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Addressing the holiday mail rush
MONROE - With 16.6 billion cards, letters and packages to be delivered between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, the U.S Postal Service has some shipping tips to help get gifts delivered promptly and safely during the holiday season.

"The Postal Service is making it easier to ship packages to family and friends this season," says Eugene Naumann postmaster of the Monroe Post Office. "Proper addressing and packaging will ensure every gift receives the service it deserves."

The Postal Service offers free, environmentally friendly Flat Rate Priority mail boxes, as well as regular Priority Mail and Express Mail boxes and envelopes. These supplies can be ordered at or picked up at the local post office.

"Our Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes are the best combination of value and convenience in the shipping business," Naumann says. "One low rate to any state, with no calculating of postage or weighing necessary. If it fits, it ships."

The Postal Service also offers pre-packaged shipping products, READY POST, sold at local post offices for customers needing sturdy, secure boxes, envelopes and even greeting cards.

"When you mail online with Click-N-Ship, you qualify for a discount on Priority Mail and Express Mail," Naumann adds. "The more you ship, the more you save. And when a package is ready to be shipped, log on to to schedule free package pickup right from your home or office. Skip the trip and do all of your shipping online."

Helpful packaging tips:

• Make sure packages are able to withstand processing without the contents or packaging breaking.

• Cushion items with bubble wrap, newspaper, or "foam peanuts" so they do not shift during transit.

• Wrap each item separately when packing more than one item in the same box.

• Remove batteries from electronic devices and wrap separately.

• Close and shake the box to see if there is enough cushioning. If items are shifting, add more cushioning.

• When re-using a box, make sure previous labels and markings are covered before mailing.

• Mark "Fragile" on packages in large print on the outside of the box when shipping materials that might be more likely to break.

• Mark "Perishable" on packages that contain food or other items that can spoil.

• Place an extra address label with the delivery and return address inside the package. This ensures the safe return of an item that could not be delivered should the outside label become damaged or fall off.

• Always use tape designed for sealing shipping boxes. Do not use string, cellophane and masking tape to seal packages.

• Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and measure up to 130 inches in combined length and width. Make sure the width is measured around the largest point of the package.

Guidelines for addressing envelopes and packages:

• Print complete address clearly

• A complete address includes: the recipients name, Post Office box or street number, street name and suffix (Ave., St., Blvd., etc.), directional (North, South, East, West), secondary address (apartment or suite number), city, state and 5-digit Zip Code.

• Use the proper Zip Code. Zip Codes can be found at or by calling (800) ASK-USPS.

• Print the delivery and return addresses on the same side of the envelope or package.

• Always use a return address. It tells the Postal Service where to return mail if it cannot be delivered.

The Postal Service recommends the following mail-by dates to ensure your gift arrives on time:

• Dec. 4 - Military mail destined for Iraq or Afghanistan

• Dec. 11 - Military mail for other overseas bases

• Dec. 16 - Parcel Post, the mot economical shipping service

• Dec. 21 - First Class Mail

• Dec. 21 - Priority Mail

• Dec. 23 - Express Mail

Due to security requirements, packages bearing postage stamps and that weight more than 13 ounces must be presented to a letter carrier or retail associate at the Post Office and cannot be dropped in blue collection boxes.

Find more holiday tips and information at