The U.S. Postal Services expects to see an increase in holiday packages this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and advises sending Christmas gifts and cards early to ensure they arrive on time.
USPS always encourages sending gift packages early, but this year, more holiday gifts and greetings are expected to be sent through the mail as families and friends hold virtual celebrations instead of opening gifts in person, according to a news release. The influx could slow down delivery times.
Gift and greeting card shipping is expected to increase beginning Dec. 7, with the week of Dec. 14-21 predicted to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week.
Planning for the peak holiday season begins in January. Flexibility is built into the network to meet the annual mail surge. USPS has 644,000 employees dedicated to ensuring gifts and holiday greeting are delivered on time. Package tracking technology has been expanded. Sunday delivery will be expanded to areas with high package volumes beginning Nov. 29; USPS already delivers packages on Sundays in most major cities. Christmas day delivery will also be available for an additional fee in some locations.
USPS recommends the following mailing and shipping deadlines for expected delivery by Dec. 25 to Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office and domestic addresses:
- Dec. 9 — APO/FPO/DPO (zip code 093 only) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
- Dec. 11 — APO/FPO/DPO (all other zip codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail services
- Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground service
- Dec. 18 — APO/FPO/DPO (except zip code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express service
- Dec. 18 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)
- Dec. 18 — First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
- Dec. 19 — Priority Mail service
- Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express service
- Dec. 18 — Alaska to/from Continental U.S. First-Class Mail
- Dec. 19 — Alaska to/from Continental U.S. Priority Mail
- Dec. 21 — Alaska to/from Continental U.S. Priority Mail Express
- Dec. 15 — Hawaii to/from mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
- Dec. 21 — Hawaii to/from mainland Priority Mail Express
- Use free Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes available at Post Offices or online at usps.com/freeboxes.
- Use Click-N-Ship to create shipping labels and pay for postage online at usps.com/ship.
- Schedule a free Package Pickup when the carrier delivers your mail. It’s free regardless of the number of packages. Pickups can be scheduled at usps.com/pickup.
- Mail and packages that weigh more than 10 ounces or are more than a half-inch thick and using stamps as postage cannot be dropped into a collection box or left for a carrier to pick up. Instead, take them to a local Post Office.