble into one box and “securing” it with a single strip of wide tape. They generally look as if the box is just for decoration.

  • A German wooden Christmas pyramid for which we made a shipping box. It arrived safely to our daughter’s delight.

  • had to ship once a free standing 4 legged yarn winder…. antique so could not be disassembled. Oh my.

  • A mattress, rolled and compressed.

  • I received a parcel many years ago from my son who was travelling in India. It was a gift of clothing for different members of the family. The package was wrapped in unbleached cotton and stitched together by hand. The address was hand written on one side, It was quite the topic of conversation when I picked it up at the post office.

  • A gardening supply company sent me a wrong order.in a large awkwardly shaped box. It was going to cost $45 to return it. They told me to just keep them. I still have these things I have no use for.

  • I shipped my son’s trombone to him from Pennsylvania to California. It was an awkward packing job and I pretty expensive

  • Many years ago my brother mailed a folded antique wooden ironing board for me to use as a coffee table. He wrote in big letters on the outside of the box “Frozen Whale Tongue”.

  • At one of my jobs, we shipped motorcycle parts–fenders, seats, saddlebags–none of it fit well in standard sized boxes. LOL

  • So glad you are reducing packaging! I send my sweetie pie nephews (in their 20’s) gifts through the mail…it must fit into an envelope and I have been known to take things apart in order to ship!

  • I sent a coconut from Hawaii to my father for his birthday once.

  • Late 50s, early 60s, neighbor went to school at Harvard(from Oklahoma), Sent his laundry home to mom in a footlocker, by Greyhound!!!I am not making this up! She washed, ironed, and shipped back.

  • Nothing weird, but I hate when they pack a box in a box.

  • I recently had to return a beautiful garden tool. Five and a half feet long, hardwood handle, with a very oddly shaped and stabby end. The box it had been shipped in arrived with so much damage I didn’t even try to save it – it was like a surgical procedure to extract the tool. So it was starting from scratch to package that thing for return. There was recycled bubblewrap and cardboard, and a sit-com amount of duct tape. The process reminded me so much of my 3-D Design class in grad school. It could have been my Final Project.

  • My mother once sent me 1 dozen large, heart shaped, artfully iced Valentine’s cookies from her kitchen in Washington State to my dorm in Western Massachusetts. Not the awkardest shape, but they arrived intact, and delicious, which was very impressive. She wrapped them individually in bubble wrap, and “tetrised” them a small flat rate usps box. I repurchase bubble wrap as stress relief fodder.

  • Years ago I received a pair of pierced earrings on a plastic hang tag just tucked into a birthday card, totally smashed flat by a mail sorter and probably cursed to high heaven by the mail person running said machine.

  • We were making plans to ship a mechanic’s tool box across the country. We finally gave up, loaded it into our Focus wagon, and drove it. That was an interesting trip. IDK.

  • A hollow ostrich egg. It was my daughter’s and when she moved away, it was something she wished she had taken with her. I tried mailing it to her with some Christmas gifts. I did a bad job and it did not survive. 🙁 I then needed to go on a quest for another one. Although it just was not the same for her. 🙁 🙁

  • I once received a large package filled with paper. Inside was a keychain – with my photo on it. No packing slip. No note. I thought I was being stalked!! Took me a week to figure out a friend sent it but it was a spooky couple of days haha!

  • A 36lb western saddle.

  • The family story is that my husband’s grandparents packed up frozen pork chops and sent them to his parents. They arrived still frozen. This was in 1950. Mail moved faster then.

  • My life isn’t so exotic. I get boring things like yarn and books that fit in rectangular boxes.

  • A teeny tiny Diamond brooch! Wrapped in lots and lots of bubble wrap.

  • YAY D.G. –I agree! reduce fill. My order can bounce around the packaging as much you like!

  • I shipped a round Dansk cutting board that was 24″ in diameter plus a handle. Packaging was super difficult because of the size. That’s when my husband’s engineering talents came in handy. He’s a cardboard, foam, and bubble wrap genius that met the challenge.

