Postal deadlines approaching quickly

Dec. 02, 2012 @ 08:34 AM

With the Christmas season fast approaching, families who can’t come together still find ways to exchange presents. With more than 17 billion cards, letters and packages expected to be delivered this holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service wants to make your shipping experience convenient and ensure your holiday gifts get to their destinations swiftly and safely.

“Christmas may seem a long way off but it’s never too early to reduce holiday stress,” said Laurie Timmons, USPS consumer advocate. “While the Postal Service has tons of products and services to help make your holiday mailing and shipping simpler than ever before, the best advice is to start early.”

To make sure those precious gifts get to those loved ones in time for the big day, the Postal Service reminds folks about several deadlines to ensure delivery.

The first is coming up fast. Monday, Dec. 3 is the last day you can send a Priority Mail International package and have it arrive in time for Christmas, and Tuesday, Dec. 11 is the last day to send an Express Mail International package and have it at the destination by Christmas.

If you ship by parcel post, Dec. 15 is the deadline for Christmas delivery. If you have a loved one serving in the military, Dec. 17 is the last day you can ship for Christmas arrival.

The week before Christmas is filled with deadlines if you want to ensure your packages arrive in time.  The 19th is the last day for most international shipping for Christmas arrival; the 20th is the last day to send First-Class Mail if you want to get it there before Christmas; the 21st is the last day to send Priority Mail for Christmas arrival; and the 22nd is the last day for most Express Mail packages to be shipped for Christmas arrival.

The Postal Service also reminds us that the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy still is affecting delivery in parts of the northeastern U.S.

As you check off your holiday gift list this season, here are some helpful tips from the Postal Service to make sure your gifts arrive safely:

• Remove batteries from toys and other electronic devices. Wrap and place them next to the item in the mailing box. Customers should include the new batteries in the manufacturer’s packaging.

• Place a card inside the package that contains both the delivery and return addresses. This ensures the safe return of an item that could not be delivered should the mailing label become damaged or fall off.

• Include both “to” and “from” information on packages — and only on one side.

• Always use a return address, which tells the Postal Service where to return mail if it cannot be delivered.

• Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents.

• Do not reuse mailing boxes as they can weaken in the shipping process.

• Stuff glass and fragile, hollow items, like vases, with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage.

• When mailing framed photographs, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately.