Better get your holiday packages ready, because the U.S. Postal Service deadlines to make sure your gifts show up in time for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are rapidly approaching.
Post office employees are currently hard at work sorting gifts and holiday cards to send them across the country in time to be opened by beloved friends and family.
The first mailing deadline to take note of is Thursday, Dec. 15, the final day you can send off mail by USPS Retail Ground to ensure it reaches its destination in time for the holidays. First-class mail must be sent by Tuesday, Dec. 20; Priority Mail must be sent by Wednesday, Dec. 21; and Priority Mail Express shipments can be sent as late as Friday, Dec. 23 and still be there in time for Christmas.
According to Freda Sauter, of USPS, Monday, Dec. 19 is expected to be the busiest mailing day of the year for greeting cards and packages, with Dec. 22 serving as the busiest delivery day for greeting cards and packages.
The post office in Westminster filled up midday Thursday, as many decided to pop over during their lunch breaks to mail their gifts and cards to loved ones they won't get a chance to see this holiday season.
Mary Desmond, of Westminster, came out to send about 90 Christmas cards, as well as some packages, to friends and family from Long Island to Florida. Desmond said she was good this year and made it out to the post office in time, though in past years she's had to race out after procrastinating.
Those planning a trip to the post office to send out their packages should plan strategically. Though the line stretched back to include more than a dozen people at 1 p.m., by 2 p.m., the post office had nearly emptied out.
USPS is anticipating a 12 percent increase in package volume this year, with an estimated 16 billion pieces of mail and packages delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.
The post office has several tips for those sending out cards and packages to make sure that they arrive safely at their destination on time. They request that addresses are printed clearly; batteries be removed from toys; include both to and from information on the same side of the label, and they suggest customers place a card inside the package in case the mailing label becomes damaged or falls off. In addition to these tips, they caution that no ZIP code is worse than a wrong ZIP code. To find your delivery's ZIP code, use the ZIP Code Finder available at usps.com.
Thursday, Dec. 15: Last day to ship USPS Retail Ground
Tuesday, Dec. 20: Last day to ship First-Class Mail
Wednesday, Dec. 21: Last day to ship Priority Mail
Friday, Dec. 23: Last day to ship Priority Mail Express
Monday, Dec. 19: Last day to ship UPS 3 Day Select
Wednesday, Dec. 21: Last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air packages
Thursday, Dec. 22: Last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air packages with Saturday Delivery option
Friday, Dec. 23: Last day to ship UPS Next Day Air packages with Saturday delivery option
Monday, Dec. 12: Last day to ship FedEx SmartPost
Wednesday, Dec. 14: Last day to ship FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery shipments to Alaska or Hawaii
Friday, Dec. 16: Last day to ship FedEx Ground
Thursday, Dec. 23: Last day to ship FedEx 2Day
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Friday, Dec. 23: Last day to ship FedEx First Overnight and FedEx Priority Overnight. A $16 Saturday delivery fee will apply.