  • A barn cut from cereal box, glued together and painted with names of family members written on the roof. It was made in 1960 by my brother for our train set. When I came upon it in our attic I had to mail it to him, it brought back such fond memories. I found a box that fit very closely then took it to an office store to have them pack in next size up box with a little cushioning. It was so old and fragile but it arrived in tact!

  • My dad had cut down a small cedar tree to make room for other trees and so cut the main trunk it into wee disks that my mom then fashioned into a lovely cedar-scented wreath. They wanted to send it to us for a holiday gift, but it was an unusual size – wide and flat. My dad took parts of larger boxes and made a custom box to ship the wreath in. The box was a feat of engineering for sure! I was actually sad to recycle it (the wreath, however, hangs on the wall next to the piano).

  • A wooden jumper board from Shetland. I had to wrap it in the store, bubble wrap, brown paper and lots of tape. No boxes were long enough. It shipped by boat and that cost as much as the item itself. I was told it could take up to 3 months but I got it in about 3 weeks. My bargain was hardly a bargain after that, but it is authentic and blocks sweaters really well.

  • A balance beam! Thought it would be longer, but apparently folds in half!

  • I ordered a nest of fiesta bowls and they were sent without any packing in a big box. Can we say decimated?This happened twice before being packed in bubble wrap. Crazy!!!!

  • A children’s story book and rolls of gift wrap came in the same giant box. The book corners were all tattered from bouncing around on its journey across the country.

  • A taxidermy deer head, horns and all.

  • I shipped an antique desk from Virginia to Texas for a client. Cost over $700. Not worth it IMHO.

  • We sent a handpainted tropical coconut to our niece. They just put her name and address on it and off it went – no packaging. Turns out she was scared to death of it and wouldn’t go near it. Until Uncle Mark showed up and she went right over, picked it up and delivered it to him with a big grin. She was only about 2 or 3.

  • I received three pens in a very small plastic bag. It was part of a larger order. However, for what had to be a very weird reason that surely had nothing to do with the environment, was packed in lots of paper in a large box that could have contained at least 50 skeins of yarn.

  • During my misspent(?) youth I worked in a Dept store wrapping and shipping. We once wrapped an engagement ring in a filled martini glass.
    Most difficult item to ship was the small person size hand made Raggedy Ann doll my niece asked for one Christmas.
    But always with enough cardboard and duct tape world domination is possible.

    • Filled with a martini? How does that work?!

  • 25 teddy bears there was no economical way to ship them!

  • One small 3 pack of medicine: flat and 1/2 “ x 4” x 9” packed, all alone, in a cardboard box that was at least 18” x 11” x 5” !!!!!

  • We shipped our tandem bicycle to Scotland. Probably never again!

  • A foldable spinning wheel. It folds but it is still awkward in shape.

  • Mattress

  • The most awkward parcel I have ever shipped was blocking wires. I purchased them in Oregon and wanted them shipped to Canada. (not exactly carry on luggage) No problem the U.S. mail handled them perfectly, Obviously, I didn’t have any idea the parcels the post office dealt with every day.

  • We know its spring when the surprisingly noisy boxes of tiny chicks start showing up in the back room of the Post Office, waiting to be picked up by local farmers.

  • A saxophone! Received from a seller on eBay, it arrived in a large oddly-shaped, handmade box, just wrapped in newspaper. Fortunately, nothing was bent or broken, but it certainly wasn’t packed the way I expected to receive a musical instrument.

  • A 36 string Celtic harp was the largest package I ever received. No excess packaging material. No damage to the harp.

  • A ukulele. The box I had planned on using was large & because of this, the cost of mailing was about 4 times the cost of the instrument. So…I cut the box down to the appropriate size & voila! Less shipping & still safe.

  • Am parried to a retired architect who is a master at packing boxes…if something doesn’t fit, he recuts the cuts the box, remakes a box, etc. so there is no extra room and not a lot of extras. As a result, he has a “job” when We need to send something in the mail. It is a treat to watch him figure it out.

  • One of my biggest packaging pet peeves is one I get something small in a large box.

  • A baritone sax that had to make its way safely to Australia. Those guys are big, so the box had to be made up of cutting up and joining other boxes. The padding had to be effective and secure. The instrument could not move. It was a challenge.

