Apparently we Americans are quite predictable when it comes to our Christmas mailing habits.
And if you tend to follow the same well-trodden path as most of your neighbors, you'll probably be standing in line beside them to buy stamps or mail your Christmas cards and packages at the post office today or next Monday.
Today is expected to be the first of the two busiest days at the Brainerd Post Office this holiday season. According to Brainerd Postmaster Don Rasmussen, daily foot traffic increases by 50 percent before Christmas at the Brainerd Post Office.
"There will be a line all day for the most part on Monday," said Rasmussen.
About 20 billion cards, letters and packages will be mailed nationwide between Nov. 24 and Dec. 31, a 3 percent increase from last year, according to U.S. Postal Service in Minneapolis. This translates to about 150 million cards and letters mailed a day, compared to 100 million on an average day. Since Christmas falls on a Monday this year, the busiest mail processing day will be the week before on Monday, Dec. 18. The last day to receive Christmas gifts and letters through the mail is Saturday, Dec. 23, so procrastinators have a shorter mailing week before Christmas this year.
Rasmussen suggests stopping in to buy stamps or having letters and packages weighed on a Tuesday or Wednesday, when lines will be a little shorter.
While most people don't tend to ask whether friends or acquaintances received their annual Christmas newsletter or card, there are many times when Christmas cards don't make it to their anticipated destinations because of incorrect postage, outdated addresses or other mistakes.
When return addresses aren't printed on the cards, they end up in the mail recovery center in Chicago, which is most commonly referred to as the "dead letter office," said Rasmussen. The cards or packages are then opened and an attempt is made to find the rightful owner of the mail.
It's much easier for postal workers if you just take a few minutes and print your return address on the card.
If you're mailing a package, said Rasmussen, make sure to include an index card inside the package with your name and address and the name and address of the person to whom you are sending the package written on it. Sometimes the address on the package, often written in marker, can be smeared and become unreadable.
The Brainerd Post Office receives about 50 letters addressed to Santa Claus each holiday season. These letters are saved and sent to the Lakes Area Senior Center, where Santa has appointed his senior elves to answer each and every one of them.
Rasmussen is anticipating that the Brainerd Post Office will have another Christmas-like postal rush after Jan. 7 with the penny increase in the cost of postage stamps. Most postal customers then rush in to buy the 1-cent stamps. He suggests that when you're in the post office in the next week or two anyway to mail your Christmas cards and packages, buy your 1-cent stamps at that time to save yourself a trip to the post office in January.
The Brainerd Post Office will expand lobby counter service hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Employees also will thank Brainerd postal customers with Customer Appreciation Days on Dec. 18-22. Postal patrons can stop by for free coffee and cookies while they do their Christmas mailings.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.