Mail holiday gifts, greetings now to ensure timely delivery

12/13/2013, 6 a.m.

The D-Day of holiday mailings is fast approaching.

The U.S. Postal Service says 15 billion pieces of mail will be delivered this holiday season, and Dec. 16 is expected to be the busiest mailing day of the year.

As Christmas Day nears, it is urging residents to mail those holiday gifts and greetings now.

In a Dec. 11 news release, the Postal Service says it anticipates processing 545 million pieces of mail every day throughout the season.

More than 600 million pieces will be processed on Monday, when 6 million customers are projected to visit post offices nationwide.

For stress-free holiday mailings, the Postal Service offers these tips:

n Confirm addresses

Print addresses clearly and in all CAPS and be sure to include all address elements – apartment numbers, suite numbers and directional information for streets. Include both “to” and “from” information on packages on the front of the letters and packages, and never guess a ZIP code. Visit usps.com to find all ZIP codes.

n Choose the right box

Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Leave space for cushioning inside. Do not reuse mailing boxes – they weaken in the shipping process. Customers can purchase ReadyPost boxes at a local post office or at usps.com. Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express boxes, envelopes and tubes are free.

n Pack delicately

Cushion contents with shredded or rolled newspaper, bubble wrap or foam peanuts. Plain air-popped popcorn also is good for cushioning – it’s inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Pack contents tightly to avoid shifting during transit. Use pressure-sensitive tape, nylon-reinforced craft paper tape or glass-reinforced pressure-sensitive tape for shipping. Do not use wrapping paper, string, masking tape, duct tape or cellophane tape.

Mail-by dates

To ensure that holiday mail and packages arrive on time, mail by these deadlines:

Dec. 14 – Standard Post/Priority Mail Express International

Dec. 16 – Global Express Guaranteed

Dec. 17 – Priority Mail Express Military Service

Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail

Dec. 21 – Priority Mail

Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express

For more information, visit usps.com/holidaynews.