An Alpine Christmas Gift – Packaging Process.

My Merry Christmas scene is complete! Read about how I designed this MDF free standing ornament in my previous blog post ‘A Free Standing Christmas Gift’. However now I need to mass produce, package, and post them off to my unsuspecting relatives all without any breakages.

Here’s where I’d got to at the end of my prototyping phase…

Laser cut layer Merry Chritmas for Front slotted layer of Christmas scene. 3mm MDF Cabin, Trees, Merry Christmas text, side slot pieces.
All pieces ready for assembly.

I am pleased with the design. I am pleased with the overall size. Now for a few tweaks to make it a bit more functional.

Firstly, last year I learnt the value of flat postage. When designing my baubles (read my previous post ‘Lasercut your way into the Christmas display’) I soon found that posting was not as cheap and easy as I’d have liked. The baubles comprised of four parts that slotted together to form a 3D circular shape. It was no good posting pre-assembled baubles as, though light, they were awkwardly shaped and fragile. Instead I arranged the pieces over 3 MDF squares and tied them together with a nice ribbon not forgetting to include assembly instructions. The waste created by cutting the outer bauble shape doubled up to make an ideal post container! I also found recipients enjoyed the assembly stage too. It added another element to the gift.

Laser cut flat packed bauble kit. MDF , Card, Ribbon,
Laser cut flat packed bauble kit

The three layers looked lovely tied up with a bow, the ribbon could also be used to hang the bauble so win win win! However, Three layers of MDF and a nice bow knot didn’t fit very nicely into standard sized packing envelopes. I found I had to cut card to the right size and make my own packaging, or wrap up in paper. Furthermore, the thickness of the finished item after wrapping often was slightly too big to fit in the post as a large letter. I got pretty good at arranging them so they would just about fit with a squeeze, but a lot depended on how generous the post office lady was feeling on the day.

So this year, to eliminate post anxiety, I decided on a maximum of two layers of 3mm MDF only.

Continuing in this efficient posting trend, I also opted to use a standard A4 size bounding box for the total artwork per sheet. This way I could use a standard A4 padded envelope and miraculously get away with a 100g ordinary Large Letter. In December 2017 that came to the bargain price of 98p with a first class stamp.

Now how to make it fit!?

Lasercut german cabin christmas scene casing for posting
Completed layout for efficient posting.

Luckily my prototype was not too far off being able to squeeze into and A4 padded envelope to begin with. After a bit of thinking I was happy enough to compromise on the overall height of the cabin in order to save a bit of space. By reducing the large gap at the bottom (which wasn’t actually decorated in any way – it merely provided a black background to easily read the front ‘Merry Christmas’ layer) I could squeeze the identical side slot pieces in the remaining space either side of the slanted roof. I also had to adjust the width span of the roof slightly as it was fractionally longer than the length of A4, but again this didn’t make to much of a difference. I needed to slightly re-align the roof tiles, but no real harm done to the design overall.

The centre and front layers easily fit on and A4 sheet together with no alterations.

I used one of the side slot pieces to add a very small laser-etched personalised Christmas message.

Finally, to hold the pieces in place during travel I included tabs on the outer cut lines of each piece. This is where you can set the laser not to fire for a fraction of a second whilst it’s making its route around, creating a tiny join. When the time comes, recipients will be able to ‘pop’ out each section carefully from the casing.

I always enjoy making the instruction card. I sometimes find it hard to remember that others might not immediately understand how to put it together, having spent so long carefully working it out for myself. So I make sure to include nice clear steps explaining what to do. Finally, I very politely suggest they keep hold of the casing and envelop for safe storage after Christmas!

With an almost limitless supply of ‘Merry Christmas 2015’ cards waiting to be up-cycled, I print the instructions and a ‘finished product’ image on to labels and get on with some cutting/sticking.

Instruction cards for laser cut German Cabin Christmas ornament
Instruction label cards

And finally off to the post office!

Finished product ready for posting.