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POSTED: December 14, 2009 9:39 a.m.
Holiday procrastinators have a little more time to wrap get gifts under faraway trees by Christmas Day, but not too much more.
Ray Cook with the Fort Stewart Post Office said gifts sent no later than the 18th should still make their destinations by Dec. 25, though the date is “just an estimate."
Cook said packages sent overseas this week might also make it to deployed friends and family if they’re sent by priority mail.
“It still takes approximately seven to 10 days,” he said.
Terra Reilly, manager of The UPS Store in Hinesville, said business has pick up steadily as the big day approaches, and recommends packages going by ground transportation be sent no later than Monday for arrival on the West Coast.
“The further it has to go, the longer it will take,” Reilly said. “Get it here as early as possible, to avoid it costing an arm and a leg.”
Reilly said she’s been surprised by the number of packages compared to envelopes  shipped this season, too.
“We’ve had a lot more, especially big packages, than I was expecting,” she said.
Reilly recommends customers know exactly what they plan to ship when they walk in, to make the process go smoothly. “Be more specific than just ‘Christmas presents’,” she said.
Reilly’s store will be keeping regular hours up to Christmas, with the exception of this Saturday, when she’ll be open two extra hours in the afternoon.
Also consider wait time when sihipping. Cook said making trips to the post office during off-peak hours can help cut down on the wait time.
“Right now the wait is about 30 minutes,” he said.
Showing up in the early afternoon, between 2 and 3:30 p.m., means customers will wait in slightly shorter lines than if they were to go first thing in the morning, at lunch and right before closing.
Another tip for postal customers looking to speed things along is to have packages completely wrapped, sealed and labeled before reaching the counter. Cook said envelopes and priority mail labels are best addressed in pen ink, while large packages being sent by first-class mail or parcel post should be addressed in marker ink.
Cook asked that postal customers have patience, especially since staffing at post offices has been cut back steadily in recent years.
“We can only take care of one customer at a time, so please be patient,” he said.
 

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