By Lindsay Owens Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Cutoffs to send holiday cards and packages are nearing if you plan to use your local branch of the United States Postal Service.
Many deadlines for sending cards and other items have already lapsed but some options are still available when you use USPS.
Most deadlines for sending packages and cards to military personal were Dec. 10 but packages can be sent by Priority Mail Express Military up until Dec. 17 in most cases to many APO/FPO/DPO addresses.
The postal service recommends using a large Priority Mail flat rate box for those wishing to send packages to members of the military.
“Anyone who sends boxes to those in the service will get a $2 per box discount for military mail being sent APO, FPO, or DPO. The boxes are $14.85,” said Mary Dando, head of U.S. Postal Service Corporate Communications for the Greater Indiana District.
“Military Care Kits” are also available through the postal service. The kits include six boxes in three different sizes, Priority Mail tape, Priority Mail address labels and appropriate customs forms. The kits can be ordered by calling 1-800-610-8734.
For domestic mail, the final day to ship will be Dec. 23 using Priority Mail Express. The cutoff for First Class mail, which includes cards and letters, is Dec. 20.
Dando said that overall the USPS is anticipating a 12 percent increase in the amount of packages it will process and the busiest day of the year is yet to come.
“Monday will be the busiest day for mail and we are anticipating 600 million pieces of mail to be processed and 6 million people will visit their local post office,” said Dando.
On average, during the holiday season 545 million pieces of mail are processed each day but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to the post office to mail their items.
“We have a website, www.usps.com, that gives customers a lot of information. They can also save a trip to the post office by using Click-N-Ship,” said Dando.
“Click-N-Ship” option allows customers to print a mailing label from home then drop their package off at the post office or schedule a carrier pick up from home. Online prices for the various delivery options are slightly cheaper than the post office prices.
Prices for Priority Mail express flat rate, which offers overnight delivery to most domestic locations, starts at just over $18 online and $19.95 at the post office.
Standard Post offers delivery in two to eight days in most domestic locations and is available only at the post office. Shipping costs start at $5.60.
Priority Mail flat rate options include one to three day delivery for all boxes regardless of the size. Small boxes start at $5.15 online and $5.80 at the post office. Medium boxes ship for $11.30 online and $12.35 at the post office.
Large boxes are $15.30 online and $16.85 at the post office.
“There’s still time to get things in the mail, but not much time,” said Dando.
While many post offices will offer special holiday hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and be closed Christmas and New Years day, Dando said all Priority Mail Express packages will still be delivered on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
In addition to USPS mail and packages, many online shoppers may have noticed the postal service is delivering packages from FedEx and UPS.
“We partner with UPS and FedEx throughout the year and most of the UPS Ground packages are delivered by the postal service,” said Dando. “And Express Priority Mail is often sent out on FedEx planes.”
“Many businesses use USPS because it is still the cheapest way to ship especially for items ordered online through businesses like Amazon,” she said.
Cutoffs for holiday mail delivery via the United States Post Office Military Mail Addressed to APO/FPO/DPO - Dec. 17 (check with the post office for exceptions) Domestic Mail First-Class - Dec. 20 Priority - Dec. 21 Priority Mail Express - Dec. 23 Standard Post - Dec. 14 DNDC Drop Ship - Dec. 19 DDU Drop Ship - Dec. 21