Holiday Mailing Tips From your U.S. Postal Service

November 30, 2012 Updated Nov 30, 2012 at 10:48 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Holiday Mailing Tips From your U.S. Postal Service

November 30, 2012 Updated Nov 30, 2012 at 10:48 AM EDT

WNY (WKBW/Release) - The Postal Service is projecting Monday, December 17 as the busiest mailing day.

The Postal Service anticipates delivering approximately 17.9 billion letters, cards and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

The two Western New York District Processing & Distribution Centers (Buffalo and Rochester) will handle, in total, about 85 million letters and cards this holiday season; the Rochester Logistics & Distribution Center approximately 5.8 million packages.

Western NY District Manager Kathleen Burns offers this advice to holiday mailers, “Mail early – in the season and the day for the most shipping choices and shortest lines. And use the Calculate a Price feature at our usps.com website to explore shipping options, estimate delivery times and price. It takes the guess work out of shipping.”

Here are other tips to make this mailing season easier.

Avoid the rush and mail early!
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.

Stamps
There are a number of Forever holiday stamps for customers to choose from, including the Santa & Sleigh, Holy Family, Hanukkah, Eid and Kwanzaa.

Holiday stamps can be delivered to any address when ordered through www.usps.com, by calling 800-STAMP-24 or by completing a Stamps-By-Mail form (available from mail carriers).

Holiday stamps can be purchased at the local Post Office, an Automated Postal Center (see list below) or at one of over 200 Buffalo/Niagara grocery and convenient stores, pharmacies and banks. Call 1-800-ASK-USPS or go to usps.com and click on Find Locations to locate the closest stamp retailer.

Shipping
Go to www.usps.com to find shipping deals and save as much as 14% over retail Post Office prices. Plus get free packaging, free Delivery Confirmation (proof of delivery) and a free Carrier Pickup without leaving home.

For simple shipping, use Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes. Postage on Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes is the same low rate to any state, and the boxes are available (FREE) in different sizes, with prices starting as low as $5.30:
Small Flat Rate box at $5.30
Medium Flat Rate box shipping at $11.35
Large Flat Rate box at $15.45 ($13.45 when shipping to military personnel at APO/FPO addresses overseas)

Deadlines – For a full list of domestic, military and international deadlines, please go to www.usps.com.

The U.S. Postal Service recommends the following mail-by dates so that holiday cheer arrives safely and on time:

Dec. 3 Military mail destined for Afghanistan
Dec. 10 Military mail for other overseas bases
December 14 Parcel Post
December 20 First-Class Mail
December 21 Priority Mail
December 22 Express Mail

Convenience Options and Services
Self Service Kiosks can be found at the following locations and are available 24/7.

Don’t wait in line during the busy holiday mailing season! At a Self Service Kiosk, you can mail packages, purchase stamps, and more:

BUFFALO:
Amherst Branch, 5500 N Bailey Avenue
Cayuga Branch, 285 Cayuga Road
Cheektowaga Branch, 125 Galleria Drive
Northside Station, 725 Hertel Avenue
West Seneca Branch, 4300 Seneca Street
Williamsville Branch, 5423 Sheridan Drive
Getzville Post Office, 2655 Millersport Highway
Grand Island Post Office, 2391 Baseline Road
Hamburg Post Office, 5501 Camp Road
Lockport Post Office, 138 East Avenue
Niagara Falls/LaSalle Branch, 9860 Niagara Falls Boulevard
Orchard Park Post Office, 60 School Street

Note: the Cayuga Branch, 285 Cayuga Road has retail service available from 7 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday.

Addressing Tips – Here is how to properly address your holiday greeting cards:

Write, type, or print legibly the complete address in the middle of the envelope.

Always use a complete delivery address, including directionals (North, South, East, West), street designators (is it Street, Avenue, Road, etc.), and apartment, room, or suite numbers, and the correct ZIP Code.

Don’t guess at a ZIP Code if you don’t know it. Call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or go to www.usps.com for the correct ZIP Code of any address in the country.

Always use your return address in the upper left corner.

Packaging Tips – To protect your packages and to allow the USPS to process and deliver them on time and in good condition, here are some simple rules to follow:

Select a box that’s strong enough for the weight of the contents.
Cushion the contents completely, leaving no pockets. Use crumpled up newspaper, bubble wrap, or other cushioning material. If you shake the sealed container and the contents rattle, you haven’t cushioned them enough.

Inside the box, enclose a card with a list of the contents and the sender’s and recipient’s respective addresses.

Address the package on one side only using a complete delivery address, and make sure you put your return address in the upper left corner.

Seal the box with a filament or mailing tape designed for shipping, and never use string or twine.

Remove batteries from toys and other items and pack them separately.

Packages that weigh over 13 oz. with postage paid using stamps cannot be mailed in a collection box and must be taken to a retail counter of a Post Office to follow FAA compliance regulations.

For additional information on packaging, visit the USPS web site at www.usps.com or call 1-800- ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

Do you need mailing boxes? “Ready Post” packaging materials, including boxes, tape, and padding are available at the Post Office at competitive prices.

For those customers using Express Mail Service (overnight to most metropolitan areas) and Priority Mail Service (2-3 days on average to most domestic locations), FREE boxes, envelopes and tubes are available for certain size items.

Insurance against loss or damage and Delivery Confirmation Service are also available and highly recommended.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.