Cover Story: Holiday Season 2015

This year, the Postal Service™ is reminding employees and customers that the holidays are our time to deliver. We have prepared all year for this season, and are ready to deliver across the country.

Key Dates

n A Charlie Brown Christmas stamps FDOI, October 1, 2015.

n Geometric Snowflakes stamps FDOI, October 23, 2015.

n First Holiday Ad Premiers, November 2, 2015.

n Second, third, and fourth Ad Premiers, November 9, 2015.

n National Cancellations begin November 28, 2015.

2015 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

To ensure that holiday mail and packages are delivered in time for Christmas, the Postal Service recommends customers observe the following mailing and shipping deadlines:

December 1— First-Class Mail International®

December 1 — Priority Mail International®

December 8 — Priority Mail Express International®

December 15 — Standard Post™

December 19 — Global Express Guaranteed®

December 19 — First-Class Mail®

December 21 — Priority Mail®

December 23 — Priority Mail Express®*

The dates listed above are the earliest deadlines for international and military mail.

*Priority Mail Express postage refund eligibility is adjusted for shipments mailed December 22–25.

Military Holiday Shipping

To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by December 25, 2015, send cards and packages to military APO/FPO/DPO addresses overseas no later than the mailing dates listed below:


Military Mail Addressed To

Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS)1

First-Class Mail — Letters and Cards



Parcel Air Lift (PAL)2

Space Available Mail (SAM)3

Standard Post

APO/FPO AE ZIPs 090–092

Dec. 17

Dec. 10

Dec. 10

Dec. 3

Nov. 25

Nov. 7



Dec. 3

Dec. 3

Dec. 3

Nov. 25

Nov. 7

APO/FPO AE ZIPs 094–098

Dec. 17

Dec. 10

Dec. 10

Dec. 3

Nov. 25

Nov. 7


Dec. 17

Dec. 10

Dec. 10

Dec. 3

Nov. 25

Nov. 7

APO/FPO AP ZIPs 962–966

Dec. 17

Dec. 10

Dec. 10

Dec. 3

Nov. 25

Nov. 7

1 PMEMS is available to selected military addresses. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.

2 PAL is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Standard Post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface price for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.

3 SAM parcels are paid at Standard Post prices with maximum weight and size limits of 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined. SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis.

To send packages to loved ones serving in the military abroad, the Postal Service offers a discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box at $13.80 (online) and $15.90 (retail). The price includes a $2 per box discount for mail sent to APO/FPO/DPO (Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office) destinations worldwide.

With Priority Mail supplies as the packaging of choice for families preparing care packages for service members overseas, the Postal Service created a free “Military Care Kit” based on the items most frequently requested by military families. To order the kit, call 800-610-8734. Guidelines for packing, addressing, and shipping items to U.S. troops can be found at .

The kit contains:

n Two Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate Boxes.

n Two Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Boxes.

n Priority Mail tape.

n Priority Mail address labels.

n Appropriate customs forms.

Addressing an APO/FPO/DPO Package:

1. Write out the service member’s full name in the address.

2. Include the unit and APO/FPO/DPO address with the 9-digit ZIP™ Code (if one is assigned).

For example:

Cpt. John Doe
Unit 2050 Box 4190
APO AP 96278-2050

3. Include a return address.

4. Include the service member’s name and address as well as the sender’s name and address on an index card inside the package, in case the label is damaged.

Key Facts and Messages

Busiest mailing and delivery dates:

n Busiest MAILING day for holiday letters/cards and packages: Monday, December 14.

n Busiest DELIVERY day for holiday letters/cards and packages: Monday, December 21.

Other volume data:

n The Postal Service is projecting that more than 15.5 billion cards and letters will be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, and more than 13 billion between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

n More than 612 million pieces of mail will be processed on December 21, 2015, the busiest mailing day of the year.

n On an AVERAGE day, the Postal Service processes 506 million pieces of mail. During the HOLIDAY season, that volume increases to 536 million pieces of mail each day.

Products and Services

Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express are great options for shipping holiday gifts:

n Boxes available at no extra charge.

n Day-specific delivery.

n Enhanced tracking.

n Insurance included.

Save time and money this holiday with valuable services on

n Save money and get free delivery confirmation when you create mailing labels and pay for postage online.

n Schedule a Package Pickup online for free, no matter how many packages are being sent.

n Order supplies, including Priority Mail packaging, and have them delivered for free.

Customer Tips

Feel free to share the following holiday shipping tips and tricks with customers:

n Enjoy convenience: Order free Priority Mail shipping supplies on and have them delivered to your door, free of charge.

n Be informed: Check to verify that your items can be shipped.

n Pack smart: Pick a strong and sturdy box, cushion contents with packing peanuts, newspaper, or bubble wrap, and tape it closed with strong packing tape. Remove batteries from toys, and always place a card inside the package that contains the delivery and return addresses. Finally, never guess a ZIP Code and always include complete “to” and “from” information on the packages.

n Save a trip: Visit to pay for postage and request free Package Pickup at your door.

n Track It: Sign up for text and email alerts through to track the delivery status of your packages.

n Gift options: Pick up a gift card from your local Post Office™; they make great gifts for family and friends.

n Be social: Follow the Postal Service on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the Postal Posts Blog for holiday tips all season long.