  • When I studied abroad, I found these adorable little Christmas cards that I loved and decided to mail home. Unfortunately, while they were a mailable size in the UK, they were not a mailable size in the US (because they were too small). The tiny card finally arrived at its destination in a very scary official-looking plastic bag to make it a proper mailable size.

  • My mom always received lady bugs in the mail! They came in a square box that she kept in the refrigerator. Each week she would release a handful into the garden to eat the aphids from her roses.

  • My Hansen mini spinner, came in the mail in perfect condition. Appropriate box and solid foam padding. It all fit so well that I kept the box and padding just in case I had to send it back for some reason. (Ten years later and I still have not sent it anywhere. Keeping the box and contents just in case!)

  • A wicker, low to the floor chair intended for sitting cross legged and meditating. It was a gift. I was too stiff to sit in it. It cost over $100 to return in, about 20 years ago.

  • A bicycle. That’s a job for the professionals.

  • Some years ago I ordered (not from Chewy) a case (24cans) of cat food. You can imagine my surprise when I received 24 separate packages, each containing one can of cat food. I kept onepackage just to prove to my friends that I wasn’t going crazy.

  • I once had to create custom cardboard rigged-up packages for an over eager assistant sales manager who really wanted to please a customer buying six wooden dining chairs. They could’ve been shipped directly from the manufacturer with the original sturdy packaging, but no. The eager beaver made it seem to the customer that these were one of a kind.

  • I received a skein of yarn from an Etsy dyer which had been vacuum sealed, then sent in a flat manila envelope. Pretty convenient!

  • Most awkward shipping item received or sent is even awkward-er to discuss; if I must, contact me offsite.

  • A vintage Nintendo which I sent to my son in Afghanistan. He got it! Still has it.

  • Just yesterday, received one pair of PJ pants in a box that would have held at least a dozen of them! Thank you, MDK, for being mindful of packaging. I look forward to winning the Uneek Sock Yarn and Wanderlust Field Guide!

  • We shipped an electric piano (not just a keyboard) from Tennessee to Colorado. It was a packing challenge for UPS, and it cost us more than it would have cost us to give our son the money for a new one. But he wanted the one from home.

  • Feeling your shipping pain…I went to send a credit card from LIncoln, Nebraska, to my son in Vancouver, Canada this past week. I thought it would be secure/speedy to send it FEDEX to his work so he could sign to receive it. One letter size envelope, one credit card, and a single page Mom note wrapping up the credit card…FEDEX wanted $66. Shocking!

  • A mirror I bought in Morocco. The frame had points and it needed to go onto the plane with me or I was afraid it would break.. So I covered it carefully with a pillow case and put it into my carry on. When it was time to leave it, was confiscated for possible use as a weapon. .
    I still can see it in my memory….

  • An enormous tapestry, mounted and framed, almost the width of a king sized bed. It was one of the few things we inherited from my MIL. The first shipping quote was $2000–overnight with Fed-X. I pushed the shipping agent to find slower and cheaper alternatives, and felt relieved when we ended up shipping it freight with no particular time constraints, for $495. Worth every penny, but that is the most I have ever spent to ship something.

  • I received a lamp with a glass shade and lightbulb from my sister. She had disassembled it and wrapped everything in lots of bubble wrap. It survived in tact and I was able to reassemble it and I use it for my knitting because it’s very bright snd has a full spectrum LED bulb.

  • I carried a hand made long handled broom on an airplane from British Columbia to Tulsa

  • A box of rocks. My late father’s sizable rock collection shipped from Arizona to a rock hound enthusiast in Seattle Washington! Thankfully, he paid the shipping cost .

  • The most awkward package that arrived was the Christmas Leg Lamp. But I thought you were going to ask us for suggestions on low impact packaging. In leu of that I thought I would share my solution to packages that arrive in bubblewrap. I take the bubblewrap envelope to my local thrift store to reuse when selling china or other breakables. There, problem solved.

  • Oh, for sure it was 14 kgs of yarn I bought on vacation in Argentina. I took it to the local post office and mailed it to the US. I learned how to speak Spanish real quick. And the yarn made it eventually!

