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Boxed Out :

January 12, 2018

Each year our family has a gift-wrapping party two nights before Christmas. I am not sure how this tradition started but it has become quite an event. Our children invite friends, we serve sparkling wine, and we make sure we have a huge supply of traditional and non-traditional papers from which to choose. Everyone spends a lot of time making sure the gift looks fantastic.

Each year our family has a gift-wrapping party two nights before Christmas. I am not sure how this tradition started but it has become quite an event. Our children invite friends, we serve sparkling wine, and we make sure we have a huge supply of traditional and non-traditional papers from which to choose. Everyone spends a lot of time making sure the gift looks fantastic. The process involves me, in private, putting a gift into a box, and then randomly selecting someone to wrap the gift. Only after the gift is wrapped do I tell the wrapper to whom the gift should be addressed. The kids go through the same process. Usually, we have a terrific supply of boxes from which to choose. While we do not shop on-line very much, beginning in the fall, we tend to save all our boxes knowing that we will need them in December. This year, however, was a bit different. We ran out of boxes. We did not run out of boxes because we had more gifts but because fewer boxes had arrived at the house over the past three months.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, online retailers are trying hard to minimize the amount of wasted space in boxes. Some have developed sophisticated algorithms to minimize the number of shipments and empty space in boxes. Others have developed machines that automatically create padded mailers on demand to fit smaller items thereby eliminating the need to use a box at all. Personally, I had noticed that fewer boxes had been shipped to the house and more soft packages had been left in our mailbox. While I am very happy that on-line retailers are minimizing packaging, transportation costs, and material to recycle, we did have to scramble a bit this past holiday. We developed some creative solutions and as a bonus, we had less material to take to the recycling center.

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