Letter Writing Club + Parcel Snail Mail Inspiration
Oftentimes when you go to send a parcel through Canada Post, you bring your package to the post office so they can weigh it and charge you postage according to where you're going to send it. Unlike with USPS, where they have flat rate "whatever you can fit inside" mailers, with Canada Post it's difficult to know exactly how much your package is going to be, as your postage is calculated based on weight, volume, and destination, even within Canada. This is different to Australia for example, where companies such as Packqueen provide a range of Australia Post Boxes that are easy to assemble and post to your destination of choice. With Canadian post though, a common misconception is that only weight matters, when in fact two packages that are the same weight but different sizes may require different postage. One of my favourite things to send through the post are parcels with postage stamps on them. They are a delight for the recipient, but they're also fun to put together, and even the people at the post office get a kick out of seeing you. If you're sending a parcel, I would advise you to bring your parcel to the post office for exact postage. They will also be able to tell you the different rates (with or without tracking, speed, air or ground, adding extra insurance). They can tell you what it will be and you can bring your parcel home and put on the stamps, but usually I bring my stamps with me. I try to have some rough estimation - if the parcel is staying within Canada, I can bring more domestic stamps, but if it's going internationally, I try to bring my larger value stamps as there have been a few times when I've run out of space on the front of the box. To give you a very rough estimate, a box that would fit, say, a bottle of ink and a pen in its own box, to ship within Toronto or between close major cities (Toronto to Montreal) would be around $8-9. Shipping farther might add a few more dollars, but what will really bring up the price is shipping to rural postal codes. Shipping internationally is pretty unpredictable - to some places you might be able to ship for $18-$20, other places for $35, and other places will start getting really insane and you have to start rethinking how much you love this recipient. These rough estimates are based on no tracking or insurance. You should use your best judgement for where it's shipping for optional tracking and insurance, along with what's inside the package. My postmistress has always given me pretty sound advice on her experience - for example, shipping to Australia has been surprisingly fast, faster than within Canada even - and whether or not I need to get tracking. Another benefit to going into the post office is that they have the appropriate customs forms you have to fill out. I always hate doing it, because usually when I'm sending a parcel in this manner, it's a gift, and the gift giving kind of deflates a bit when the person sees the dollar value of what you're sending before they even open it! But it is what it is, and unfortunately it's a necessary part of sending international parcels. You do, importantly, have the option to check that it's a gift, so the person doesn't have to pay customs on it. As someone who loves browsing through the CanadaPost.ca website to see what new stamps are in, I have a vast collection of stamps, and it's a terrific way to use some of my international stamps ($2.50) or larger value stamps that I can't often use on my regular mail (for my international snail mail, I like to use three domestic stamps at $0.85 each). The post office will cancel all your stamps on your parcel, which I don't mind so much because it sort of adds to the allure of the journey the package has been on to make its way to the recipient - it looks a bit more official.
***I'm pretty excited for our Letter Writing Club, taking place tonight at 7:30 pm. We have stationery supplies for you to try out (and an extra special surprise treat coming soon, in a few months! Ugh! I can't keep a secret!), treats and coffee, but most of all, it's an hour or two to spend time getting your correspondence done from start to finish, surrounded by other letter writers. I feel like I need this more than once a month - hah! There's something very satisfying about reading a letter, and then putting together a thoughtful response, from selecting the stationery, and planning out how you're going to respond to their life's events and questions, and then finishing it off in an envelope, addressing and adding postage. I've been getting back on track with my backlog, and while here and there I find a letter that's more than a month or two old, and a few more from InCoWriMo I still need to respond to, I've been really enjoying the calmer moments of writing and productivity. It was something pretty wonderful to receive so many letters for InCoWriMo, from customers and around the world, and I'm planning on responding to all of them. For InCoWriMo, to make things as easy as possible for myself, I put together a bunch of supplies that were floating around my desks and cupboards - loose sheets of paper that had lost their pads, destined to be wrinkled and stained if not used soon, envelopes loose from their packs, stickers and washi tapes and stamps. While I often think it's nice to have a clean start, with fresh supplies just for the occasion of a month of letter writing, I really needed to start culling through the cupboard shelves, and this was a great way to prioritize loose supplies that needed to be used. I have indeed read Kon Mari and her life-changing magic of tidying up, and feel like my Achilles heel is my over-abundant stationery supplies. In her excellent book, she advises that you should be relentless in rooting out excess supplies, and you should store only what you need, giving away any surplus rather than holding on in the vague hopes of "eventually one day using it," and purchase more when you need it - it's like she wrote this section specifically for me, Queen of Stationery Hoarding. Clearly I have not quite succeeding in Kon-Mari-ing my stationery cupboards, and while I can one day dream, for now I will enjoy the idea of using the stationery I love, with enough for several apocalypses of paper mill collapses waiting in my cupboard.