There's still time to mail items for the holidays

US Postal Service Sales and Service Associate Penny Richards says don't wait any longer to send Christmas packages. 

If you’ve been procrastinating on getting a present shipped, it’s time to act because the deadline for sending items for estimated delivery before Dec. 25 is fast approaching. In fact, the week of Dec. 16 is expected to be the busiest time for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to receive and deliver packages.

Penny Richards, the lead sales and service associate at the Fort Payne Post Office, said posted signage there advises customers that they have up to Dec. 20 to send a package via First-Class Package Service, but the computer systems were recommending this actually be completed two days earlier due to adjustments that are made to meet changing conditions.

“We are already seeing [U.S. Postal Service] computers tell us that stuff that used to be two days is now showing up as four because we have such a huge volume,” Richards said. “Express mail is generally overnight, but many areas are two days, even during the regular time of year. I’d back all of this up an extra day if [I was the one shipping a package that needs to arrive before Christmas]. You better get here by Monday or Tuesday, Dec. 16-17. The only problem is that everybody does that. People think, ‘Well, I guess I’d just better go down there and see.’ They’ll find that we are slammed, and they will have to stand in line.”

USPS is ready to deliver more than 28 million packages per day between Dec. 16-21, and USPS predicts it will handle 2.5 billion pieces of First-Class Mail this holiday season, according to a press release. This includes about 15 million pounds of mail for the Department of Defense.

They recommend the following mailing and shipping deadlines for expected delivery by Dec. 25:

• Dec. 14 – USPS Retail Ground Service®

• Dec. 18 – Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express

• Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail (including greeting cards)

• Dec. 20 – First-Class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)

• Dec. 21 – Priority Mail

• Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express

Additional time is recommended for mail sent to Alaska and Hawaii, and actual delivery dates may vary depending on origin, destination, Post Office acceptance date and time and other conditions.

To make the process go more smoothly, USPS recommends using free Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes available at a local Post Office or online at Their “Click-N-Ship” service lets users create shipping labels and pay for postage online.

Free package pickup is available when the carrier delivers mail. One change this year, however, is USPS will no longer accept for carrier pick up or dropping into a collection box any mail or packages weighing more than 10 ounces or more than a half-inch thick that use stamps as postage. Users are directed to instead take them to a window clerk at a Post Office.

USPS processes and delivers 47 percent of the world’s mail. UPS and FedEx both pay the Postal Service to deliver hundreds of millions of their ground packages, while USPS pays United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx for transporting items by air.

Dec. 13 is the final day UPS commits to for normal delivery by ground before Christmas with air shipments requiring upgraded service after Dec. 16. UPS 2nd Day Air® and UPS 3 Day Select® shipments are guaranteed throughout the holiday season. FedEx offers SameDay® service 365 days a year for urgent shipments and allows for OnSite pickups or delivery from Walgreens stores.

USPS is ready to deliver more than 28 million packages per day between Dec. 16-21, according to a press release. A projected 800 million package deliveries are made by USPS alone between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. They expanded Sunday deliver to locations with high volumes of packages.

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