The Thanksgiving turkey has been carved and eaten and the realization of another holiday season being fully underway has been digested.
Along with the traditional feasts and family bonding also comes the busiest shipping and mailing time of the year.
In preparation, the U.S. Postal Service has announced its holiday mailing and shipping deadlines for domestic and international destinations — encouraging customers to ship as soon as possible, particularly for those who hope to have their cards, letters, and packages at its desired location by Christmas.
The Postal Service says its key shipping dates for Christmas delivery are Dec. 15 for packages that will be sent priority mail express international or standard post; Dec. 20 for first-class mail; Dec. 21 for priority mail and global express guaranteed delivery; and Dec. 23 for priority mail express.
For those shipping packages to U.S. military members, APO/FPO first-class mail letters and cards and APO/FPO priority mail deadlines are Dec. 9.
There’s a Dec. 16 deadline for those shipping APO/FPO priority mail express military service.
Further, there are several Forever holiday stamps for customers to choose from, including Holiday Windows; Diwali; Eid; Hanukkah; Kwanzaa; Madonna and Child; and Nativity.
It’s estimated that 16 billion pieces of mail and packages will be delivered through the Postal Service from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, said spokeswoman Sue Brennan.
Of those, about 750 million will be packages — up 12 percent from last holiday — and, in many areas, delivery packages will occur seven days per week to facilitate extra volume.
Peak delivery day is Dec. 22, when more than 30 million packages will get to their destinations. An additional 35,000 seasonal employees will be hired to process and deliver the increased mail, Brennan said.
Postal Service officials also have provided tips on successful ways to package and ship items.
Among the tips for packaging is to pick a strong and sturdy box and tape it closed tightly, cushion contents to protect them during transportation, and wrap glass and other fragile items with extra newspaper or packing material.
Place wrapped gift boxes inside a plain larger box; remove all batteries from electronics; and remember to place an extra shipping label inside the box, so the item can be returned in case the box or label gets damaged.
Shipping tips include printing the address of the destination clearly and in capital letters; include complete “to” and “from” information; check usps.com for the correct ZIP Code and never guess at it; be sure to label a box as “fragile” if it needs to be handled with extra care; and visit usps.com to pay and print postage and schedule a pickup, or drop off your gift for delivery at the Post Office.
For a complete list of do’s and don’ts, visit www.usps.com.