What is a Mail Basket?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A mail basket is a basket which has been designed for storing and sorting incoming mail. In any situation where mail for multiple individuals arrives at the same location, such as an office or a family home, a receptacle for mail can be quite useful. Many office and home supply stores sell mail baskets, and it is also possible to adapt other types of baskets for use as mail sorting containers. A wide variety of designs and styles are available, to meet a variety of needs.


Classically, a mail basket is divided into compartments or comprised of several stacked baskets, with mail for each person going into a separate basket. In addition to postal mail, a mail basket may also be used for internal notes, memos, and other communications, since people are in the habit of checking their mail baskets at least once a day. Some baskets have slots or tabs for the names of specific recipients to make sorting easier.

Some people also use a single basket near a doorway to hold outgoing mail. In these instances, people may be required to prepare their mail with stamps so that it can simply be dropped off at a post office for mailing, while in other cases, the outgoing mail may be taken to a department within the building to be prepared for mailing. Offices often use mail baskets to improve efficiency, by saving employees the time involved in walking to a mail room or post office to handle mail.

There are some things to be considered when purchasing a mail basket. The first is the type of mail basket desired, as discussed above. If a mail basket with compartments is needed, the number of people receiving mail should be taken into account, as should the size of mailed items. If people only routinely receive letters and cards, a small mail basket should be sufficient, but if people get packages, the mail basket may need to be larger to accommodate them.

Considering the d├ęcor in an area where a mail basket is going to be used is also a good idea. Mail baskets can be designed in a variety of ways, and many people like to have a basket which does not clash with its surroundings. A black mail basket, for example, might look out of place in a room with natural blonde wood furnishings. It is also a good idea to check that the basket's construction is solid, and to be on the look out for cracks through which mail could slide and become lost.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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