Dec. 14 for Parcel Post;
Dec. 20 for First-Class Mail;
Dec. 21 for Priority Mail and
Dec. 22 for Express Mail.
For international destinations, mail-by-dates range from Dec. 3 to Dec. 13 depending on the destination with Global Express Guaranteed Service available through Dec. 19 for most countries, or Dec. 20 if mailing to Canada or Mexico.
Holiday cards and packages destined for military addresses in Afghanistan should be in the mail no later than Dec. 3. The mail-by date for all other military addresses is Dec. 10.
To help the families and friends of U.S. military personnel, the Postal Service is offering a $2 discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes.
USPS District Manager Ken McArthur says the best advice he can give busy customers this time of year is to ship from home for the holidays.
"Customers can save up to 11 percent off Post Office retail prices by mailing online at usps.com, and they can also request a free package pickup," McArthur said in a statement announcing the Post Office's suggested "mail-by" dates. "Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes make shipping easy 'if it fits it ships for one low price,' and the boxes are free. It not only saves you money, but time and gas as well."
The Postal Service said Dec. 17 is expected to be the busiest mailing day of the year and Dec. 19 and 20 the busiest delivery days. It expects to handle 365 million packages this holiday season, a 20 percent increase over last year.
Overall, the Postal Service projects it will handle nearly 18 billion cards, packages and letters between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.