People still have 25 shopping days before Christmas, but deadlines for mailing packages to the Lower 48 and to overseas military addresses are fast approaching.
The U.S. Postal Service deadline for Parcel Post officially is Dec. 14 for delivery before Christmas, but Alaskans need to add three or four business days to that, according to Margaret Merrill, postmaster in Soldotna.
“We usually suggest people get things here a week earlier,” Merrill said.
The USPS First-Class deadline is Dec. 19 within the continental United States, so, applying Merrill’s formula, the deadline from Alaska to the Lower 48 is Dec. 12.
Priority Mail normally takes about three to four business days, but considering that Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, it should get to Alaska post offices no later than Dec. 20.
The deadline already is past for getting parcels to members of the military at overseas addresses by Space Available Mail, but to get things there by Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL), the deadline is Saturday to all APOs and FPOs.
For military APO and FPO addresses with a 093 ZIP, the deadline for Priority Mail and First-Class Mail letters and cards is Monday. Mail to all other APOs and FPOs must be sent by Dec. 10.
Folks who miss the post office deadlines also have the option of shipping by private-sector shippers, such as UPS and FedEx.
Although UPS does not have Christmas Day delivery, the company does offer guaranteed two-day service, according to Connie Gatling, owner of the UPS Store near Jo-Ann Fabrics in the Soldotna Mall.
For delivery by Dec. 23, people need to have their packages to the store by Dec. 21.
“We also have overnight service,” Gatling said. “Our overnight goes out in the morning, so people need to have things here by 9 a.m.”
The UPS Store does gift wrapping, as well as packaging and shipping.
“There’s just a nominal fee for gift wrapping,” she said.
“Most people prefer to do that themselves to personalize their gifts.”
Packaging charges vary depending on what is being shipped and the weight of the package. Costs include materials and labor.
The UPS Store has extended its hours for the Christmas season and plans to be open the two Sundays before Christmas.
Other private-sector shippers in the central Kenai Peninsula are The Mail Station near the Kenai Safeway Store and FedEx, which has a station near the Kenai Municipal Airport.
Representatives from the Mail Station and FedEx were unavailable for comment.
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