  • The most awkwardly shaped shipment I received was not in the mail but by UPS. It was a large car part that was actually was misdelivered to my house. I saw it right as the driver was starting up his van to drive away and I ran half way down the street waving my hands and yelling to get the delivery driver’s attention, but to no avail. I didn’t know the neighbor’s phone number, so I walked to their house and rang their doorbell letting them know their very large very heavy car part was on my front porch.

  • I’m sure lots of people have done this, but it was shipping home made chocolate chip cookies to my son in college. The most successful was using popcorn in with the cookies to keep them from breaking.

  • A more than 3 1/2 foot drum, from Congo, and a carved village protector nearly as tall, in another humongous box. Each sent by my beloved SIL. The drum was repackaged for some danged reason, ultimately amused the local Dept of Ag folks as signs of bugs became apparent. Hide beetles, arrrggg and ugh. Ag guy was a drummer, kinda bereft. “Nice drum,” he said, wistfully. Otherwise, having worked in “Gift Wrap” for a big department store in my young adulthood, I met some remarkable packaging challenges. We’d a phrase – “I’d like to work in ‘Send’ tonight…”. Yup, the stuff that was to be mailed and frequently required a custom box. Fun!

  • The most awkward thing to package fr shipping was a armadillo from Australia’s to U tied States. The tail wasn’t shaped to fit in the standard shipping boxes!

  • A violin

  • For his 50th Birthday, we sent our son 75# of BBQ brisket and ribs from County Line. We chickened out and, after freezing them all solid, packed them in a Coleman cooler. Then, instead of paying FedEx $600, we bought two SWAirlines tix and flew with the ribs to San Jose. The cooler flew free as extra luggage.

  • That’s easy— a large plastic rain barrel. The UPS man sprinted up my driveway with his arms wrapped around the barrel. He stood it on the porch and took off for his next stop. The only remains of the package was the address on a piece of cardboard torn off the original box and taped to the barrel.

  • The worst problem is trying to mail something small but irregular, not quite a letter but not quite a package.

  • A top contender is the shower pan we received — 5 times — from one of the big box hardware stores. For a fun pandemic home project, we took out a cast iron tub in a bathroom renovation and replaced it with a certain shower pan that had the lowest profile. Little did we know that the 120-pound thing would come virtually unprotected, save for some shrink wrap holding it onto a pallet and thin (meat tray thin) Styrofoam on the corners. Multiple times, it was received cracked and broken at the corners or edges. One was delivered upside-down on the “good” side with pallet on top. One never made it to us as even FedEx knew it was a loss. The 5th delivery was a winner though, and we got the bathroom done!.

  • A mobile of my brother’s that I had fixed. Took it to UPS and was told it would cost a king’s ransom. Got it back home only to discover that I had cut off some bits in closing the car door… it did finally arrive intact, having been fixed and refined.

  • I received a 36” loom still mostly put together! The shipper had fashioned a Franken-box out pieces of several different size boxes. It was humongous and very oddly shaped. Good news was that it set up pretty quickly to be enjoyed.

  • I always am amazed how the cheese factory down the street from my childhood home (Wisconsin, of course) can ship cheese to my brother in Japan that arrives so fresh that the cheese curds are still squeaky.

  • I sent a pair of puffy shearling slippers to my sister and filled the dead space with a bag of home made cookies. She was pleasantly surprised when the box arrived.

  • a Rustic Love Vienna yard sign (Vienna, VA group sells awesome heart signs to raise money for the food insecure in our community) — decided to ship one to brother for Christmas (12×12 wood panel affixed to 3 ft wooden stake)

  • I made my father, who lived in Puerto Rico, a tall, oval willow basket with a handle from one end to the other, magazine basket for his reading material. No UPS service to his address. The price was outrageous, so I ended up visiting with it in the overhead bin. DG, not a solution for your bird feeders, though you could see the world. I always appreciate minimal packaging!

  • One year I asked for, and received, a curved fireplace screen I saw in a catalog that turned out to be way to busy looking. Even though I had the original packaging, it was still woefully awkward to repack and mail.

