Special delivery: Holiday shipping deadline nears

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

COVINGTON -- This holiday season, postal workers will once again brave frigid temperatures, rain, sleet and snow to get holiday cards and packages to their destinations on time.

The U.S. Postal Service estimates it will process nearly 16 billion letters, cards and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Covington Post Master Shane Williams has a message for those who haven't yet sent holiday mail, especially packages: "The sooner the better."

"With the increase in volume we have in the system right now, our two- to three-day service is just a target. It may be delayed some," he said.

To avoid glitches, be sure to print addresses clearly in all caps and include all address elements, such as apartment or suite numbers and directional information for streets, such as N for North, the Postal Service advises. Always include a return address. Never guess a ZIP code; according to the Postal Service, no ZIP code is better than a wrong ZIP code.

Those mailing packages should cushion contents with shredded or rolled newspaper, bubble wrap or foam peanuts. Plain air-popped popcorn is also a good, environmentally friendly option. Pack contents tightly to avoid shifting during transit. Remove batteries from toys, wrap them separately and place them next to toys in the mailing box. Stuff glass and fragile hollow items with newspaper or packaging material.

The Postal Service advises using tape designed for shipping such as pressure-sensitive tape, nylon-reinforced craft paper tape or glass-reinforced pressure-sensitive tape. Do not use wrapping paper, string, masking tape or cellophane tape.

An extra label or notice with the delivery and return addresses should be placed inside the package to ensure safe return of the item that could not be delivered because the outside label became damaged or lost.

Williams urges those planning to send electronic greetings this year to reconsider. While it may be more convenient to do some things online, such as pay bills, it's more heart warming to send a holiday card through the mail, he said.

"People still like to go to the mailbox and get something from a friend rather than hearing 'Beep, you've got mail,'" he said.