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Save Money, Aggravation By Sending Christmas Cards, Gifts Early

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RALEIGH — TheU.S. Postal Servicewill deliver more than 16 billion cards and packages during this holiday season. You can save money and a lot of aggravation by getting your cards and packages in the mail now.

"We'd like to have packages in a sturdy box. Thick cardboard. No Scotch tape, no masking tape," said James Stephenson of the U.S. Postal Service.

Some boxes and envelopes are free at the post office if you send your package through priority mail. You can also buy larger boxes and packaging materials.

"Make it as solid as possible because anything that moves around has a chance to burst," said Stephenson.

Experts say it is worth spending a few extra dollars to insure your packages. And a warning for procrastinators: 2-3 day mail could take 5 days during the holidays.

Or you can let a professional like Andrew Kirby atMail Boxes, Etc.worry about packaging and shipping your presents.

"A lot of them are ask 'how do I send this?' or they just bring it in and ask 'how do it get this there? Just do it for me.' And we know what to do. We'll have it done in 5 or 10 minutes," said Kirby.

This shipping store recommends you send packages to the West coast by Dec. 16, and packages to East coast cities by the Dec. 22. But you're better off sending your gifts before those dates.

"A lot of it is people coming in at the last minute, stressing out and then paying a lot of money to get something to some place. They could have saved quite a bit if they did it just 2-3 days earlier," said Victoria Hartman of Mail Boxes, Etc.

The post office expects the holiday rush to begin Monday. That's when everyone wants to mail the presents they bought this weekend. But the busiest days will be the Friday, Saturday and Monday before Christmas.

More tips to avoid a mail hassle this holiday.
  • Write, type or print the complete delivery address neatly.
  • Use smudge-proof ink.
  • Always use a return address.
  • Mark the front and all sides with the level of service required such as first class or priority mail.
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    Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
    Chad Flowers, Photographer
    John Clark, Web Editor

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