Packaging Tips for Tobacco-Related Gifts

Russ enjoys a smoke

Recently I posted a gift-buying guide to help people who aren’t cigar or pipe smokers, in an attempt to make things easier for holiday shopping. It occurred to me that, after posting it, there are also pitfalls that can pop up if the gifts aren’t properly packaged. Here are some ideas to assure that your gifts arrive in good shape.

  • If you receive a shipment containing pipe tobacco or cigars and need to keep them for a period of time before sending them to the recipient, please avoid doing something that is commonly recommended- Never, ever put tobacco products in the freezer or refrigerator. Today’s frost-free refrigerators work by removing moisture from the inside of the compartment, so they can dry tobacco out, even if it’s in a ziplock bag. Putting tobacco or cigars in the freezer is potentially even worse as the water in the cells can freeze into tiny ice crystals which can burst the cell walls, and that can dry out the leaves.
  • Tips that are specific for sending cigars- If the cigar comes in cellophane, keep it that way. It’s there to protect the wrapper from cracking, not to keep the cigar “fresh”. Try to keep the cigars from banging around at all cost, so bubble wrap or layers of paper work better than packing peanuts, and keeping them in a close-fitting ziplock bag is also a good idea. An even better idea is to make a package of a travel humidor and cigars. Take the cigars you select and put them in the humidor and snap it shut. The foam liners will keep the cigars from moving around and colliding, offering the best protection to the cigars.
  • Most of the pipes we send to our customers come with a box, even if the manufacturer didn’t include one. This is not only to protect the finish. The tenon (which is the part of the stem that fits into the shank) is quite thin and pretty fragile, so it doesn’t take much of an impact or very much pressure to snap it off. For an extra measure of protection, wrapping the pipe in a small piece of bubble wrap or a couple of sheets of wrapping paper so it fits snugly into the box is a good idea.
  • Take a look at the inside of the carton when opening the shipment we’ve sent to you. We ship tens of thousands of packages a year, and we have a very low incidence of items damaged in transit. See how the items in the box are secured, and you’ll have a really good idea of how to repack them.
  • This tip is very important for any parcels that you’ll send out- pay particularly close attention to the packaging instructions specified by the carrier you’re using. They will indicate the type of boxes, tape/twine and the proper labeling information. Failure to follow these guidelines may lead to package being delayed or even returned to you.
  • If the items you’re shipping are fairly expensive or particularly fragile, it might not be a bad idea to insure the package. That way, you won’t be on the hook for the cost of a replacement should something go wrong.
  • It’s always best to use the shipping companies’ waybills or labels, rather than hand writing a label to assure yourself that all the required information is there.
  • There are many common items that may be restricted from shipping using normal carriers. Some of them, such as lighters (whether they are full or drained of fuel) can only be shipped using ground methods, but many items require special handling and/or labeling, and others can’t be shipped by any carrier without special permits for handling hazardous materials. Check with the carrier (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.) if the items fit any of the following categories: compressed gas (aerosols, pressurized foams, and others), flammable materials (may include after shave, colognes and similar items), acidic items or other corrosives, certain batteries. If you ordered the item(s) from us, they will be safe for you to repackage and ship (but lighters, again, must go by ground shipment only- no overnight or air shipping), as we follow the regulations for all items we sell. As always, if you have any questions about the safety or legality of the products you wish to ship, call the local branch of the carrier you plan to use and ask if the item can be shipped and if so, if there are any special precautions or labeling you need to follow.
  • Within the area of tobacco products, the following are restricted from shipping to individuals:  cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, dry and moist snuff. These items must be purchased face-to-face at a licensed tobacco dealer and if given as a gift, must be hand-delivered to the recipient by the giver.
  • Of course, one of the most important pieces of information you need to have to avoid disappointment would be the cutoff dates for various types of shipping to assure the best chance of your package arriving in time for the holiday. There are deadlines posted on the websites of all the major consumer carriers. Just remember that lighters have to go by ground shipping, so you can’t use any of the expedited shipping options ( 3 day, 2 day, overnight), as they use air transportation for at least part of the journey.

I hope these little nuggets of wisdom make your gift giving a little bit easier, and one thing to bear in mind- you can save yourself time, trouble and additional cost by ordering your gifts from us and having us ship them directly to the recipient. As always, we’re more than happy to answer your questions at 1-800-494-9144. Happy Holidays from all of us at Pipes and Cigars.com!

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About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for www.pipesandcigars.com in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at russo@pipesandcigars.com or by calling 1-800-494-9144.