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The holidays seem to come faster each year. Time escapes us and we have no idea where it has gone. During all the hustle and bustle, don’t forget about those looming deadlines.

If you want to get your Christmas cards and gifts sent off to loved ones on time, you might need some helpful shipping guidelines.

“Please note that Mother Nature does not adhere to our schedules, and weather can and will delay the delivery of your packages,” said Rhonda Blaylock, co-owner of Goin’ Postal in St. Joseph. “Our best advice is ship early. It’s better the packages are waiting under their tree than sitting on a loading dock or stuck in a truck somewhere.”

Here is a list of shipping deadlines for getting gifts to their recipients by Christmas.

UPS Ground: Dec. 13

UPS 3 Days Select: Dec. 19

UPS 2nd Day Air: Dec. 20

UPS Next Day Air: Dec. 23

FedEx Ground: Dec. 17

FedEx Saver: Dec. 19

FedEx 2nd Day: Dec. 20

FedEx Overnight: Dec. 21

US Postal Services:

First Class Mail: Dec. 20

Priority Mail: Dec. 21

Priority Mail Express: Dec. 23

Military overseas packages will need to be out sooner, and Blaylock will have that shipping schedule posted at the store as soon as the post office has the dates available.

“When shipping out of the country, please check the internet for things you cannot ship to that country,” Blaylock said. “Homemade goodies are allowed if you list all the ingredients and how you made them. There is a process for shipping overseas, whether it is a military package or regular address. Ship early and come by to get the forms and packing/shipping advice. If you are concerned about packing, we can pack it for you.”

Quick tips for shipping from Goin’ Postal

Bubble wrap and double-box fragile items.

Include a slip of paper with the name and address of the intended recipient AND your contact information INSIDE the package in case of damage to the label.

Use a new box if you need to insure your items. Shippers will not pay a claim on a used box. If you must use a previously shipped box, make sure that it’s sturdy and cross out any old labels (ANY references to alcohol, chemicals or hazardous materials) on the exterior of the box.

You cannot insure checks, gift cards or cash. It is not good to ship cash anyway.

Do not use: string, masking tape, cellophane tape, duct tape or electrical tape to seal your package or cover your package in any sort of paper over-wrap like brown paper, wrapping paper etc.

When shipping items to an APO/FPO: for heavier items we have found a USPS flat rate box is your best bet.

A list of common restricted materials can be found at www.usps.com, www.fedex.com and www.ups.com.

Now that you know when you have to get those packages sent off, what about cards? How soon is too soon? And really, how long can you procrastinate?

According to practicaletiquette.com, if you’re really proactive on your Christmas etiquette, you’ll have this year’s cards bought right around Halloween, and you can spend a leisurely November addressing them. Include a short personal message to each recipient, and sign and address your cards by hand whenever possible. It’s not proper to send them out before Thanksgiving, so hold off until Black Friday. Sending your cards before the last minute gives your friends and family the opportunity to reciprocate.

I’m guessing the majority of us are not sitting around filling out Christmas cards right now. In case you don’t have all your cards ready to drop in the mailbox by Black Friday, Blaylock suggests sending your cards no later than Dec. 20.

The holidays are supposed to be a time to enjoy family and friends. We aren’t supposed to be stressed out and scrambling at the last minute. So ship early so you can sit back and enjoy the holidays.