Holiday Help: Shipping Tips

Knoxville (WVLT) - Between now and Christmas, package delivery vans will start resembling Santa's sleigh, they'll be filled to the brim.

Volunteer TV's Bob Yarbrough is here to help you get a jump on the holiday shipping madness.

Did you know, that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the United States Postal Service says it will process nearly 20 billion pieces of mail?

So, with that in mind, how do you make sure your holiday cards and gifts don't get lost in the shuffle?

Simple, avoidable mistakes are some of the biggest culprits in causing packages to be delayed or lost during the holidays.

Things as simple as making sure your shipping box is large enough, and you're using the correct address.

And when it comes to mailing labels, "always put a label on the outside of the package and it's a good idea to include a label on the inside of the package in case something happens to the exterior wrapper, that it would become displaced," says Tony Maples from the USPS.

Improper packing can also drive up the cost of shipping, so, look for ready to send boxes, which often come with a flat-rate cost of shipping.

"Regardless of the weight, whatever you can get in that package, as long as it maintains the integrity of the package, you can ship for $8.10," Maples explains.

Four post offices in Knox County now have kiosks in their main lobby where customers can handle just about everything involved in mailing a package.

"Which gives customers 24/7 access that they can go and weigh packages, look up zip codes and basically do everything to ship a package at their convenience," Maples says.

And finally, there may even be a way for you to avoid the post office completely, and still have your cards, letters and packages delivered on time.

Visit and point and click your way to a shipping label that also comes complete with a front door pick-up, if you choose.

"Basically what happens, when they prepare the shipping label, they can check that they want a carrier pickup, that information is sent the to local office and the next day the carrier will come to pick up the package, there is no cost for that pickup," Maples explains.

The post office processes about 400 thousand pieces of mail each day, between now and Christmas there will be times when that number doubles or triples.

Clearly, if you don't want to the Grinch to steal your Christmas, the sooner you get to the post office, the better.