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USPS® Holiday Guide for Delivering Cheer

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2016 USPS® Holiday Guide to Deliver Cheer


Americans take time during the holidays to share gratitude with loved ones and friends around the world. So much so that The Postal Service® is expecting to deliver more than 16 million total pieces of mail and packages during the 2016 holiday season.

Monday, December 19th is projected to be the busiest mailing day for greeting cards and packages with more than 611 million pieces of mail to be processed. This will also be the busiest day for

As for deliveries, The Postal Service anticipates that the busiest day will be on Thursday, December 22nd, with the delivery of more than 30 million packages.

To support our customers and spread cheer, The Postal Service is sharing some tips and information to help you this holiday season.

Avoid a Holiday Shipping Glitch

 Whether your package is destined for loved ones within the United States and territories, internationally, or to our military personnel, these tips can help ensure your delivery gets to its destination safe and sound.   

Print addresses clearly Be sure to include all address elements such as apartment numbers and directional information (345 S Main Street, Apt.22).

Remove batteries from toys Wrap new batteries and place them next to the toy.

Don’t reuse shipping boxes Used boxes will weaken in the shipping process. Instead, use a box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Priority Mail® and Priority Mail Express™ boxes are free online at  or at your local Post Office™.

Place a card inside with the delivery Make sure that it contains a return address in case the shipping label is damaged or lost.

Never guess a ZIP Code™ You can easily look up a ZIP Code™.

Always leave space for cushioning inside your box If you are stuffing glass, fragile or hollow items, it is best to use newspaper or packing material to avoid damage. If you are mailing photograph frames make sure you remove the glass and wrap it separately.

For more holiday shipping tips and guidance on how to prepare your packages, visit USPS TV for a variety of helpful videos.


Secure Mail and Holiday Packages

Another important step is ensuring your mail is secure prior to sending.

Avoid sending cash by mail — Opt for checks or money orders, as they are safer than cash and may be cancelled or reissued in the event of theft.

Don’t leave delivered mail and packages unattended — This includes leaving mail or packages in mailboxes or on front porches for any length of time.

Consider an alternate shipping address — You can arrange to have packages delivered to neighbors who are home during the day or get packages delivered at work, if permitted.

Change the package’s address—while it’s in transit! — If you know you won’t be home when the package is delivered, you can try USPS Package Intercept. Prior to delivery, most domestic package shipments can be redirected back to the sender, to a new address or to the Post Office to be held for pickup (a fee will apply when the package is intercepted).

Customize the delivery — If the package doesn’t fit in the mailbox and you won’t be home to receive it, you can provide delivery instructions online and authorize your carrier to leave it in a specified location. Simply visit, enter your tracking number and select Delivery Instructions. You can also request the package be left with a neighbor or held at a Post Office for pickup.

Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup When shipping packages, you can choose the “Hold for Pickup”  option for the recipient to collect the package at their local post office.

Going out of town? Hold mail at the local Post Office — Instead of risking leaving a package unattended for an extended period of time, take advantage of the Request Hold Mail service. Letters and packages will be held securely at your local Post Office until you return.

Secure the shipment using insurance and extra services —   help ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery.

Choose the most secure form of delivery For the most valuable packages, you can opt for Registered Mail Registered Mail receives special-handling from the time it’s mailed until it’s delivered, documenting the chain of custody.

 A PO Box™ might be the answer — If you’re concerned about the security of your mail, you can consider renting a Post Office Box™ at your local Post Office. The mail remains secure within the Post Office, accessible only when using the right key or combination. Many Post Office lobbies are open 24/7, allowing you to retrieve mail on your schedule.

If you need help tracking your shipment, redirecting a package, or updating shipping instructions, please visit Track & Manage.


Ways to Make Holiday Mail Extra Special

Operation Santa

This year marks the 104th year of the  . For over a century, postal employees, charities, individual and corporate volunteers have helped children in need experience the magic of the holidays by adopting their letters sent to Santa.

The program will kick off on December 6 at an event in NYC at the Farley Building in Manhattan. Get information on participating Operation Santa locations here.

National Cancellation

From Saturday, November 26 to Friday, January 6, Postal Service™ stamp-cancelling equipment nationwide will postmark stamps with this image:


North Pole Postmark

If you want to show some extra holiday spirit this year, you can get the North Pole postmark on your holiday cards by following these steps:

Personalize greeting cards as usual.

Address the envelopes.

Put holiday stamps on the envelopes.

Place all of the envelopes in a larger envelope – or preferably a Priority Mail Box.

Put postage on the larger envelope or box.

You can mail the larger envelope or box by First Class Mail or Priority Mail until December 10. After that date use Priority Mail Express. Send to:





ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998


You can also dress up your holiday cards and letters with beautiful stamps from The Postal Store® and while there pick up some delightful philatelic gifts.

Additional Holiday Mail Considerations

Employee Gifts

All postal employees, including mail carriers, must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount.

Carriers and Dogs

The Postal Service asks customers to place their dogs in a separate room before opening the front door to accept packages from carriers. Dogs are protective in nature and have been known to jump through screen doors and squeeze through door openings. More than 6,500 carriers were attacked by dogs last year. We want everyone go home safely each day.

For even more holiday news and updates, visit the USPS Holiday Newsroom.


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