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Mail holiday packages with care

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POSTED: December 29, 2007 5:02 a.m.
December is the busiest time of year for mailing and the U.S. Postal Service is helping to make holiday shipping a little bit easier.
With 20 billion cards, letters and packages expected to be delivered this holiday season, the Postal Service has some tips to help send holiday cheer in a safe, secure manner.
The Postal Service offers free, environmentally friendly Priority Mail and Express Mail boxes and envelopes. These supplies can be ordered at usps.com or picked up at a local Post Office and can be shipped anywhere in the world. But the best consumer value may be Flat-Rate Boxes and envelopes. No calculating postage or weighing is needed. Customers pay a flat rate of $8.95 no matter the weight of the package or its destination. When a package is ready to be shipped, log on to usps.com/pickup to schedule a free package pickup from home or office.
The Postal Service also offers pre-packaged shipping products, READY POST, sold at local Post Offices for customers unable to find proper mailing boxes and envelopes.
It’s important to remember that packages weighing more than 13 ounces bearing postage stamps must be presented to a letter carrier or retail associate at the post Office and can’t be dropped in blue collection boxes.
“The Postal Service is making it easier this holiday season to ship to family and friends,” said Delores Killette, vice president and consumer advocate. “These mailing recommendations will help customers send their holiday cheer.”
When addressing envelopes and packages, use the following guidelines:
Print complete address clearly.
A complete address must include street number and name, secondary address (such as apartment or suite number), city, state and 5-digit ZIP Code. For example: 123 S. Main St. Apt 4 Washington, DC 20001.
Use the proper ZIP Code. ZIP Codes can be found at usps.com or by calling 1-800-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 can’t be delivered.
Packages can weigh up to 70 lbs. and measure up to 130 inches in combined length and width. Make sure the width is measured around the largest point of the package.
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.
Mark packages “Fragile” in large print on the outside of the box when shipping materials that might break.
When re-using a box, make sure previous labels and markings are covered before mailing.
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 or masking tape to seal packages.
 

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