  • A pyramid

  • The day I opened a gift shop that advertised that we wrap gifts, a customer walked in with a guitar wanting to have it wrapped for a gift for his girlfriend. Without a box, so I had to create one. Yep, made a box, had to then wrap it and then put it into another box so he could have it shipped to her at college. Challenge accepted! After that, nothing will surprise me!

  • A 30″ diameter Paiste gong

  • An American Girl doll I sent to my niece. I could have shipped a nightstand in the box they used!!

  • A rocking chair! I finally gave up and took it to UPS for packaging.

  • We sold the convertible roof to our 64 Corvette snd had to ship it! Strange size!

  • One of the worst to ship was a loom, so big I could barely pick it up. I should have seen it as a sign to keep it.

  • My husband’s parents bought a second home near where we live. A great deal of furniture has been shipped to our house in their absence. It invariably arrives when said husband is out of town….leaving the empty nest wife to slide and tip the mattress/chair/table/etc into the house.

  • I’m not much of a shipper, but I must admit, there is a lot of wasteful packaging out there! Yay for you to try to minimize this!!

  • My most awkward items shipped? It’s a tie between a spinning wheel and a ham radio amplifier (large and very heavy but also surprisingly delicate).

  • I shipped a quilted dinosaur to my granddaughter. Haven’t bless the fellas at Parcel Plus!

  • I packed home made chocolate chip cookies in popped popcorn and sent it to my boyfriend in Vietnam during the war. They ate everything and the cookies stayed in one piece…mostly.

  • Never have I ever shipped an odd shaped package.

  • I ordered a grabber, one of those tubes with a claw on one end so you can pick up things without having to bend over or stand on a footstool. It came in a 3 foot long cardboard box, and when I opened it up the grabber was broken. Probably something heavy fell on the box, and broke the tube. I got a refund from Home Depot. That mailing box didn’t protect it at all.

  • We received a used drum set that we bought off ebay ages ago.

  • Not packed by me, but painfully received, a cast iron cornstick pan, thrown into a much too large box with one piece of mega bubblewrap…not wrapped, and entirely without bubbles when it arrived…and broken in two. Caste iron, unbelievable.

  • It was a cello that comes to mind. I had to ship my sister’s cello from Utah to Oregon because it wouldn’t fit in the Uhaul

  • My spinning wheel. There is a reason the box says (in big letters) SAVE THIS BOX. It contains multiple weirdly shaped bits of cardboard so the whole thing fits securely.

  • I mailed a wrought iron window cover from an old castle in Germany to my home in the States. Cost a fortune but it was worth it!

  • My tree order this year was 6 ft long, two boxes cut into pieces, then reconnected as the long box with about 80 feet of wide packing tape. Took me longer to cut into the box than it did to plant those six beauties.

  • We shipped 4 pieces of cabbage patch doll furniture from MI to TX. It ended up being trucked to the tune of $800. What I won’t do to preserve memories. Crazy.

  • The most awkwardly shaped thing I have ever received was when my son was going to learn to play the violin I was sent a violin in a violin case enclosed in a extra hard duty cardboard box. As I recall the box was shaped like the case so no extra paper enclosed.

  • A computer—don’t even ask how much it cost to send!

  • A saddle.

  • I’m constantly amazed by all the wrapping required for Covid Tests. The shipping boxes just keep getting bigger and the actual test boxes smaller. Such waste.

  • A blow gun from the Amazon, with curare-tipped darts!

    No, seriously! My parents were living in Venezuela (during an international assignment with Ford Motor Company in the late 1970s) and I got to visit them for a week. We drove down into the interior, stopped at a trading post, and I was able to buy the blow gun and darts, along with a woven grass quiver to hold the darts, and a beautiful woven basket.

    Imagine getting these through International Customs at JFK! We were able to find a mailing tube equivalent at the local fabric store (a tube used to ship bolts of drapery fabric), wrapped everything carefully, and I had to shepherd the packages through the Customs office at the airport in NYC.

    Lucky for me, I got there at dinner time on a Sunday, staff just wanted to shut down to eat, so they waved me through with a “Yeah, right, lady. A blow gun?”

    The items in question have been demonstrated in our yard. The blow gun does shoot darts very effectively, but I did not have the heart to aim at anything more lively than a tree!

