Get your package there on time
The U.S. Postal Service recommends the following mail-by dates to ensure on- time arrival:
Dec. 15: Parcel post
Dec. 20: First-class mail
Dec. 21: Priority mail
Dec. 22: Express mail
As Hall County enters the midst of the holiday season, the clock is ticking to get those letters and packages shipped out.
The U.S. Postal Service has some firm deadlines for when packages need to be shipped to get to their destinations by Christmas.
First-class packages to many overseas destinations, for example, are due today.
An estimated 16 billion cards, letters and packages will be mailed from Thanksgiving through Christmas across the nation this year, said Michael Miles, a spokesman for the Atlanta district USPS.
Around the holidays, Miles said the post office tends to see a high volume of food items, such as cake and candy.
He's also seen a number of family heirlooms shipped, and he stresses these should be packed carefully.
"You can ship virtually anything up to 70 pounds, as long as the girth is within 108 inches," Miles said.
When Christmas falls on a Saturday, as it does this year, the Monday before is usually the busiest mailing day, he added. That day will be Dec. 20 this year.
Miles recommends people take care when packing certain items. Use a sturdy box, pad fragile items so nothing shakes around and seal the package with pressure-sensitive tape. Wrapping the box in string won't cut it.
If sending toys, make sure the batteries are removed so nothing turns on during travel, he said.
"As the package gets jostled it could start humming or buzzing and cause unnecessary concern," Miles said.
Miles also recommends including an extra address label on the inside of the package so the shipper will know where to send the items if the label falls off.
Explosives and flammable or hazardous materials cannot be shipped, and Miles said people can call their local post office if they're unsure about their shipment. People commonly ask each year if they can ship wine, Miles said, but it isn't allowed.
"It has to do with the fragility of it. It could be damaged," he said.
This year, Miles said people can avoid the lines at the post office by visiting usps.com. From the website people can order boxes, which are delivered free of charge.
"People can also arrange to have them picked up by their carrier," Miles said.
He advises that customers have any first-class holiday packages to the post office by Dec. 20.
The earlier people plan ahead, the more and cheaper options they have, he said.