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Although the U.S. Post Office made it through its busiest mailing day of the year on Monday, there are still key dates this week that it wants its customers to remember.

Suggested mail-by-dates for cards and packages destined for U.S. addresses are Thursday, Dec. 20, for First Class mail; Friday, Dec. 21, for Priority Mail; and Saturday, Dec. 22, for Express Mail.

Those looking to avoid the inevitable crowds, and save some time and money, are encouraged to ship from home, at, where they will find prices up to 16 percent lower than in post offices. Other savings by going that route include free delivery confirmation, a 75-cent value, and free package pickup, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Postal officials recommend using Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes. "Our eco-friendly boxes come in a variety of sizes and are always free," said USPS District Manager Ken McArthur.

In addition to nearly 200 Post Office locations in Utah, there also are more than 30 full-service Contract Post Offices in private businesses or community centers. To find the nearest postal location call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777), or go to —

Tips for holiday mailing and shipping

Confirm addresses • Print addresses clearly and be sure to include all address elements — apartment and suite numbers, and directional information for streets. Never guess on a ZIP Code; visit for all ZIP Codes.

Choose the right box • Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Leave space for cushioning inside. Do not reuse mailing boxes — they weaken in the shipping process. Customers can purchase ReadyPost boxes at a local post office or at the postal store at Express Mail and Priority Mail boxes, envelopes and tubes are free.

Pack Delicately • Cushion contents with shredded or rolled newspaper, bubble wrap or foam peanuts. Plain air-popped popcorn also is good for cushioning. Always use tape that is designed for shipping. Do not use wrapping paper, string, masking tape, duct tape or cellophane tape.

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