Christmas Mailing Tips From the Post Office

Christmas Mailing Tips From the Post Office


The men and women who work for the United States Postal Service (USPS) are in the midst of their annual holiday season crunch. Americans are expected to ship more than 16 billion greeting cards, letters and packages over the coming weeks, with most people hoping to get their items in the hands of recipients before Christmas Day.

This annual undertaking, which strains a financially challenged independently funded government entity, manages to get the job done when customers follow shipping guidelines. To help our readers out, we’ve decided to share some tips forwarded to us by the USPS for this holiday season.

Helpful packaging tips:

  • Make sure packages can withstand processing without the contents or box breaking.
  • Cushion items with bubble wrap and foam peanuts so they do not shift during transit.
  • Wrap each item separately when packing more than one item in the same box.
  • Remove batteries from electronic devices and wrap separately.
  • Use new boxes when possible. When reusing a box make sure previous labels and markings are covered before mailing.
  • Place an extra address label with the delivery and return address inside the package. This ensures the safe return of an item that could not be delivered should the outside label become damaged or fall off.
  • Always use tape designed for sealing shipping boxes. Do not use string, cellophane or masking tape to seal packages.
  • Packages can weigh up to 70 lbs. and measure up to 130 inches in combined length and width. Make sure the width is measured around the largest point of the package.

Guidelines for addressing envelopes and packages:

  • Print complete address clearly.
  • A complete address includes:

the recipient’s name
Post Office Box or street number
street name
suffix (AVE., ST, LN, etc.)
directional (N, E, S, W)
secondary address (apartment or suite number)
city, state and 5-digit ZIP Code
example: 123 S MAIN ST APT 4 WASHINGTON DC 20001

  • Use the proper ZIP Code. ZIP Codes can be found at or by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS. Never guess at the ZIP Code. No ZIP Code is better than a wrong ZIP Code.
  • Print the delivery and return addresses on the same side of the envelope or package.
  • Always use a return address. It tells the Postal Service where to return mail if it cannot be delivered.

The Postal Service recommends the following mail-by dates to ensure your gift arrives on time:

Dec. 4 — Military mail destined for Iraq or Afghanistan (late!)
Dec. 15 — Parcel Post
Dec. 20 — First-Class Mail
Dec. 21 — Priority Mail, the best bargain in shipping
Dec. 22 — Express Mail

For more information, please visit the Postal Service’s holiday press room at

Source: United States Postal Service


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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".