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Want your package to arrive by Christmas? Here's when to send it

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  A U.S. Postal Service clerk helps customers at the Los Feliz Post Office on February 6, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The U.S. Postal Service plans to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail by August, which could save the service $2 billion annually after losing nearly $16 billion last fiscal year.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
A U.S. Postal Service clerk helps customers at the Los Feliz Post Office.

There's still time to send your gifts before the U.S. Postal Service's mail-by dates, but you need to move fast.

Here are the remaining domestic shipping dates:

  • First-Class Mail: Dec. 20
  • Priority Mail: Dec. 21
  • Priority Mail Express: Dec. 23

Richard Maher, a Postal Service spokesman, spoke about the week of Monday, Dec. 19 up until Christmas being their busiest week of the year, with Monday being the busiest day. They expected 12 million customers nationwide on Monday, with 7 million using the Post Office's online shipping options. They're also expecting to deliver 30 million packages a day this week.
"Our package volume has increased significantly over last year — a 12 percent increase, and we're expecting 750 million packages during this holiday season. But we're ready for it, we've added holiday help, and we're delivering packages seven days a week during the month of December. So we're on top of it, and we're ready to get those gifts delivered by the holidays," Maher said.

Maher himself was station at the post office near Los Angeles International Airport.

"We started off very busy. We had people lining up an hour ahead of time before we opened. But we were fully staffed, and we were moving the people through. We have a lobby director," Maher said.

Some pro tips from Maher for a quick and easy time at the post office in these closing days:

  • Have labels ready to go
  • Have forms, such as customs forms or priority express mailing forms, ready to go
  • Make sure your boxes are all taped up and ready to ship
  • Skip the trip and ship online if possible at

Maher said that customers should also remember not to send alcohol or other unapproved items by mail. If discovered, he said, restricted items would be discarded or returned to the original sender.
The list of restricted domestic items is similar to commercial air travel’s prohibited items: aerosols, cigarettes, tobacco, dry ice, glues, live animals, nail polish, perfumes, poisons, prescription drugs, alcoholic beverages, cremated remains, firearms, lithium batteries, matches and flammable paint all make the Postal Service's naughty list.

But Christmas cookies and cakes?

“Now those, we accept,” Maher said.

For more information on shipping guidelines and international mailing deadlines, visit the USPS website.

This story has been updated.