Insure That Your Items Arrive Safely! Packaging Tips
GPSA Members
It happens every day!

You anticipate receiving an item you won at auction, 
It arrives, and you open the box to see….
Pottery shards or slivers of glass!

We share these packing tips to help you get that item safely to your buyer!

There will always be a debate about what packing materials are best. There are many new materials on the market and inventive ways of using available materials. The keys to safe shipping are:
  • Keep your item from shaking or shifting, i.e. there should be no movement in the box on shaking.
  • Use materials that absorb vibrations AND impact!
  • External materials/boxes must have the strength to hold the weight of your items. When in doubt, reinforce packing boxes.
Best practices for packing are balanced against package weight and shipping costs. As an organization, we advocate safe packing methods for the items we sell, but each seller is responsible for determining the best way to package and ship the items they sell. Here are some general standards we recommend:
  • DO wrap items in a layer of paper, tissue etc. to keep from scratching the surfaces or decorative motifs. Do NOT wrap in newspaper!
  • DO wrap the item in bubble wrap. Wrap not under or over but around it.
  • DO tape items, to keep the protective material in place, but not to mummify. Too much tape may cause the receiver to damage the item when unpacking.
  • DO double box, at least extremely fragile items.
  • DO put at least 1.5" of packing peanuts or other packing materials around item.
We also recommend that you always check with your shipper for specific guidelines regarding appropriate shipping of packages.


Click here for Packing Material Evaluations
and Additional Tips on:


Packing Material Evaluations

Recycled versus New Materials
Using recycled materials is a point of great debate between members. Many members choose to use all new; others only use recycled materials, and still others use a combination of recycled and new. Here are some general guidelines on materials:
  • Packing Peanuts - Highly Recommended. Packing peanuts are one of the best packaging materials for absorbing shock available today. These recycle beautifully and do not wear out. They may break to pieces as they absorb impact, but whole peanuts can be used again and again. Static, antistatic, or starch-based all seem to work equally well for glass and pottery items. Please, use caution with starch based peanuts, these do dissolve in water.
  • Bubble wrap - Highly Recommended. Comes in a variety of sizes of bubbles, perforated or un-perforated, stick or not sticky. Most items can be wrapped in small bubble wrap. Larger bubble wrap is recommended for heavier items that are prone to get more shock during shipping.
  • Tissue Paper - Highly recommended for the first layer of wrapping to prevent scratching
  • Newspaper - Not highly recommended for shipping. Do not place directly in contact with your item. The ink can adhere to the surfaces of your items, especially bisque and other unglazed surfaces. Newspaper is not a great shock absorber. If used, it should be fresh, crumpled or shredded. Newspaper loses it shock absorbability quickly.
  • Blank Newsprint - Use with caution. Often available for very little cost from your local newspaper, makes great wrapping paper and can be used for box "fill".
  • Shredded Paper (not newspaper) - Recommended, but use with caution. Can be used to nest lightweight items and between inner and outer boxes. Some find it better for odd shaped items. This retains it shock absorption qualities longer than newspaper. If it is new and unused, it does not pack down easily and really keeps things from flopping around in the box. Warning: this can add weight to your package and increase the shipping costs.
  • Cardboard - Recommended. Great to add protection during shipping. This can be cut to add extra strength to boxes, shaped to add shelves or compartments in existing boxes, and cut and shaped around finials, spouts, and handles for added protection.
  • Packing Foam - Recommended as an added protection, not for use alone. This can be a great way to add protection around items or between stacked dishes. We recommend using this in combination with bubble wrap, not alone for delicate items. Please see manufacturer's recommendations of thickness and use.
  • Air Pillows - Not highly recommended as a substitute for packing peanuts due to the risk of popping. Use with caution.
  • Styrofoam Egg Cartons - These can be used to hold items inside a box in place or when double boxing, place these inside a larger box. Cut off the tops, they are not as strong as the bottoms. Just put a layer upside down on the inside bottom of larger box. If space permits, set in the smaller box and fill in around the smaller box. They are free and don't add any weight.
  • Coffee Filters - Coffee filters can be a great substitute for tissue paper. They are ideal to wrap items you wish to keep lint free. Consider using them between stacked plates to prevent scratching when you store your fine dinnerware!
  • Cardboard Box Lids - Box lids can be cut down for many uses. They are a great source of extra cardboard that is mentioned in tips throughout these pages. They can even be cut in half to create an inexpensive box for double boxing. 
As you can throughout this page, members have used recycled materials to package items. Here are some other personal experiences with packaging using various recycled materials:

