Deadlines, tips for holiday mailing
Sonoma Valley residents loaded down with holiday packages, Christmas cards and outgoing household mail can ease long lines at the post office – if they plan ahead.
“Everything should be packaged and ready to go when they come to the counter,” says El Verano Postmaster Kathy Gerletti.
She recommends checking shipping options before coming in with a stack of boxes. Information is available online at usps.com and by calling or stopping by local post offices. Packages for flat-rate shipping should weigh at least eight pounds, with more economical rates available for lighter packages, Gerletti says.
Deadlines for domestic destinations include: Dec. 14 for Parcel Post; Dec. 20 for first-class; Dec. 21 for Priority Mail; Dec. 22 for Express Mail.
Dec. 11 is the last day to send Express Mail International for Christmas arrival.
Dec. 10 is the deadline for the “Letters from Santa” program offering North Pole postmarks; see details at usps.com.
Gerletti advises customers to visit the post office before the deadlines, another way to keep lines down on peak days.
“It’s a good idea to be ahead of the game rather than behind it,” she says.
There are six post offices in the Valley of the Moon to assist the public: 617 Broadway, Sonoma; 20579 Eighth St. E., Vineburg; 18092 Hwy. 12, Boyes Hot Springs; 15000 Arnold Drive, Eldridge (at Sonoma Developmental Center); 13720 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen; and Gerletti’s El Verano Post Office at 19050 Bay St.
Gerletti says lines are typically longest at the end of the day. Patience is appreciated, she says, but it helps everyone if cards and packages are clearly addressed, boxes ready for shipping and void of masking tape or duct tape.
Procrastinators can still mail Christmas cards “four or five days” before the holiday for on-time arrival; those who wait longer may want to send cards for new year’s instead.
Gerletti suggests that postal customers multi-task when coming in with their holiday business: do some Christmas shopping at the post office.
“Stamps make great gifts and they’re practical,” she says, noting there are enough themes to appeal to everyone, from animal lovers and sports enthusiasts to world travelers and art aficionados.
Other USPS online gift ideas include collectible Christmas tree ornaments and children’s books. Merchandise varies at each post office.
— Dianne Reber Hart