The United States Postal Service, or USPS, has released guidelines to ensure that your holiday packages and cards get to their destination in time.
Whether you’re mailing items for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or other holiday traditions, the earlier you can send your items, the better off you’ll be.
Although the postal service expects the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery period to be from December 12-17, postal officials anticipate a steady stream of gifts and cards traveling to front steps and mailboxes throughout the season.
According to the USPS, roughly 149 million people will visit its website this season, and nearly 250 million customers will visit post office locations throughout the U.S. over the next few weeks.
For items shipped to and from the continental U.S. through the United States Postal Service, December 17 is the deadline to ensure delivery by Christmas Day for retail ground service and first-class mail service. December 19 and December 23 are the deadlines for priority mail service and priority mail express service, respectively.
USPS spokesperson Sue Brennan advised customers to check www.usps.com/holidaynews for postal updates throughout the season. The site also includes holiday guidance for international mail along with military and diplomatic overseas shipping deadlines.
“The postal service has been preparing for the holiday season all year, and we are ready to deliver,” Brennan said.
Postal employees are advising customers to place a card inside the package with delivery and return addresses, use quality shipping tape when sealing boxes and ensure the package weighs no more than 70 pounds.
It’s not all about the hustle and bustle of getting those holiday cards out and sending off gifts that you’ve packaged just right, though.
USPS is also offering a couple of programs this season to enhance the magic of Christmas for children.
North Pole Postmark
This program aims to add a dash of authenticity when Santa replies to mail from children with a postmark from the North Pole. The deadline to send letters in this program is December 10.
To participate, follow these steps:
NORTH POLE POSTMARK
4141 POSTMARK DR
ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998
USPS Operation Santa
This 110-year-old program allows people to help spread the joy of Christmas to those who may be facing challenging times.
Starting November 28, individuals or groups can visit uspsoperationsanta.com to register and then read through letters that children and families in need have written to Saint Nick.
The opportunity is then given to “adopt” a letter writer and send a gift that will arrive to the child or family from Santa.