Tip Sheet:
Guidelines for sending holiday cards and gifts in 2001




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Cases of anthrax-tainted mail in the weeks after Sept. 11 changed the rules for sending cards and gifts this holiday season.

Packaging expert Karen Proctor, associate professor and chair of packaging science at Rochester Institute of Technology, offers the following tips for preparing, sending and personally delivering holiday cards and gifts.

Since America’s airports are operating under new "business as usual" practices, Proctor says travelers taking Christmas gifts to out-of-state relatives should heed these precautions:

  • Do not wrap gifts — wrapped gifts are subject to being opened by airport security agents. Also, avoid traveling with gifts of life-like toy weapons.

  • Gifts should be included with checked baggage rather than with carry-on luggage —preferably, all gifts should be packaged within a single, larger cardboard box.

  • Be mindful that carry-on luggage will be subjected to higher levels of X-ray radiation than they would have been prior to Sept. 11.

  • Avoid having sharp objects of any kind, including nail clippers, in carry-on luggage.

    These precautions will help minimize delays at airport security checkpoints and during random boarding checks, as well as safeguard your packages.

    Proctor advises those who plan on mailing cards and gifts that they clearly mark all envelopes and packages with easily identifiable return addresses.

    Businesses that send holiday cards or gifts should consider the use of "windowed" envelopes that allow recipients to see inside. Also, they should attach shipping orders to the outsides of all packages. Additionally, cards and letters from businesses should not be disguised to look like personal mail, a common direct-marketing practice before Sept. 11.

    Professor Proctor is available for additional comment. Contact Mike Saffran, senior news specialist, at (585) 475-5697 or e-mail mjsuns@rit.edu.