How to Ship a Christmas Tree

Learn how to ship a Christmas tree and why shipping them is so expensive
ship a Christmas tree
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So, it’s the first hour after you’ve finished your Thanksgiving dinner…which means it’s time to start putting up the Christmas decorations, right? If you’re on the hunt for a Christmas tree this year, you’re not just limited to hauling one back from a local lot. You can also order them online…and if you’re able to order a tree online, that means you can also ship them! In any case, whether your recipients don’t have transportation to get their own tree or are simply not trying to leave the couch during a Harry Potter marathon, this guide is all about how to ship a Christmas tree directly to their doorsteps.

Table of Contents

Christmas Trees are Too Big to Ship with USPS

Before we get into anything, let’s talk about size. Christmas trees are, by nature, oversized objects. Most eCommerce shipments come in small, handheld packages…while some Christmas trees can get up to 10 feet tall, and a few feet wide! This is even the case when they’re all “tied up,” like how they are when you bring them home from a local lot. Due to their size, unless you’re sending one of the miniature ones that you can put on a countertop, chances are your Christmas tree is going to be way too big to send with USPS.

USPS specializes in handling lightweight, smaller packages, and won’t accept any parcels that go over their maximum size limits. So, you’ll need to find a different carrier to ship your Christmas tree…which we’ll get to next.

UPS Offers the Best Rates for Oversized Shipments

Since USPS is out of the question for Christmas tree shipments, your best bet is UPS. UPS specializes in large, oversized packages, and will offer the best rates for these shipments out of all the major carriers. When it comes to transporting large shipments, UPS trucks have the most space on their delivery trucks, so their workers are used to delivering these types of packages. They’ll also offer cheaper rates than FedEx…but you should still mentally prepare yourself to shell out a pretty penny.

UPS Ground is the Cheapest Available Service

Out of all the services UPS offers, Ground is going to be the cheapest way to ship your Christmas tree. Due to the size of these kinds of shipments, all of their air-based services like 3 Day Select, 2nd Day Air, and Next Day Air are going to be way too expensive for you to even consider. Not to worry though; UPS Ground is the most affordable (and one of the most popular) domestic UPS services…and it’s actually quicker than you might think. Delivery takes place between 1-5 business days, and depending on close your package’s final destination is to you, UPS sometimes even delivers these shipments overnight!

Learn more about the differences between USPS Ground and UPS Ground.

Prepare to Pay Surcharges

Just because UPS offers the best rates for large packages, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be cheap to use them. On top of the cost of the postage—which will undoubtedly already be somewhat hefty—UPS will probably hit you with a couple of different surcharges. You’ll likely need to pay an “Irregular Package” or a “Large Package” surcharge, depending on the size of the Christmas tree you’re sending.

If you think avoiding UPS is the ticket to avoiding these special surcharges, think again! FedEx also imposes surcharges on oversized shipments and irregularly-shaped packages, and various regional carriers have been known to do the exact same thing. These surcharges are why, from a customer’s perspective, Christmas trees are so expensive to order online! When you factor in the cost of shipping, retailers often have no choice but to add it as a markup on top of the price of the trees themselves.

Properly Packaging a Christmas Tree (Or Not)

When it’s time to package your Christmas tree, don’t go for a cardboard box. Yep, you read that correctly! In fact, shipping a Christmas tree is one of those rare instances when you don’t have to use a cardboard box…and you shouldn’t! Cardboard boxes that fit Christmas trees are pretty hard to find, so you’re better off just putting it in a tree storage bag that zips up, kind of the same way you’d pack a suitcase. Don’t worry about throwing in any packing material, either; Christmas trees aren’t fragile by any means, so they don’t need any special protection. Just as long as your tree fits inside the bag, you’re good to go!

Contrary to popular belief, if you’re shipping an oddly-shaped item like a tree, UPS doesn’t require you to pack your items inside a cardboard box most of the time. They’ll likely just designate it as an Irregular Package, and hit you with that specific surcharge like we just laid out in the above section.

Pro Tip: Not sure where to find a storage bag for your tree? You can order Christmas tree storage bags on the Home Depot website…and there’s always Amazon, of course.

Save the Most Money on Labels with Online Shipping Software

If you find yourself needing to ship a Christmas tree this holiday season, here’s a tip that will keep some extra cash in your pocket: don’t go to your local UPS Store! Instead, buy your postage online with free shipping software.

When you use shipping software to buy your shipping labels, you’ll get access to special discounts that the carriers typically reserve for huge commercial shippers.  The Postal Service calls their special level of discounts “Commercial Pricing.” For UPS, it’s a new program they rolled out in 2019 called the Digital Access Program. In some cases, these discounts can end up saving you up to 89% off what you’d pay for Retail prices…and the best shipping software options out there are totally free!

On top of the ability to buy and print UPS postage at deep discounts, most shipping software also allows you to schedule pickups from UPS for a fee. That means that once you package your Christmas tree in the bag and slap a sticky label onto the outside, you don’t even have to haul it to your local UPS access point. Your local UPS driver will come to snag it directly from your pickup location, and you’re all set! Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

Looking for the right shipping software for you?

To save the most money on UPS labels, check out our guide:

Choose the Best Shipping Software

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