The early bird ... gets the package delivered on time

By Todd DeFeo

When it comes time to ship holiday packages, there's one old adage that perhaps best applies: "The sooner, the better."

With the holidays rapidly approaching, longer lines are practically guaranteed as the season progresses. But, that doesn't mean shipping packages has to be difficult, experts say.

Ship early.

"It's less expensive and more likely to arrive on time," Jon Holland, owner of three UPS stores in Henry County, said of shipping packages earlier. "Plus, the lines aren't as long."

Holland is no stranger to people holding out shipping their holiday packages.

"I think we do that more and more," he added. "The more options we have, the longer we wait" before shipping items.

To help people shipping items, the United States Postal Service (USPS) this week began delivering The Shipping & Mailing Holiday Guide to 141 million addresses nationwide.

"The Postal Service believes in the power of the mail and we know that customers want more choice and convenience to manage their busy lives," U.S. Postal Service Vice President and Consumer Advocate Francia Smith said in a news release about the guide. "So we have placed a wealth of time-saving ideas and services into the largest customer mailing we have ever done, so that our customers can enjoy the most productive and trouble-free holiday season ever."

The Holiday Guide provides information on new services and other tidbits customers need to know about mailing, for the holidays and beyond. Instructions, including illustrations and tips about choosing extra services such as insurance or delivery confirmation, are included in the free Holiday Guide.

The guide also includes the last mailing dates for items to arrive before Christmas.

Meanwhile, UPS said it is gearing up to deliver more than 340 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Dec. 21, a day known as "Peak Day," the company will deliver about 20 million packages via air and ground. The volume is expected to drop to about 5 million packages the following day, the company said.

When it comes time to pack, there's another piece of advice people should keep in mind.

"We want them to pack defensively," said Sheldon Griffith, center manager for the FedEx Kinko's in Morrow.

Anyone not wanting to personally pack their items can pay a professional who will complete that task.

"We have an array of supplies here that we offer for the customer to use," Griffith said. Some supplies are available for free, while there is a charge for some items.

"If they need any advice, don't hesitate to call," Griffith said.