Don't delay mailing cards, packages
JANESVILLE Christmas is the busiest time of the year for the U.S. Postal Service.
"During the holiday season, 17.9 billion cards, letters and packages will be mailed between Thanksgiving and New Year's nationwide," said Jon Buchholz, Janesville postmaster.
"We had a big push starting Monday and (the number of) our packages really picked up over the weekend," he added. "Today (Nov. 27) will be a heavy package day because of all the stuff shipped out over the weekend by companies."
The busiest day for mailing cards and packages will be Monday, Dec. 17, Buchholz said.
To make sure Christmas cards and letters arrive at their U.S. destinations on time, he said they should be mailed by Dec. 20. He also outlined other important dates so packages you're mailing—in or outside the country—arrive in time for Christmas.
And remember: The longer you wait, the more expensive it gets.
Priority international mail should be sent by Monday, Dec. 3, because it takes six to 10 business days to arrive and costs $12.95 and higher.
Express international mail, which should be sent by Dec. 11, takes three to five business days to be delivered and costs $29.25 and higher
Global express mail, which costs at least $44, should be sent by Dec. 17, and takes one to three business days to get to its destination.
Last-minute shoppers also can get packages to their U.S. destinations in time for Christmas if they use priority mail by Dec. 21 or express mail by Dec. 22.
Priority mail takes two to three days and starts at a cost of around $5.15. Express mail is delivered overnight to most locations and costs at least $18.95.
"If at all possible, I wouldn't wait until the last minute," Buchholz warns.
"The sooner the better. These are dates we feel confident items will show up on time. But this time of year you have to take into account the weather. A snowstorm or ice can delay or slow down the mail."
The Janesville Post Office will not offer extended hours during the holiday season.
"Our normal windows hours are between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday," Buchholz said.
"The lobby is open 24/7 where we have an automated postal center and with credit/debit cards a person can ship packages out of there and buy stamps."
Buchholz also offered these additional Christmas mailing tips:
-- Visit the U.S. Postal Services' website at usps.com.
-- Download the Postal Services' free mobile app at usps.com/cheer.
-- Use well-taped, rigid boxes for mailing packages.
-- Clearly print mailing and return addresses.
-- Remove all markings on boxes to avoid confusion.
-- Use only one return address, and put it on the front of the package.
-- Clearly mark fragile packages in large letters, cushion the items well and fill extra space with packing material to avoid shifting.
-- Insert another mailing label inside the package noting its destination and the sender's address in case the outside package label gets damaged or is unreadable.
-- Always use proper tape—no string or masking tape that can get caught in mail sorting machines.
-- Ask for a delivery confirmation receipt so you will know if your package arrived, and so you have a way to track it.
-- Finally, buy insurance if you're mailing something valuable.
"It's worth it," Buchholz said.