Retail Gifts

Whether customers forget to add someone to their holiday lists or need to find a gift for that special someone, the Postal Service has them covered. In select Post Offices this holiday season, customers can buy greeting cards, gift cards, and postage, and mail their gifts all in one place — the local Post Office. Check out online and retail options to make gift giving easy this season:

Words of Love

n Approximately 9,800 select Post Offices nationwide will feature holiday greeting card selections this holiday.

Gifts Galore

n Assorted Gift Cards are available in 5,000 Post Offices nationwide. These decorative gift cards from a variety of vendors are available in denominations of $25 and $50 as well as any even dollar amount between $25 and $100.

n Feeling artsy? USPS now offers on-demand framed stamp art at its new eBay store. Visit for more details.

Wrapping Style

n For a limited time at retail locations, the new medium and large Priority Mail Flat Rate® boxes will feature a printed design. These boxes are available at no extra charge and can add a special touch to your wrapping style. Quantities are limited, so get yours today.

n Skip the late-night wrapping session. Use decorative ReadyPost® holiday boxes and bubble mailers to simplify your gift wrapping needs. ReadyPost shipping products are available in Post Offices in various sizes and designs priced from $1.89 to $4.59.

Letters from Santa — North Pole Postmarks

Encourage customers to give their child an unforgettable gift — a personalized letter from Santa! The U.S. Postal Service® can help keep the enchantment of Santa Claus alive by delivering a letter from Jolly Old Saint Nick, postmarked from the North Pole.

Here’s how:

1. Write a personalized letter to a child from Santa Claus and sign it “From Santa.” See sample letters below.

2. Insert the letter into an envelope and address it to the child.

3. Add the return address: SANTA, NORTH POLE, to the envelope.

4. Ensure a First-Class Mail stamp is affixed to the envelope.

5. Place the complete envelope into a larger envelope, with appropriate postage, and address it to:

North Pole Postmark
4141 Postmark Drive
Anchorage, AK 99530-9998

“Letters from Santa” must be received by the Anchorage, AK Postmaster no later than December 15, 2014. Santa’s helpers in Anchorage, AK, will take care of the rest!

Promotion Ideas

Promoting the holidays and our products and services can be done in any Post Office lobby, and it’s a great way to show our customers and the community it’s the best time of year for the Postal Service. Here are some general tips to keep in mind this holiday season:

n Ensure you have plenty of supplies available and that your retail product line is configured as outlined in the Planogram.

n Be a Priority Mail Flat Rate expert; the improved features make Priority Mail a great deal for holiday shipping.

n Send holiday cards to customers or community members to thank them for their business and support.

n When possible, host a fun activity, such as a shipping event or a raffle for holiday stamps.

n Be in the lobby to meet and greet — what better time of year to let customers know you care.

Contact your communications program specialist to maximize local media attention. Find your communications representative at:

Consider These Promotional Ideas This Holiday Season

n Shipping Tips and Tricks Party Host a holiday promotional event in the lobby or other postal facility to demonstrate packing and mailing tips. Let your backdrop consist of a display of shipping products, including Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes and ReadyPost holiday products. Demonstrate just how much can fit into a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box by packing one with some gift items to create a great photo opportunity. Show customers how to use the Self-Service Kiosks for their holiday mailings. Serve hot chocolate and holiday cookies for an added warm and fuzzy touch.

n “How to Holiday the U.S. Postal Service Way” Free Seminar Work with a local library, community center, or senior center to walk attendees through some mailing and shipping best practices. Bring the holiday Priority Mail boxes, A Charlie Brown Christmas Forever stamps, and the other available holiday stamps to celebrate the season. Demonstrate topics, such as how to send military mail or use Priority Mail Express for last-minute gifts. If an Internet connection and computer are available, show customers how to wrap up the holidays from home by creating shipping labels with postage using Click-N-Ship service on

n Priority Mail Party — Visuals attract attention. Stack Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes into the shape of a holiday tree or on a table in the lobby for a fun photo opportunity, and explain the improved features to customers.

n Stage Theatrics — Never underestimate the media draw of costumed characters. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and a team of postal elves can host a lobby event and give information on holiday mailing deadlines and packaging tips, as well as provide a fun photo opportunity for customers.

n Reality Shipping — Here is a story that’s sure to get some news media coverage: “The Great Package Race.” Invite a consumer reporter to fit as much as he or she can into two Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes and address both boxes to the same address. Have the reporter mail one package at a Post Office and the other using the convenience of Click-N-Ship and free Package Pickup on Be sure to point out to the reporter how much time and money was saved by going online. The reporter can then do a news story on when the packages arrive.

n Salute the Military — Promote the $2 military discount for Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes sent to APO/FPO addresses, as well as the Military Care Kits and military shipping dates. Wherever possible, ask local military personnel to share how important it is to receive mail when stationed overseas and away from home, particularly during the holiday season.

n Holiday Writing Party — Invite students, ROTC members, Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts, and other community groups to create cards and letters at a letter writing party in the lobby. Children can write letters for Santa, or groups can send holiday greetings to ship to service men and women overseas.

Sample Responses for Use when Preparing Written Responses from Santa

Santa Letter - 1

Santa Letter - 2