  • I don’t remember the Donna Reed thing. It doesn’t sound good. We sold eBay for a long time, so there were a lot of weird things, antique dolls and steel guitars, but I’m guessing the western saddle was the weirdest to pack.

  • Thank you DG, I needed a good laugh — so enjoyed this post! A big fan of paper packaging and reusable mailers, I agree with everything you wrote about packaging and reducing excess filler. Great earth-friendly and economical initiatives! A caramel apple shipped from a local candy store to me at college. It was in a box within a box, packed carefully so the apple didn’t get jostled around.
    It arrived intact; even the stick was still in place, and yes, it was delicious.

  • A cricket ball, from New Zealand to Japan. I also had to buy it which led to much confusion.
    Suffice to say the cricket ball was x-rayed and examined by various custom entity but made to Akita and my son was able to teach his pupils about cricket

  • Yeas ago I ordered a fancy tea set from Russia, and when the postman brought it, my heart nearly stopped! It was wrapped in a heavy paperboard tied with string. Amazingly, not a broken piece or chip in the bunch. I can’t imagine how.

  • A gallon of maple syrup rolling around in a large box with nothing to keep it in place! The box was a mess but surprisingly no syrup leaked.

  • When my son was away at college, he sent me a toy rabbit stuffed into a manila envelope. As you pointed out, the rabbit came through just fine because it’s nice and squishy. The envelope was filled out to Mom at my address. I have also saved the envelope because I thought it was wonderful that the USPS cared enough to deliver a lumpy envelope addressed to some nameless Mom.

  • A gateleg table that was being moved cross country from Corner Brook,NL to Calgary AB by train. A lesbian friend built a box around the table which we shipped upside down, stuffed with other oddly shaped objects and several bed pillows to prevent too much movement. Everything arrived intact!

  • Blocking wires came in a cylinder that came in a rectangular box…. ?

  • Well it wasn’t to ship but to bring back on the airplane-a terracotta bird bath! It was in two pieces, extremely heavy. We wrapped that thing in a ton of bubble wrap and miraculously, it made it home without breaking.

  • I shipped a full set of antlers to someone who couldn’t take them on the plane. He found them on a backpacking trip in Wyoming. I drove them to California and shipped them to the east coast.

  • My O-Cedar Spin mop! That Kay told me to buy. It arrived in a box with the handle poking 6” out of the box, as if the packing person said screw it I’ll just tape around it. BTW I love that mop!

  • A rocking horse for my sister’s baby.

  • Not any extra packaging, thank goodness, but it “whinnied”! The local stampede was on so I thought the whinnying was coming from the radio until I got home and unpacked the package. It was a stuffed horse for my baby son, from my brother, who’d left it turned on!

  • A three foot long tube that contained blocking wires. Yet when it arrived it contained only the paper filler.

  • Received a 25lb bag of flour in a giant plastic bag in a cardboard box that was large enough for the bag to rattle around. When it finally arrived, we were glad they had thought to put the flour in a plastic bag as the contents were outside of the original packaging!

  • I needed to mail a spinning wheel

  • I can think of anything too drastic at the moment. But honestly trying to out anything that isn’t papers or something into those cardboard priority mail envelopes at the post office is a nightmare!

  • Any kind of loom. Once it is disassembled to being as flat as possible pieces, there is still just something that sticks out or pokes through somewhere! About the bird feeders- maybe pack them in a bag of birdseed- then the box? Then at least the size requirement will permit the weight requirement to match? Oh no- another shipping conundrum!!

  • A Tyrannosaurus rex helium ball that was around 2 feet to my nieces second birthday party her theme was princess dinosaurs … it didn’t float which surprised me and the look on her face when she got it was absolutely worth the frustration ton getting it to her!

  • A box of raw wool-had to use the vacuum cleaner to suck out extra air and shove it in the box

  • I bough a zero-waste detergent through amazon, that came up all binded up in a huge amount of bubble wrap… Zero-waste???

  • A set of four-foot wood and nail rakes for marbling paper. They came in a long triangular box that is still the only thing they can be stored in.

