US & World

Deadlines loom for Post Office Christmas delivery

U.S. Postal Service customers wait in line to mail Christmas presents at a U.S. Post Office in this December 20, 2004 file photo taken in Washington, DC. The USPS says 10 percent more mail is anticipated between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year compared to 2014.
U.S. Postal Service customers wait in line to mail Christmas presents at a U.S. Post Office in this December 20, 2004 file photo taken in Washington, DC. The USPS says 10 percent more mail is anticipated between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year compared to 2014.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. Postal Service expects to handle 15.5 billion cards, letters and packages this holiday season, and that means anyone planning to send presents via mail to friends and loved ones should pay special attention to the recommended shipping deadlines.

The amount of mail anticipated between Thanksgiving and Christmas represents a 10 percent increase over last year, according to Richard Maher, USPS spokesperson for Los Angeles. The volume of mail includes some 600 million packages alone.

"The postal service is geared up," Maher said. "We've hired additional workers, and we'll be doing whatever it takes to get those packages delivered, including delivering seven days a week, so don't be surprised if you see your letter carrier out there on Sunday."

One deadline has already passed — for international mail or packages to arrive by Christmas via priority mail express, packages had to be sent by Dec. 8.

But for everything else, there's still time. Here are the key deadlines if you want your package to arrive by Christmas:

Date Domestic International
Dec. 8   Priority Mail Express
Dec. 15 Standard Post (ground)  
Dec. 19 First Class Global Express Guaranteed
Dec. 21 Priority Mail  
Dec. 23 Priority Mail Express  

The last option, Priority Mail Express, is a year-round service, so "procrastinators still have that option," Maher said.

Maher advised customers to let the clerk know if there's anything hazardous, fragile or liquid inside a package before sending. No sending alcohol, either.

He said that for any electronics, people should remove the batteries and wrap them separately.

"When you mail, if you have any questions, you can ask your sales associate in our lobbies. They're versed on the best way to package and get your shipments there safely," Maher said.

For more information on deadlines, how to pack, proper addressing and other shipping tips, you can visit the postal service website at usps.com/holiday.