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There by Christmas
Turlock postal service Christmas
Postmaster Sucha Attwal, supervisor Ashley Kahn and window clerk Katie Kindle hold a USPS display that offers some tips for making sure your holiday post arrives at its destination before Christmas Day (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

You’ve braved the crowds at the shopping center and picked out that perfect gift. You’ve even managed to wrap it up with a nice bow. But that’s only half the battle.

The other half?

Making sure your parcel gets to its destination before Christmas Day.

The holiday season is now in full swing and we’re just days away from what postmaster Sucha Attwal calls the busiest day of the year for the Turlock post office.

“We anticipate Monday (Dec. 12) being our busiest day,” said Attwal.

Typically, the Monday that falls roughly two weeks before the Christmas Day is the busiest of the year for the U.S. Postal Service. After that, it’s a mad dash to the finish line.

There are several things you can do to make the shipping process go more smoothly.

For starters, make sure to properly address your post — with complete shipping and return addresses. And don’t forget the apartment number or suite number. Also, write legibly. And be sure to use enough postage. Don’t try to cram a couple of pencils, an eraser and a pack of stickers into the grandkids’ Christmas card. That will make it too heavy and it’ll either be returned to you or delivered with postage due … and you don’t want the kiddies to have to bust open their piggy banks, do you?

Window clerk Katie Kindle, who has worked for the USPS for nearly 17 years, has some tips for sending packages.

“Make sure it’s a sturdy box,” said Kindle. “That’s really important because it has to go through our machines. And make sure it’s taped well, with packing tape — no masking tape or duct tape. The tape should extend over the sides of the box about three inches — and taping all the seams is always a good idea.”

Kindle also had some advice regarding deadlines.

For overnight or second-day delivery — also known as Priority Express Mail — you should aim to visit the post office no later than Dec. 22 (you might get away with Dec. 23, but the time of day and the parcel’s weight and destination could work against you). For Priority Mail, which comes with a tracking number and $100 worth of insurance, the deadline is about Dec. 18. For First Class Mail and Retail Ground options, you might want to get those mailed off by Dec. 17.

But Kindle stressed, “It’s never too early to mail your packages.”

Mail intended for members of the military and addressed to an APO (Army Post Office) or FPO (Fleet Post Office) should be mailed by Dec. 9. Mail headed for international destinations generally requires six to 10 days depending on customs and foreign postal services.

For mailing those traditional Christmas card envelopes, it’s 60 cents up to one ounce. For every ounce up to 3.5 ounces, add an additional 24 cents. Envelopes can be as small as 3 1/2 inches by 5 inches or as big as 6 1/8 inches by 11 1/2 inches.

Confused? Don’t worry. Your neighborhood postal worker is eager to help.

“This is the most awesome time to be a postal worker,” said supervisor Ashley Kahn, who delivered mail for 10 years.

Kahn, when she was delivering mail, would collect letters addressed to the North Pole, take a peek at the wish lists inside, and buy at least one gift for the young sender.

“Our customers always take care of us, leaving waters out for us in the summertime, things like that,” said Kahn. “Christmas is the one time that I can give back to my families.”

Be sure to visit or go to page A2 to learn more about Operation Santa, where you can send a gift to an anonymous recipient to help make sure they have a merry Christmas.