I use the open rectangular boxes from stores to create inexpensive interior boxes for double boxing. You can get these at local grocery or liquor stores easily. Just cut the open box in half. Put your wrapped item in one half with1.5" of peanuts or your favorite packing material. This acts as the bottom of the box. Put the other half on top to act as a lid. Tape securely closed and it is ready to place into a larger shipping box.

I find that plastic from dry cleaner's can be bunched up at the bottom of boxes for extra cushioning.

I use coffee filters to wrap glasses because it does not have lint. My daughter brings home those large, unused, commercial filters left over from her office coffee pot. Well, I use them to clean my glasses, TV, and anything that I don't want lint on, even the computer screen. One day, I ran out of paper towels and used some coffee filters on the glasses, and boy did they shine and without lint! Well, I've start to use them on all glasses, and even began to wrap the glassware in them, before wrapping in anything else, to keep lint away from my clean glassware. I want my customer to see clean and shiny glasses when they unwrap them.

For those delicate handles on steins or pitchers. I have used Styrofoam on each side of the handle and taped the side together then bubble wrapped item.




Ways to Keep Items from Slipping
  • Using a Tape 'X' Across Your Box
    A number of members recommend using a tape 'X' across the box to keep items from shifting. Simple steps for making this work: Wrap your item. Add about 1.5" of packing peanuts to the bottom of the box. Place item in box. Fill sides firmly with packing peanuts. Shake and add more peanuts as needed. When the peanuts are level with the top of your item, use your packing tape to create an 'X' from the sides of the box, across your item, to the other side. Now, just add peanuts to the top, seal, and ship.

    I layer the bottom of the box with peanuts, put item in and then run tape up and down the sides either x shape or cross shape to further hold it in place and then add more peanuts. I also shake the box to settle peanuts then add more until I can hardly close it without the peanuts popping out.

  • Peanut Pillows or Cushions
    Create your own form fitting pillows- to keep things from shifting and add padding. Just take handfuls of your favorite packing materials and put them in paper or plastic bags, like those bags from your local store. Stuff the bag and tie it off. You know have your own flexible, form-fitting "pillows". That makes cushions that you can mold to fit into corners and other spaces. Also try using dry cleaning bags for larger items or more flexibility.

    …I can use newspaper and DH's laundry shirt plastic bags to make different shaped pillows to meet all needs.

    I often fill an inside out plastic grocery bag with peanuts - tie it off and place knot on bottom. The box is lined with larger bubble wrap - bubbles out (away from item). I use paper towel, toilet paper and wrapping paper rolls - cut to fit in all corners. 

    The peanut "pillow" goes in next - to cushion the tissue, small bubble and plastic wrapped item. You can play with the pillow to shape the peanuts and position the item in the middle. I have thick foam - both hard sheets and the thick type that comes on a roll - I cut pieces to further cushion the item from the outside. 

    Large bubble is wrapped over item - if there is a lot of space, another peanut "pillow" (or air bag) goes on top. I find the advantage to layering so much is that the item is secure in middle of box. There is enough of dead air space that allows the box to take a little abuse but not crush item(s).

  • Using Cardboard Strips
    Cardboard strips can be used in many ways for packing. To keep items from shifting, cut cardboard strips slightly larger then the width and length of your box. Bend the ends to form tabs. Tape these to the top your item. Put the items in the packing box and tape the tabs to the sides of the box.

