The U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver more than 15 billion pieces of holiday mail, including more than 850 million packages, this season. That window started Nov. 26 and ends New Year’s Day.
With an increase in early and online shopping for gifts, there is no longer a busiest day for holiday shipping. Instead, the Postal Service’s busiest time is now two weeks before Christmas. Starting the week of Dec. 11, customer traffic is expected to increase, with the week of Dec. 18 to 24 predicted to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week. That week, nearly 3 billion pieces of first-class mail, including greeting cards, will be processed and delivered, the Postal Service says.
While there may not be a busiest day for shipping this year, the Postal Service anticipates that Dec. 18 will be the Postal Service’s busiest day online with more than 7 million customers predicted to visit usps.com for help shipping gifts.
The Postal Service offers a new feature this year to help you track and schedule package delivery. Its Informed Delivery tool not only allows you to see your incoming mail and packages, it also allows you to reschedule delivery of your packages to ensure you’re able to be home to receive them.
The Postal Service recommends the following mailing and shipping deadlines:
▪ Dec. 11: APO/FPO/DPO Priority Mail and First Class Mail.
▪ Dec. 14: USPS Retail Ground.
▪ Dec. 16: APO/FPO/DPO USPS Priority Mail Express.
▪ Dec. 16: First Class packages (up to 15.99 ounces).
▪ Dec. 19: First Class Mail (including greeting cards).
▪ Dec. 20: Priority Mail.
▪ Dec. 22: Priority Mail Express.
Here are some tips for preparing your packages:
Choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents. Sturdy paperboard or corrugated fiberboard boxes are best for weights up to 10 pounds. If you are reusing a box, totally remove or obliterate all previous labels and markings with heavy black marker.
Place the cushioning all around your item or items. You can use newspaper, foam peanuts or shredded paper. Close and shake the box to see if you have enough cushioning. If you hear items shifting, add more cushioning.
Placing an extra address label with the delivery and return addresses inside the package will ensure that the item can be delivered in case the outside label becomes damaged or falls off.
Use foamed plastic or padding to protect your items, placing the cushioning inside hollow items as well. Mark the package “Fragile” or mark “Perishable” on packages that contain food or other items that can spoil. Careful packaging is the best way to safeguard your valuable items against damage.
If you are mailing a very heavy or very dense item, start with a sturdy box, pack the contents securely with a strong material for bracing to prevent shifting and tape all the edges with reinforced tape. Packages heavier than 70 pounds cannot be mailed by the Postal Service.
Tape the opening of your box and reinforce all seams with 2-inch-wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape. Do not use cord, string, twine, masking or cellophane tape. Place a strip of clear packaging tape over your label to prevent the address from smearing.
Print or type the delivery address parallel to the longest side of the package. Type or print clearly with a pen or permanent marker so that your address is legible from an arm’s length away. Do not use commas or periods.
If your mail item weighs 13 ounces or less and you have affixed correct postage, you can drop it into a blue collection box. If your item weighs more than 13 ounces and you have affixed postage stamps, you must take it to an employee at the retail counter of a post office.