The next time you are preparing to ship a gift out to a relative or friend living many miles away, please keep in mind a few things about boxing up and sending that package.
NO STRING--Do not use any string on the outside of your package prior to sending them out. Even though "brown paper packages, tied up with strings" rank among your favorite things (according to Julie Andrews' song, that is)...reserve them for personally-deliverd packages to friends, not ones you send out.
NO DUCT TAPE--Though it might be your only adhesive in the house, REFRAIN from wrapping the outter packaging with duct tape. I know there is a book which boasts thousands of uses for duct tape, but this should not be one of them. The USPS does NOT want to see a silvery mass of mess all over the outside of your pacakge! Use the clear tape used for sealing boxes, found wherever mail supplies are sold.
NO PLASTIC GROCERY BAG STUFFED PACKAGES: Do not use wadded-up, plastic grocery bags as a means for packing; these are not going to protect your goods against damage throughout the course of your package's trip. A better choice is good, sturdy newspaper. The best choice, whenever possible, is to use commercial, bubble wrap (also sold wherever mailing supplies are sold). Besides, who doesn't love to pop bubble wrap when they receive it? It's might be better than the gift itself (no offense)!!
NO HAZARDOUS MATERIALS--Don't try to get one over on the USPS by shipping dangerous, hazardous materials such as matches, perfumes, or other liquids that might open and leak out into EVERYTHING or things that MIGHT be considered potentially hazardous. Use your noggin, that's why you have one.
IDENTIFY RECIPIENT and YOURSELF clearly--Once you've boxed, wrapped, and sealed the package, now get a permanent (I recommend Sharpie brand) marker, LEGIBLY write the recipient's name in the middle of the package, and your own name/address in the upper left hand corner (just the way you would address a letter only in a LARGER SCALE). If you have return address labels, this is a good time to use one, as well! Affix some clear, packing tape around the addresses and sides of the box to keep the package in tact, and take it to the post office for postage and mailing. They will give you several options for sending it out, according to how fast you want it to get there to whether you want to insure the package against loss or theft. I always get the delivery confirmation so I don't have to call my recipient with, "HEY DID YOU GET MY GIFT?" This is a more subtle approach.
Call the number on the delivery confirmation sticker 3 days after your package was sent to track its whereabouts
If you even remotely suspect the item you are packaging to send MIGHT be considered "hazardous" REFRAIN from sending it.