  • Received skis

  • There are some people who appear to lack common sense when it comes to packing items for mailing. Once I ordered a ceramic plate from a person in England. It arrived in a plastic bag with no other packing whatsoever. The package made the sound of broken pottery when I picked it up. What was this person thinking? They even seemed surprised that I complained!

    • My husband mounts and balances his own motorcycle tires so they arrive by mail. 99% of the time they come unpackaged with the address label taped right to the tire. But once…a HUGE box with strapping tape that didn’t quite keep the box intact. Tire was in there but the box was a hot mess. He cuts up large boxes into sheets for lying on in the garage when changing the oil in the cars and motorcycles. Uses them over and over.

  • A trombone. Mailed it to my FIL who was on a mission trip to Africa. He decided he wanted to start a band for the kids in the area. Packed the case full of medical supplies for the clinic attached to their church (MIL was a nurse). Lady at the PO was still shaking her head and “well-I-never-ing” when I left.

  • one son sent one of his brothers a gallon of his favorite ice cream, packed in dry ice, for his birthday. I’m not sure that would be allowed these days….

  • It required an enormous box to send large Lego sets to my grandchildren in German. That was the year I vowed to send only gift cards going forward.

  • Maybe not awkward but odd: cookies and socks!

  • Traditional German Christmas cookies, shipped from Germany to the US for my best friend who spent a highschool year there. The challenging part: pack it in a way that a) it survives the travelling without the cookies ending up being cookie crumbles and b) packing it in a way that it actually makes it through customs…

  • I received a hockey stick in the mail once. It arrived in a plastic bag!

  • Years ago, I ordered 3 full size umbrellas

  • Furniture; it was really weird.

  • Now that I think of it – I was trying to forget – a long time ago I ordered $100 worth of a legendary yarn by a well-known dyer who was closing up shop. Ten days later I received an apologetic note saying my package had been misdirected and was now on its way to my address. I think the package must have had some adventures along the way because when it got to me there were only about two meagre mini-skeins in the box. And the shop was all gone, too late to complain. So I am always grateful when I see a package from you guys all packed beautifully and with my full order, never a missing item.

  • I received a table-top ceramic Christmas Tree from a company. It was beautifully packaged, but challenging to unpack. It had to be well protected! Almost impossible to get into as was necessary. I greatly appreciate well packaged items!

  • A mahogany “hippo” rocking horse from Mali to NH, for my nephew. Heavy AF.

  • Somehow bad packaging really stays with you. I once ordered earrings from a company that really sold bike accessories and clothing – and they sent it in a box that would hold at least four shirts. That was really disappointing.
    I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I pack something really well (and small)!
    Keep up the good packaging work!

  • A bag of stones. Instead of HD delivering with all of the other items I had ordered – those came via UPS in yet another bag.

  • I am all for anything that cuts down on packaging waste! I received a hammock in the mail once. The box was ginormous and, since I had not ordered said hammock, I had no idea what this huge box was or how to get in the house. A neighbor helped me get it in. Of course, once open it had to go right back outside since it was a hammock. I never did find out who sent it to me and it was a very expensive and very large item.

  • This was an Amazon order I received…a 6in wide x 36in long box that contained a tube of shawl blocking wires…but…the box was actually empty…just some packing paper. So I had to place a replacement order…the wires did arrive in the 2nd order!

  • Mailing a hiking stick to my grandson. Where to find a box long and narrow enough?

  • A box big enough to accommodate a weekend’s worth of clothes containing a pair of size13 circular needles.
    Guess who the vendor was? Hint- it was probably sitting on a warehouse shelf and fetched by a robot.

  • A rowing machine!

  • My pet meds seem to come in little bottles in a big box with lots of packing paper. We use the packing paper to start our woodstove.

  • I had a full-size spinning wheel that I had woodburned and decorated, and then sent it to a friend across the country. It was large, weighed 14 pounds AND was fragile. It made it!

  • Baby chicks! A box of band new baby chicks has a 24 hour window where they can do without food and water and can rely on each other for warmth.

  • I am always amazed the way they pack tender tomato seedlings. They arrive in perfect condition. We received a weighted patio umbrella stand as a gift. The poor delivery man struggled to get the box up the steps to our door. Thanks for doing your part to reduce shipping waste. Beautiful yarn.

