Holiday mail deadlines for the package to be received by Christmas:
Saturday Last day to send cards and letters
Monday Last day to use priority mail
- Packages to the coasts should be mailed sooner and may require express or air shipping.
- The U.S. Postal Service recommends customers have packages fully taped and sealed before arriving at the post office, with mailing label affixed.
For packages, use a strong, sturdy box with no writing on the outside. Package contents tightly and securely using newspaper or other cushioning.
Kathy Stokes has a simple warning: procrastinators beware.
Deadlines for shipping packages in time for Christmas are approaching quickly and the longer you wait, the more it will cost. Stokes owns the PostNet shipping business with her husband, Terry. She said their office was inundated Monday - the busiest shipping day of the year.
Their Steamboat Springs business shipped 250 packages Monday through FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service, up from an average of about 30 packages a day.
"We've got this whole Christmas thing down to a science," she said.
Stokes said the last safe day to use ground shipping to the coasts was Tuesday, but packages can be mailed express through Dec. 22.
Listed by the U.S. Postal Service as the busiest day of the year, Monday was not as hectic as it could have been, according to Tim O'Brien, officer in charge of the Steamboat Springs post office on Lincoln Avenue.
"It wasn't as busy as it has been in the past. I think our busiest day is yet to come : later on in the week," he said.
The office does not count outgoing packages, but the office received more than 2,000 packages Monday, O'Brien said. A typical day has about 500 packages received.
The Denver Bulk Mail Center - the largest package-sorting facility in Colorado and the routing center for all mail to Steamboat - handled about 300,000 holiday packages Monday, up from the typical 180,000 packages, according to a Postal Service news release.
O'Brien said staff has been working overtime to deal with the influx, and the line of customers rarely reached out of the main lobby at the office Monday.
Along with fewer packages sent this year, O'Brien said the packages mailed also are smaller than average.
"What I notice is a lot more smaller packages," he said. "There are not nearly as many of the big ones" like computers and other big-ticket items.
Ted Carey, owner of The UPS Store, said his office sent about 300 packages Monday, a decrease from previous years but much higher than the 75 to 80 packages sent on a typical day.
The last day to send out Christmas packages by UPS ground to the coasts is today, Carey said. Packages can be shipped later than that through air services for an additional charge.
O'Brien said he expects the packages to continue through this week with long lines as latecomers mail gifts.
"We're still nine days out so a lot of mail is still coming in," he said.
The Stokeses also are encouraging environmentally conscious shipping and packaging. They suggest that residents use the smallest box needed to fit the contents and use recycled or biodegradable packing peanuts. Shipping packages by today also means they can be sent via ground shipping, which is more fuel efficient than air shipping.