    Alleysally and amxjewel 
    After wrapping your item, cut 2 cardboard strips that fit the sides of your box. Put them together like a plus + sign and tape to the top of the item. This will help keep the item from slipping sideways inside the box even if the peanuts or other packing materials shift.

    Another tip for using cardboard strips:
    When packing multiple items such as glasses, cups, vases, etc. put cardboard strips between the items to keep them from moving or touching each other.



Heavy, Bulky, Misshaped Items 
Check the recommended weight on each box, but DO NOT put more than 10 -15 pounds in a single box without reinforcing the sides/corners. See below for special tips on shipping dinnerware.
  • Do use a very sturdy box. Double the top and bottom closures of the box. 
  • DO not be afraid to reinforce your box sides
  • DO use Extra pieces of cardboard
  • DO use Styrofoam cut or broken added as side or corner supports
Wrap item "with egg crate foam and then tape it in place to prevent moving during shipping. Tape cardboard across areas needing extra protection. Wrap that whole thing in large-bubble bubble wrap. I then double box with peanuts in both boxes. Mark the outside box, "This Side Up" in hopes that the carrier will not tip it up so that the heavy side is on top. 

I took some white Styrofoam insulation that I have from some remodeling, broke it into pieces and taped to the top and bottom of the box. The space between the inner box and the outer box was exactly twice the depth of the insulation. Anyway, I figure that it and the sides of the box, which is where I put it, will take the brunt of the weight

I like to recycle Styrofoam, too. An inch or two thick sheets is good for separating 2 or more items in one box - just cut to fit snugly to form compartments.

The Rob
Styrofoam is my favorite packing material, light and solid. It is great for adding structure to a package. The only downside is the crumbs when cutting. With the sheets that I get, I've found if you lightly score with a box cutter, and then snap apart....less "snow" to chase with the sweeper

I smush down the peanuts and use paper shred liberally on top the peanuts if any doubt. First wrap each item in bubble wrap (paper too if I remember), then in the single-face corrugated cardboard, then peanuts. The cardboard is great and does a fantastic job protecting things. If I'm wrapping stacks of plates, I put a piece of the cardboard and a piece of bubble wrap between each plate, then wrap the whole stack in bubble wrap and the cardboard.
Some Special Tips for Shipping Dinnerware
I like to put bubble wrap between each and every plate in a stack when shipping, if plates are glass or thin china I sometimes add those thick foamy Styrofoam picnic plates as well. You can pick these up pretty cheap. They also work well if you have stacks of china just sitting around like we do.

When shipping stacks of plate or bowl: use layers. Use a layer of bubble wrap, then a plate, and another layer of bubble wrap, etc After your stack is complete use another layer of bubble wrap (large bubbles if you have them), then tape together.

I sell a lot of multiple items - dinnerware mostly. I wrap each item in tissue, pad between items with small bubble wrap or foam - wrap the whole group in bubble wrap. I then bind the whole thing together with plastic wrap. I twist the end of the wrap and use something bright to secure it so the buyer can figure out where to start unwrapping! 

If the order is large, everything gets double boxed - salad plates together, etc. Boxes are placed in a large carton that is well padded and taped securely (tops, bottom, all sides). 

I tend to ship very heavy items, so cost versus crushing is always I concern. One of the first things I check it to make sure that the weight of what I am packing does not exceed the recommended shipping weight of the box. Most normal commercial boxes are 60 to 80 pounds, but in talking to the manufacturers they recommend that no more than 1/2 that weight actually be placed in the boxes. Take care when using postal boxes they are really only design to safely ship about 6 pounds without extra reinforcement.

Do not stack too many plates together without extra padding or card board separators in between. I do not recommend putting more than 5 in a given stack. Be sure to wrap cups separately

To add extra strength to my box and prevent crushing, one of the things I do is make "Card board steps" or layers between the groups of dishes. I place peanuts, the wrapped dishes, then peanuts in the box. I then make a layer divider. To do this I take a piece of cardboard and bend it over the sides of the box to get the size right. I make the sides of flaps reach to the bottom of the desired "layer". This creates a layered effect, very similar to double boxing or those expensive dish boxes for moving. 

If they will fit, the cut 1/2 boxes from the market can also be used quite nicely. This same effect can also be used horizontally, but add some tape to keep the divider from shifting.

I have had two items break during shipping. Both were plates. Both were packed in multiples. The first time, I shipped a Made in Japan tea set. One of the dessert plates cracked. It was on the bottom and I hadn't put enough cushioning between the bottom of the box and the bubble wrapped plate. The second time was a very large package of Laurel California Pottery. My mistake that time was putting too many heavy items in one box. Everything was very well wrapped. One dinner plate broke.

So, now, whenever I ship multiple plates, I use an oversized box. I double box on heavy items, and I tape a piece of cardboard over each plate. It costs the buyer more in shipping, but I haven't had anything break in two years.




Small or Extremely Delicate Items
When boxing delicate or small items some of our members have used or seen used, some very creative packing solutions. For delicate items, double boxing is highly recommended, but there are some new twists on this standard. After wrapping your item in tissue paper and bubble wrap, put them in:
  • Throw away food storage containers
  • Styrofoam cups
  • Coffee cans
  • Butter tubs
  • Formed heavy duty plates
Other important points with delicate items:
  • DO NOT mummify your item in tape. This can lead to damage when the buyer has to unwrap the item.
  • DO add extra protection on anything that protrudes from the body of the piece.
  • DO wrap lids and stoppers separately from the body of the item. Items can then be lightly taped together, so they do not get lost in the peanuts.
When I first started selling fragile items, I learned this one the hard way: Items that are hollow need to have crumpled up tissue inside to help absorb any jolts in shipping.

My husband uses used Styrofoam coffee cups to pack glasses. We look like idiots, but we buy coffee every morning and save the cups. When people see the used cups in the sink, they must think I am so cheap, but they are sure great packing!

I've used those paper plates that are deep with the formed edges between plates to ship. The two plates I shipped to Germany got those. I used I think 2 plates in between and two plates on each side. Then taped around that, and double boxed.

P j t
When I pack my little Open Salts... I first wrap in Kleenex, then paper towel (extra around a handle if needed) then bubble wrap... then float in a "full load" of peanuts... so you have to apply a "little" pressure to get the lid to close... that little salt doesn't move an inch... even if the postal service decides to use my box as their daily football !!! Never had a break regardless of what the box looks like!

I wrap each glass or cup in tissue with all the excess tissue stuffed down inside the cup or glass. That gives them a little more protection.

R M Stickney 
I use Saran wrap instead of tape to hold the bubble wrap in place on smaller items - wrap a sheet all around the item. Also, I leave a "tab" of folded over tape when securing bubble wrap so the customer can easily pull the tape off the item. Don't use the Priority Mail tape to secure bubble wrap - it is SO hard to remove!

Bo Sox
I use cotton filling - the kind you buy in a bag for quilting or craft projects - for small things with a lot of protruding parts. In particular, the little ceramic angels by Josef, Napco, etc. I do a layer of cotton, then tissue, bubble wrap and finally peanuts.

Quilt batting works great for protecting protruding parts too! Use over tissue paper so that it doesn't "catch" on the item.

I use cardboard tubes/cores from paper towels and toilet paper ones, too. <blush> cut to the appropriate size to fit over delicate finials and teapot spouts, stick handles, etc.

Whenever I'm wrapping items with fragile applied pieces of glass like little critters, or perhaps a thin stem with a very flared bowl, I build up the stem with micro bubble - the 6 inch wide light as a feather stuff - then use regular bubble over that, or I build a pocket for the applied piece so it's not rubbing up against anything.

