If you want to send a package to a loved one in time for Christmas and haven’t mailed it yet, you had better get a move on.
Today is the deadline to send packages by Priority Mail internationally and to military members serving overseas in areas other than Iraq or Afghanistan.
The deadline is Monday for domestic packages being sent by parcel post — the most economical way.
“But, that’s putting them right on the edge there on parcel post,” Lawrence Postmaster Judy Raney said. “Truthfully, if they can get it in by this Saturday, they would be a whole lot safer.”
Raney said all delivery companies, including the U.S. Postal Service, become inundated this time of year, so people really need to allow an extra day or so for delivery.
The U.S. Postal Service estimates that 19 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered this season. It expects Monday to be the busiest day of the year, and Lawrence will be no exception.
If you want to avoid long lines, Raney recommends using the automated postage centers in the lobbies of the Lawrence post offices at 645 Vt. and 1901 W. 31st St. They are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Consumers also can purchase stamps with a credit or debit card.
Jeff Eaton, a member of the local band Split Lip Rayfield, was using the automated center on Wednesday afternoon to send packages of T-shirts and CDs to fans who has ordered them for the holidays.
“I love this thing. I don’t have to wait in line,” Eaton said. “A lot of times I come in the middle of the night and use it.”
If you don’t want to use the high-tech machine, Raney also reminds residents of the contract postal units at Orchards Drug store, 1410 Kasold Drive, and all Dillons and Hy-Vee food stores.
When it comes to sending packages, Raney has a few suggestions:
• Do not wrap the box in brown paper or gift wrapping paper. The paper tends to tear off when it goes through machines and in the handling process.
• Leave an address inside the box because sometimes the address on the outside becomes obliterated.
• Use a corrugated box. If using a box from a liquor or grocery store, cover the advertising on them with a black marker.
• Use tape and not strings.
• Take advantage of the post office’s free, environmentally friendly boxes for packages by Priority Mail and Express Mail.
• Calculate how much the items being sent are worth if you buy insurance. Consumers might also want to consider paying for the post office’s delivery confirmation service that allows consumers to track the delivery online.
As for Christmas cards, Raney said there’s a little more leeway on them. The deadline is Dec. 20 for first class and Priority Mail and Dec. 23 for Express Mail.
“I probably still will be doing my own a couple days before Christmas,” she said laughing. “I recognize that they might not all get there before Christmas, but better sending them than not.”