Home for the holidays: tips to sending those packages and cards on time

So, you want to get that new toy to your nephew in Tucson in time for him to find it under the Christmas tree or get that fruitcake to Grandpa Fred in Boise who looks forward to it every year. What are you to do if you have a tendency to wait until the last-minute? Not worry, thats what. With 10 days left until Christmas, there is still a plethora of options available for sending your packages, letters and cards. Postmaster Ross G. French, with the Plattsburgh Post Office, said though approximately 60 percent of all Christmas cards are mailed the first two weeks of December, the local post office still sees its fair share of last-minute mail. Last Monday and this Monday will be the two busiest days the post office sees as customers line up to wrap up their holiday correspondence. As a tip, those visiting the Plattsburgh Post Office who are in need of stamps may use their automated postal center with their credit or debit card, said Postmaster French, in order to avoid the historically long lines seen this holiday season. "Getting customers to mail Christmas cards and packages early is a good idea, but we do have services that if they wait until the last-minute, will get their packages and letters home on time," said Postmaster French. "And our automated postal center is easy to use to save you time." According to information provided by the United States Postal Service, postal customers have until this Saturday, Dec. 15, to ship their packages standard parcel post in order to ensure delivery within the U.S. Those wishing for their letters and cards to reach their destination within the country have until Thursday, Dec. 20, via standard mail. Express Mail delivery, which guarantees next day service, is available up until the day before Christmas, though at a slightly higher cost. While those wishing to send packages and cards to their loved ones serving in the military overseas have missed the standard mail delivery deadlines, Express Mail delivery is still available until this Tuesday, Dec. 18. In order to reach other destinations outside the U.S., postal customers left with two options with the U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Global Express Guaranteed in order to be received by Christmas. Items being shipped to Asia and the Pacific Rim, Australia, New Zealand, the Carribean, Mexico, the Middle East and Europe have an Express Mail deadline of this Monday, Dec. 17, while Express Mail delivery to Canada is guaranteed until Dec. 18. Since the Dec. 12 deadline for Express Mail delivery to Africa as well as Central and South America has passed, the only other option through the Post Office is Global Express Guaranteed. That form of delivery has a Wednesday, Dec. 19 deadline for all destinations except Canada, which has an additional day for the truly last-minute senders. Shipping with other parcel delivery services has a slightly different schedule. With UPS, in order to ensure delivery in-country by Christmas Eve, customers have until Dec. 19 to ship their packages via UPS 3-Day Select service. Customers also have the option of UPS 2nd Day Air and UPS Next Day Air if they get their packages to UPS by Thursday, Dec. 20, and Friday, Dec. 21, respectively. Weena Boyle, owner of Mailboxes Etc., located on outer Cornelia Street in Plattsburgh, said her business offers UPS services, honoring the international shipping companys deadlines. "If youre shipping with Mailboxes Etc., you have until Dec. 21 at the very latest, so you dont have to worry," said Ms. Boyle. According to the UPS Web site, those wishing to send items overseas to military personnel or other destinations are encouraged to contact their nearest "The UPS Store," the closest of which are in Burlington, South Burlington, Essex and Williston in Vermont. Those shipping with DHL have until Dec. 21 to use the companys next day service and Dec. 19 to utilize 2nd day service. For special last-minute deliveries, DHL customers can utilize DHL's Same Day Service, which operates seven days a week, 365 days a year. The last day to ship in-country via FedEx Ground and Home Delivery services in order to be delivered by Christmas is Dec. 17. Fed Ex Express Saver parcels must be sent by Dec. 19, and FedEx 2Day and 2Day with Saturday delivery services have a Dec. 20 deadline. FedEx Overnight with Saturday delivery items must be sent by Dec. 21, while FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight and First Overnight items have until Dec. 22. True procrastinators or those with just plain bad luck even have delivery service available on Christmas with FedEx SameDay service. Other forms of delivery such as FedEx International Economy have deadlines as early as Dec. 17, depending on the destination. For more information, visit your local post office or parcel delivery service. Mailboxes Etc. is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Hours for post offices in Clinton County vary from location to location. Check with your local post office for hours of operation. Direct links to U.S. homepages for the U.S. Postal Service and other parcel delivery services are as follows U.S. Postal Service: www.usps.com ; UPS: www.ups.com/content/us/en/index.jsx ; DHL: www.dhl-usa.com ; and Fed Ex: www.fedex.com .

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