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Holiday mailing tips from the U.S. Postal Service

December 12, 2012
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

The holiday season is here, and local post offices and mail processing centers are gearing up for the busiest time of the year. The U.S. Postal Service is projecting Monday, Dec. 17 as the busiest mailing day.

The postal service anticipates delivering approximately 17.9 billion letters, cards and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

The two Western New York District Processing and Distribution Centers in Buffalo and Rochester will handle, in total, about 85 million letters and cards this holiday season and the Rochester Logistics and Distribution Center approximately 5.8 million packages.

"Mail early in the season and the day for the most shipping choices and shortest lines," Western NY District Manager Kathleen Burns said. "And use the Calculate a Price feature at our website to explore shipping options, estimate delivery times and prices. It takes the guess work out of shipping."

Here are other tips to make this mailing season easier.

Avoid the rush and mail early: Mailing early in the season offers customers the most shipping options as well as avoidance of possible delays caused by bad weather that shuts down airports and surface transportation.

Stamps: There are a number of Forever holiday stamps for customers to choose from, including the Santa and sleigh, holy family, Hanukkah, Eid and Kwanzaa; Holiday stamps can be delivered to any address when ordered through, by calling 800-STAMP-24 or by completing a stamps-by-mail form available from mail carriers: Holiday stamps can be purchased at the local post office or at many grocery and convenient stores, pharmacies and banks. Call 1-800-ASK-USPS or go to and click on Find Locations to locate the closest stamp retailer.

Shipping: Go to to find shipping deals and save as much as 14 percent over retail post office prices. Plus get free packaging, free delivery confirmation and a free carrier pickup without leaving home: For simple shipping, use priority mail flat rate boxes. Postage on priority mail flat rate boxes is the same low rate to any state, and the boxes are available in different sizes, with prices starting as low as $5.30 for small flat rate boxes, $11.35 for medium flat rate boxes, $15.45 for large flat rate boxes and $13.45 when shipping to military personnel at APO/FPO addresses overseas.

Deadlines: For a full list of domestic, military and international deadlines, go to The U.S. Postal Service recommends the following mail-by dates so that holiday cheer arrives safely and on time - Military mail for other overseas bases by Dec. 10; Parcel Post by Dec. 14; First-Class Mail by Dec. 20; Priority Mail by Dec. 21; and Express Mail by Dec. 22.

Addressing Tips: Here is how to properly address your holiday greeting cards - write, type, or print legibly the complete address in the middle of the envelope; always use a complete delivery address, including directionals such as North, South, East, West, street designators such as Street, Avenue, Road, etc., apartment, room, or suite numbers, and the correct ZIP Code; don't guess at a ZIP Code. Call 1-800-ASK-USPS or go to for the correct ZIP Code of any address in the country; and always use the return address in the upper left corner.

Packaging Tips: To protect your packages and to allow the USPS to process and deliver them on time and in good condition, here are some simple rules to follow - select a box that's strong enough for the weight of the contents; cushion the contents completely, leaving no pockets. Use crumpled up newspaper, bubble wrap or other cushioning material. If the contents rattle when the sealed container is shaken, there is not enough cushion; inside the box, enclose a card with a list of the contents and the sender's and recipient's respective addresses; address the package on one side only using a complete delivery address, and make sure to put the return address in the upper left corner; seal the box with a filament or mailing tape designed for shipping, and never use string or twine; remove batteries from toys and other items and pack them separately; packages weighing over 13 ounces with postage paid using stamps cannot be mailed in a collection box and must be taken to a retail counter of a post office to follow FAA compliance regulations.

For additional information on packaging, visit the USPS web site at or call 1-800- ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

Do you need mailing boxes? "Ready Post" packaging materials, including boxes, tape and padding are available at the post office at competitive prices. For those customers using Express Mail Service - overnight to most metropolitan areas - and Priority Mail Service - two to three days on average to most domestic locations - free boxes, envelopes and tubes are available for certain size items.

Insurance against loss or damage and delivery confirmation service are also available and highly recommended.

The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.



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