… For those delicate handles on steins or pitcher's, I have used Styrofoam on each side of the handle and taped the side together then bubble wrapped item.

Add a shock absorber around handles. I stuff peanuts in cup handles. Smush a few peanuts between the handle and the side of the cup, then wrap. I have received items with broken handles because they did not add a shock absorber and then wrapped too tightly in bubble wrap and also taped the outside too tightly over the handle.

When shipping cups, I wrap each one in a sheet of tissue, sort of twisting the corners around the handle. Then when the bubble goes on, I set it just off center, with the handle angled toward the "long" corner. This adds extra cushioning to the handle area, without adding the bulk when the customer removes the wraps.

You can make stemware protectors out of other tubes as well depending on the size of the glasses. Save the tubes from bubble wrap, paper rolls, large wrapping paper rolls etc. If the rolls are industrial strength you may need to use a handsaw to cut them. Wrap stemware in tissue and bubble wrap and insert each one into a tube, they should not fit too snugly, filling in any gaps with peanuts or tissue. Tape the ends of the tubes.
Arrange the tubes and tape together then put in your shipping box with peanuts or other cushioning material leaving plenty of room between the top, bottom and sides of the box.




Nested Items
Nested items can include anything that fits into or sits in another object. Mixing bowls and canister sets are frequently nested. There are 2 schools of thought in wrapping nested items. The first school separates each item and ignores they were nested. The second school packs these in a nested form. The key to this is insuring that the nested items cannot move against each other. Our members provide some novel methods for shipping these popular items.
I have shipped a set of nesting bowls and they arrived in prefect condition. I take each one and fill them in with peanuts or some packing material bubble wrap each one separately, place a layer of peanuts , then largest bowl , fill another layer of peanuts, and then the next size, same goes to next one. Fill in the rest with peanuts, and then close that box. Then double box the item. 

Really, really wrap each in bubble wrap. Cardboard or foam between each one. Fill in all spaces. Then wrap the whole lot of them in bubble wrap. Double box with lots of cushioning. Overfill with peanuts or other cushioning material. Make sure nothing moves. Make sure there is lots of cushioning to absorb any shock.

A layer of tissue on each bowl followed by a layer of bubble wrap, then separate each bowl as I nested them with either a square of cardboard bent at the corners or with a piece of the carpet padding. After they were nested snugly and unable to touch each other, I would "X" a piece of tape around them to hold them together securely together, and put them in a box with enough room for some peanuts all around. Then put that box into a larger box with crumpled newspaper or more peanuts to absorb any shock to the outer box.

I have the best luck with wrapping nested bowls so they absolutely can't move against each other with plenty of bubble (mummify in this case) and cushioning between the bowls and the inner box. Between the inner and outer box, use plenty of cushioning to absorb blows. Push those peanuts in firmly. I mix shredded newspaper and peanuts together and really force them between the two boxes with an old wooden spoon. I use the bottom half of Styrofoam egg cartons sometimes too. They can really take up space without extra weight and provide cushioning too. I have had good luck with canister sets doing this too.

Quilt batting works great for putting between the bowls after tissue paper and individually bubble wrapping. After you have them wrapped, tape them together so that there's NO way that they can move, and then wrap them in a layer of big bubble wrap.

Toppers Erica 
I have used paper towel cardboard rolls, or cut cardboard to create a nest area & stabilize items away from each other & box sides. Rolled newspaper into "log" shapes creates a nest for peanuts. Plastic grocery bags both filled w. peanuts & alone can be good filler on sides. Small items have enough bubble wrap when cannot feel their shape underneath.




