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Are You Ready? The Holiday Mailing Season Is Upon Us

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are quickly approaching. The author provides some tips for shipping packages via the Postal Service as well as the mailing deadlines to ensure your packages reach their recipients on time.

I may be retired from the Postal Service, but I am not retired from the holiday mailing season — just ask my letter carrier. This time of year he is picking up stacks of Christmas cards and packages at my address nearly every day.

Thanksgiving is the first holiday in this the Holiday Season. But if you are mailing international or to your military loved ones, you’ll need to remember the mail-by dates set forth by the Postal Service even before the turkey and dressing is served.

The first deadline is November 14 — APO/FPO Parcel Post Military.

Other mail-by dates:

  • December 3 Priority Mail International;
  • December 10 Priority Mail Military;
  • December 11 Express Mail International;
  • December 14 Parcel Post;
  • December 17 Global Express Guaranteed;
  • December 20 First-Class Mail;
  • December 21 Priority Mail and
  • December 22 Express Mail.

USPS is expecting 365 million packages to be delivered this holiday season — a 20 percent increase over 2011. This is due to the increase in online shopping.

In total, it is predicted that nearly 18 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. That’s a lot of love being mailed, processed and delivered.

The busiest mailing day will be Monday, December 17, when more than 655 million pieces of mail are expected to be processed — compared to 538 on an average day. The busiest delivery day for letters will be Wednesday, December 19 and the busiest day for package delivery will be Thursday, December 20.

A few tips 

The easiest way to purchase postage stamps and ship packages is by using You can buy as few or as many stamps as you want and you will be charged $1.25 to have them delivered to your home or business.

If you are shipping packages, it doesn’t get much easier than Click-N-Ship. Priority Mail, Express Mail, Priority Mail International and Express Mail International labels can be printed online.

Simply weigh your package on your bathroom scale, fill in your return address and the address where you are going to send the package, choose the mailing service you’d like, pay for the postage with a credit or debit card and print the label. After affixing the label to your package, request Carrier Pickup. The next day your city or rural carrier will pick up the package at the location you specify and you’re all set.

You can also order Priority Mail and Express Mail envelopes, boxes and tubes online or pick them up at your local Post Office. They are free.

Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy every minute of this holiday season. And do yourself a favor; make it as stress-free as possible by allowing the Postal Service to deliver your gifts and greetings this year.

About the Author

Marilyn Jones has been a journalist for more than 30 years and is currently a freelance feature writer specializing in travel. Her articles have appeared in major newspapers including the BostonGlobe, Akron Beacon Journal and Chicago Sun-Times as well as regional travel magazines.

Visit her website at