ROANOKE, Va. – To help you get your holiday gift to your loved one on time this year, the United States Postal Service has some tips for you to keep in mind.

The USPS says the first rule of thumb this holiday season is to send your packages early.

The busiest time of year for the postal service is from Dec 14-20.

The season peaks two weeks before Christmas, when much of the last-minute shopping starts and customer traffic is expected to build starting Dec. 7.

USPS recommends the following mailing and shipping deadlines for expected delivery by Dec. 25 to air/army post office/fleet post office/diplomatic post office and domestic addresses:

  • Dec. 9 — APO/FPO/DPO (ZIP Code 093 only) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 11 — APO/FPO/DPO (all other ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail services
  • Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground service
  • Dec. 18 — APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express service
  • Dec. 18 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)
  • Dec. 18 — First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
  • Dec. 19 — Priority Mail service
  • Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express* service

The USPS says to make sure to get a new, sturdy box and use bubble wrap or newspaper to cushion the gift inside.

“If that box has information on the exterior that might of had chemicals in it, cross all that off. We don’t want anything to hold up that box in transit,” USPS Appalachian District spokesperson Tad Kelley said.

While it’s important to secure a postage label on the outside of the package, place an address card inside just in case the outside label gets damaged.

Be careful sending batteries. Lithium batteries are hazardous and are restricted by type, quantity and battery strength. But overall, batteries need to be secured in the original manufacturer’s packaging. If a worker hears ticking, vibrations or other noises during transportation, the package may be delayed out of security concerns.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USPS urges customers to take advantage of the online services this year.

“Use your bathroom scale to weigh it. Print the postage out. And then you can go on to the website and ask for carrier pickup,” Kelley said.

Kelley recommends customers to sign up for Informed Delivery to monitor packages arriving and to receive emails regarding what mail will be delivered.

And don’t be surprised if you only here a knock on the door when a package arrives. Kelley says workers are trying to avoid high-touch areas like the doorbell during the pandemic.

Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.

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