Mail Christmas packages early

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Staff Writer

Dec. 14, 1999 11 PM

Proper packing and planning ahead will help your Christmas gifts and cards get to their destinations by Dec. 25.

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Troy Postmaster Cody Ward said these items should be mailed by Friday to ensure they arrive in time for Christmas.

He offered a few suggestions to make sure packages arrive in good condition.

Gifts should be put in a double corrugated shipping type box, Ward said. Shoe boxes, hat boxes and other thin cardboard containers are not made for mailing.

"Be sure you have at least one inch of cushioning between the box and the article you are sending on all sides, especially if it is fragile," he said. "Styrofoam peanuts or old newspapers work well for this.

"It is always a good idea to write the addresses of who you are sending it to and a return address on a piece of paper and put it inside of the box. This will help your package not be lost if the ink runs on the outside or if it is damaged."

Ward gave specific guidelines for postal customers sending gifts within the United States and abroad.

"It is too late to send something overseas to have it there by Christmas, unless you send it international express mail," he said. "International air can get to some countries by Dec. 25."

If you need to send a package to Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, send it now by priority mail.

Within the continental United States, a package shipped by ground parcel post, or regular mail should get there in time for the holiday, Ward said.

After Friday, all packages should be sent priority or express mail if they need to arrive by Christmas.

For extra peace of mind, Ward recommends customers insure their packages. Buying insurance allows you to be reimbursed if a package is lost or damaged.

"For the procrastinators, we do deliver express mail Christmas day," Ward said.

If you want your holiday cards to arrive at their destinations by Dec. 25, send them no later than Monday, Ward said.

Use light-colored envelops and type addresses or use computer printed labels. This makes it easy for the "optical character reader machine that reads addresses and applies bar codes corresponding to address" to sort the cards, Ward said. The machine is also able to read well-written print.

Envelops not addressed in this way require hand sorting, which increases delivery time.

The U.S. Post Office is prepared to handle the additional load of Christmas packages and cards, Ward said. Although large post offices hire temporary workers during December, the Troy location is not expanding its staff.

"We will work as long as it takes to get the job done," Ward said.