Ready, Set, Mail- Post Office Issues Guidelines
The U.S. Post Office is gearing up for its busiest day of the year as Pittsburghers get ready to mail Christmas cards, gifts, pictures, and even fruit cakes.
USPS spokesman Tad Kelley said they’ve seen a 13% increase in shipping this year along with their usual holiday season uptick. He links that increase to the Priority Mail Flat Rate option where customers can send whatever they can fit into a Post Office provided box. The package finds its destination in 2-3 days.
But the real rush is coming Monday.
“In a normal day here on the north side of Pittsburgh, this processing plant, we’ll do 800,000 to one million cancellation of first class mail,” said Kelley. “We’re going to look at about 2.1 million this Monday, so it’s going to be busy as, obviously, shoppers are going to be out and busy this weekend, they’re going to be buying their cards, their gifts.”
Kelley said people looking to get their mail to friends and loved ones on time should remember some important dates.
- All items being shipped through Parcel Post (ground shipping) should be in by December 14th.
- All items going by Priority Mail should be shipped by December 21st.
- First-class cards and letters should go by December 20th.
- Overnight and guaranteed Express Mail items should be shipped by December 22nd.
Kelley said these aren’t official dates but guidelines that will best ensure mail gets to its intended place on time.
He said it helps to mail your holiday cards earlier in the day so Post Office workers can organize and move them out of the building that day.
“In the past people would wrap them with rubber bands and things like that. Not a good idea,” said Kelley. “We want them loose. Bring them together, make sure they’re stamped, make sure you have the correct address on them.”
Kelley said there are some important shipping tips people should remember.
- If sending toys, pack the batteries separately because they can leak
- If sending a framed picture, package the glass from the frame separately so it doesn’t break
- Don’t wrap boxes in gift wrap
- Don’t use a box that once held chemicals. It could be flagged and held for inspection
- Leave a copy of the shipping and return address inside the box, in case something happens to the outer label during shipping
- If the package contains something flammable, toxic, alcoholic, or a firearm, don't try to mail it
Kelley said post offices will be open this year on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but people should check the local hours of their post office.
And if you don’t have time to get to a local Post Office, Kelly encourages customers to check out the USPS website where they can order Priority boxes, print postage, and look up zip-codes.