The Postal Service projects to deliver 15 billion pieces of mail this holiday season, including 420 million packages – a 12 percent increase over last year.
The Omaha Post Office has released its suggested mail-by dates and tips to help customers mail and ship conveniently for the holidays.
Holiday cards and packages destined for military addresses in Afghanistan should be in the mail no later than Dec. 3.
The mail-by date for all other military addresses is Dec. 10. To help the families and friends of U.S. military personnel, the Postal Service offers a $2 discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes.
For international destinations, mail-by dates range from Dec. 2 to Dec. 12 depending on the destination, with Global Express Guaranteed service available through Dec. 18 for most countries (Dec. 19 if mailing to Canada).
Suggested mail-by dates for cards and packages destined for U.S. addresses are: Dec. 14 for Standard Post; Dec. 20 for First-Class Mail, Dec. 21 for Priority Mail, and Dec. 23 for Priority Mail Express.
Monday, Dec. 16 is projected to be the busiest mailing day of the year and Dec. 19 the busiest delivery day for packages. Some features added to Priority Mail this year include free insurance up to $50, improved tracking, and an expected delivery date.
Omaha Postmaster Keith Reid, says the best advice he can give busy customers is to mail early and ship from home for the holidays.
Many Post Offices now offer greeting cards and gift cards – the single most requested holiday gift.
Tips for Holiday Mailing and Shipping
Confirm addresses. Print addresses clearly and be sure to include all address elements — apartment numbers, suite numbers and directional information for streets. For example: 123 S Main St. or 12456 Elm St. N. Include both “to” and “from” information on packages — and only on one side. Never guess a ZIP Code. Visit usps.com to find all ZIP Codes, buy stamps, and more.
Choose the Right Box. Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Be careful when reusing boxes – they can weaken in the shipping process. Customers can purchase ReadyPost boxes at a local Post Office or at the Postal Store on usps.com. Priority Mail boxes, envelopes and tubes are free.
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Cushion contents with shredded or rolled newspaper, bubble wrap or foam peanuts. Popped popcorn in a bag is an eco-friendly cushion for fragile gifts. Pack contents tightly to avoid shifting during transit. Always use tape that is designed for shipping. Do not use wrapping paper or string, as they can become entangled in mail processing equipment. .
Use envelopes. Lightweight paper folded into a self-mailer can cause problems for automated mail processing machines. Customers are encouraged to place such letters into an envelope before mailing. Those wanting to fold their greetings into a self-mailer should bring a sample to the Post Office to ensure it meets mailing standards.
Send gift cards in a padded envelope. Avoid putting several photographs or gift cards in an envelope with your holiday card. It makes the envelope less flexible to go through the postal system. It’s best to send additional items in a separate, padded envelope.
To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by Dec. 25, send cards and packages no later than the mailing dates listed below.