Get those gifts to post office: Holiday mailing deadline arrives, cards due soon

When workers open the Greenwood post office at 8 a.m., most days a line of customers are outside waiting.

More than 11,000 packages a day are shipped out of Franklin and Greenwood’s post offices, which is up more than 20 percent from last year’s holiday season, Greenwood branch postmaster Michelle Rockey said.

And this week is expected to be the busiest week for post offices, FedEx and UPS, with deadlines approaching for when residents must have their packages shipped to arrive in time for Christmas.

If you want to get presents to relatives in the mail without paying extra, today is the deadline to get that done.

And if you have holiday cards to mail, Saturday is your deadline, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Greenwood resident Josephine Cox typically has her holiday cards mailed within the first week of December. But this year she got behind, she said. On Friday, Cox took her 54 holiday cards to the Greenwood post office so she could double-check her friends’ addresses and put a stamp on each one before dropping them in the mail.

“I’ve been so busy cleaning leaves,” Cox said. “They’re late falling. That’s my problem. I’ve been outside.”

Residents with arms full of packages, dozens of Christmas greeting cards and hundreds of stamps have been flooding through the post office doors, postmasters said.

Although last week the foot traffic ebbed and flowed, postal service workers expect nonstop lines this week. Rockey said she tries to get people in and out of the post office within five minutes.

During its busiest week of the year last Christmas, Greenwood’s post office averaged about 7,800 packages per day; but it already is handling 9,000 packages per day as of last week, Rockey said. In Franklin, between 2,000 and 2,500 packages are brought into the post office each day on average, and employees are already seeing 20 to 30 percent more packages so far this year than their busiest day last year, which was Dec. 22, postmaster James Fisher said.

“I almost think our busiest day, we’re potentially going to see double that,” Fisher said.

More residents are shopping online. For example, postal workers have noticed more Amazon deliveries this year, Rockey and Fisher said.

“I think a lot of it is just the shift from brick and mortar to online businesses,” Fisher said.

To meet the local shipping demand, additional postal workers have been hired this season.

Greenwood’s post office hired at least eight more workers for this month, adding to the 100-person staff, Rockey said. More delivery trucks are sent out into Johnson County neighborhoods, and they start about two hours earlier than usual at 7:30 a.m., she said. Greenwood’s post office also has been open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through this Sunday.

When to get packages in the mail

If you want your presents delivered by Christmas morning, here’s a look at when they should be mailed:

Today: Standard mail should be sent by the end of the day to ensure it arrives by Christmas, along with mail to Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

Thursday: Express shipping deadline for packages to military bases

Saturday: All cards, letters and packages less than 13 ounces should be postmarked.

Monday: Priority mail deadline for packages that will take up to three days for delivery

Dec. 23: Priority mail express packages and cards can be guaranteed for overnight delivery if sent by this day.

Source: U.S. Postal Service

How to ship packages like a pro

Here are a few tips from the United States Postal Service on shipping packages:

  • Wrapped presents should be put inside a larger plain box or wrapped with plain paper to ship
  • Remove batteries from electronic toys or gifts
  • Write addresses in all caps
  • Double-check the ZIP code, and make sure apartment or suite numbers are written on address labels

By the numbers

Times to avoid going to the post office:

Greenwood Post Office

Around 3 p.m.: When the post office is typically the busiest, once school lets out and stays steady for the next few hours

Franklin Post Office

From 12 to 1:30 p.m., 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.: When the Franklin location picks up with customers

Source: Greenwood Postmaster Michelle Rockey, Franklin Postmaster James Fisher