Earlier is better when it comes to mailing packages, cards and letters this holiday season.
That is the recommendation from the United States Postal Service as its carriers prepare to deliver approximately 17.9 million items between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
Kathleen Burns, Western New York district manager, said the main pieces of advice she can give people are mail as soon as possible and check out the post office's website at www.usps.com. 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. The website has all the information people need to know before mailing an item.
OBSERVER?Photo by Shirley Pulawski
Forestville elementary students prepared letters to send to the troops and decorated the post office windows for the holidays Monday morning.
"Mail early - in the season and the day - for the most shipping choices and shortest lines,'' she said. "And use the calculate-a-price feature at our usps.com website to explore shipping options, estimated delivery times and prices. It takes the guesswork out of shipping.''
The Postal Service is projecting Monday, Dec. 17, as the busiest mailing day. The two Western New York District Processing and Distribution centers, located in Buffalo and Rochester, will handle about 85 million letters and cards this holiday season. The Rochester Logistics and Distribution Center will process approximately 5.8 million packages.
The post office recommends several deadlines for shipping packages, internationally or domestically, throughout the month of December. For military mail destined for Afghanistan, the mail-by date was Monday, Dec. 3. For military mail for other overseas bases, the recommended date is Dec. 10. For parcel post, Dec. 14; for first-class mail, Dec. 20; for priority mail, Dec. 21; and Dec. 22 for express mail. For a full list of domestic, military and international deadlines, go to www.usps.com.
There are a number of forever holiday stamps for customers to choose from, including Santa and his sleigh, Holy Family, Hanukkah, Eid and Kwanzaa. Holiday stamps can be delivered to any address when ordered through www.usps.com; by calling 1-800-STAMP-24; or by completing a stamps-by-mail form, which are available from mail carriers. Also, holiday stamps can be purchased at the local post office, at grocery or convenience stores, pharmacies and banks.
One tip for holiday mailing and shipping is have a confirmed address. People should print addresses clearly and be sure to include all address elements like apartment numbers, suite numbers and directional information for streets. Most of all, never guess a ZIP code.
Choose the right box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Leave space for cushioning inside. Do not reuse mailing boxes as they weaken in the shipping process.
Pack delicately by cushioning contents with shredded or rolled newspaper, bubble wrap or foam peanuts. Plain air-popped popcorn also is good for cushioning. Pack contents tightly to avoid shifting during transit. Always use tape that is designed for shipping, such as pressure-sensitive tape, nylon-reinforced craft paper tape or glass-reinforced pressure-sensitive tape. Do not use wrapping paper, string, masking tape, duct tape or cellophane tape.
The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.