The holiday season is all about peace, love and barely restrained chaos. You’re prepared to battle the crowds at the malls, double check your list and curl up next to the fire with a cup of an eggnog and your favorite holiday movie, but you’re forgetting two words that need to be added to your holiday to-do vocabulary: post office.
If the very mention of the place induces panic you’re not alone. The U.S. Postal Service is expecting to help customers ship 15.5 billion cards, letters and packages in time for Christmas. Before the full-fledged post office freak-out sets in and you’re staring down a line of 50 with barely constrained terror heed our shipping tips. Think of it as your panic free guide to holiday shipping, eggnog sadly not included.
Mind the Deadlines
Santa has reindeer to guide him through unpredictable weather. USPS does not and unpredictable weather is one of the biggest factors in delayed deliveries. Send those packages early and mind the deadlines. To ensure that holiday mail and packages are delivered in time for Christmas, USPS recommends:
Dec. 1 – First-Class Mail International
Dec. 1 – Priority Mail International
Dec. 8 – Priority Mail Express International
Dec. 15 – Standard Post
Dec. 19 – Global Express Guaranteed
Dec. 19 – First-Class Mail
Dec. 21 – Priority Mail
Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express
Print out postage online, order free flat rate boxes and even schedule packages to be picked up at your door. All you need is a computer, Internet connection and printer to skip the post office entirely.
Stalk Your Packages
Track your incoming and outgoing packages online. You can sign up for text and email alerts through my.usps.com, have a package redirected or schedule a delivery.
Pack and Address Smart
Is there such a thing as fragile when it comes to shipping? Sometimes a gift card really is the best option. However, when shipping actual things make sure you’ve chosen a sturdy box, cushioned the contents and securely closed it. And don’t forget to write legibly. The USPS uses a computerized system to read and sort mail, making the process quicker unless it can’t be read.
Buying insurance can be a good investment. It’s not about not trusting USPS to not lose your package, it’s about how much you trust the other customers. You’ve checked usps.com to verify the items that you can ship, but you have no idea if that woman in the front of the line is trying to ship eggnog that will invariably leak all over your priceless picture to grandma.