Special Touches - Labeling, Packing Slips, Thank You Notes, etc.
Now that you have packed your item, here are some recommendations to make sure it gets to the person you intended.
  • Do securely tape the bottom and top of your box. Do use wide packing tape for box closure. DO NOT use masking tape for box closure.
  • DO NOT use water-soluble ink or pencil on labels. 
  • DO check your shippers recommendation on using a brown paper wrapper. This is a problem for many shippers.
  • DO Mark your exterior with the word fragile.
  • DO put a return address on all packages.
  • DO protect the label from the elements - Consider covering the address area with clear tape to prevent the ink from disappearing or the label coming off in shipping. Don't tape over any bar code printing.
  • DO put a packing slip inside the box. Packing slips have two basic purposes. To let the customer know what item should be in this box and who it came from. This is also a good place to repeat your return policies.
  • DO put a 'Thank you note" inside the box - This can be combined with your invoice. This is also an opportunity to remind the customer who sent the marvelously wrapped package
  • Consider adding a little extra special touch to your package, such as candy or something unique to your business.
Caution: Be sure not to include a card in USPS Media mail shipments. This is considered a violation of Post Office policy as a card is considered First Class mail. A note to your customer is considered acceptable.
Sometimes I receive items that are packed carefully but the box itself has only one piece of tape on the top and on the bottom. Both the top and bottom of the box should be securely taped with tape across the middle seams and the sides in a "H" pattern.

I also cover the shipping label with tape, we learned the hard way that if it's raining when you go to the post office, it will wash away the addresses.

Write the address somewhere on the box using a permanent marker in case the label comes off, particularly when you're not shipping Priority. I tape my labels within and inch of their lives and have STILL had 2 come off when going through USPS Parcel Post machines. My address is on a sticker inside the package as well.

rd Erickson 
I use the label from the USPS site. I use duro all-purpose spray adhesive on the back AND then use clear tape over the label. The spray adhesive will NOT hold the label through the shipping, you MUST use tape over it - which also keeps it from smearing. 
After I print the label - I have set a page in my Word Perfect that I go to and re run the label through the printer and it prints 'FRAGILE - HANDLE WITH CARE' across the top and bottom of the label. When I shrink the label - I print the Fragile - Handle with care in the blank space next to the big P.

Homeless Treasures 
Many places carry rolls of "Fragile" tape the same size as Priority tape or the heavy duty packing tape. It has a white background with red letters and not all that expensive. The rolls fit in those dispensers for packing tape and it doesn't fall off like the stickers do.

I always include a packing slip inside. This can be printed straight from Paypal. Paypal allows you to customize a part of the packing slip too.

…One other thing is to include with packing your the name and address and the buyers. Just incase they other label is lost.

…I always include a "Thank You" note with my address and ebay ID in the box, so if there is a problem, or if the package gets lost.

I combine a Thank You note with my packing slip. I think of this as the last impression I am going to leave with customers. I use this to thank the buyer for their purchase, identify what should be in the box, remind customers of my return policy, and remind them to leave feedback. At the bottom, I signoff with my name, contact information, the name of my ebay store, and my seller ID. This way I get a chance to remind buyers to stop back again and repeat their positive experience.

Sometimes I include unpacking instructions for the buyer. I had packed a fragile double tiered hostess tray set once and I did not want the item broken when the buyer unpacked it. 

Today's package arrived with a nice little thank you like the ones you often see tucked in the package, but taped to it were two pieces of hard candy. One was root beer - my favorite! The seller has over 7,000 feedbacks and 100% positive. 

When I owned my gift shop I did quite a bit of shipping. I always included either candy or a small gift inside the box and my customers always seemed to appreciate it. I have quite a few smaller items leftover from "going out of business" and when I make a big sale on Ebay I enclose one of those items in the box with their purchase. It might just make them want to buy from me again.
Also noted as being a special touch - Hershey Chocolate Kisses, perfume samples with a clothing purchase.


GPSA Home  | Active Sellers  | Glossary for Auction Descriptions  | Join the GPSA  | Seller Guidelines 
Newsletter  | Newsletter Archives  | Members Only  | Packaging Tips 
Pottery Links  | Glass Links  | Pottery Books  | Glass Books  | Pottery FAQs  | Glass Faqs

© All Rights Reserved