  • We once found some sugar cane and sent it to friend who was originally from Cuba. Never Again!!

  • I had a heck of a time mailing a goalies lacrosse stick. Such an odd looking package, not cheap either! haha

  • I didn’t pack this one but I’ll never forget a friend having to pack up a fully decorated artificial Christmas tree to be shipped out of the country to someone’s vacation home in the Caribbean. Did I mention the ornaments were all things like star fish and seashells?

  • I lived in California at the time and was flying home to Kentucky for Christmas,. I had made 3 quilts and had to pack and carry all 3 for 12 hours .

  • A tennis racket!

  • I ordered a swift from an etsy seller for a friend. The seller packed it with a piece of cardboard folded into a long triangle and taped together, but the cardboard wasn’t long enough, so they then added a folded over piece on top which was held in place with about half a roll of packing tape.

  • My grandma collected bells. She sent me a few when she downsized to smaller living quarters. So much paper- but they arrived okay.

  • A large triangular wooden doll house. It was a real mess to figure out how to mail, but beloved when it arrived!

  • My husband got a coconut shipped to him for Hawaii. Shipping label was right on the coconut! No box needed.

  • I’m with you on reducing packaging! Good luck and keep the faith:-) My most irksome thing to ship is candy in care packages. It’s heavy so costs more to ship than purchase. It’s true thought that counts I guess!

  • Honey bees. The packaging was very see through & open & the USPO at my town was a bit afraid of it.

  • We shipped a 3×5 foot carpet to my daughter’s dorm. UPS guy just rolled it up, wrapped some heavy plastic (yuck) around it, and slapped a label on. It arrived perfectly fine. Sometimes the thing is its own packaging.

    • A handmade western saddle. It was an absolute masterpiece of packing. Looking back I still don’t know how they got it into that box.

  • This wasn’t awkward. Just big. And expensive! My daughter was living overseas and lamenting the lack of the snack foods she loved. Since they are so light, I bought A LOT of bags for her, put them in a very large box, and took them to UPS. Cost about twice the value of the snacks, but well worth it!

  • I tried to send a big box of pine cones to a friend in Florida for her kids art class to paint.
    They were hard to pack because of crunching noise. I had to wrapthem in washcloths dog which two were hand knit!

  • I just received a normal-sized lip balm in a box that would have easily fit a six-pack with room to spare. There was a lot of brown paper in the box to make up the space!

  • When my son was in the Marines he was stationed in Africa. I sent a package to him every week. The things I needed to send were very assorted with extra space left in the box. I used bags of marshmallows as my filler to keep breakables unbroken. The plus was that he always had snacks to share.

  • I often knit for family members who live hours away. I love how I can just pop it into a manila envelope, and it’s ready to go!

  • Many years ago my single point needles were confiscated at check in, and tagged and boxed in a box larger than my suitcase. Last time I travel with or used single points.

  • A small teak table that required assembly and even after one replacement is still slightly unstable.

  • Thank you for advocating for conscientious packaging! My Atlas yarn arrived in a tightly packed box with reusable tissue paper. Nice! Though I didn’t ship it, I had to Christmas wrap an umbrella.

  • Strangely enough, a painting done by a family member, that I mailed back to a survivor! A canvas in a fame, no glass thank goodness, but no box I could find was the right shape for something largish and flat. I finally deconstructed 2 diaper boxes, ( I do foster care) turning the box pieces inside out and used almost a whole roll of packing tape to make it work. My cousin was surprised by the diaper logos on the inside but the painting her mother did yrs ago arrived just fine. And the cardboard was recycled!

  • I shipped a vacuum sealed package of country ham with just a mailing label and postage attached. It was sent to a friend who had shipped me a birdhouse gourd with just a mailing label and postage attached. I love the post office!

  • i assisted my father in Michigan in building a box around an antique armoire for my brother in Colorado, wished i could have gone to Colorado to unbox it!

  • A spare key in an altos tin in an envelope

  • The sender in this case was a friend. He told his brother back home in Poland about the kielbasa he had just made. His brother, joking, requested some. My friend cut a paper thin slice, put it in