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Ho-ho-hot tips

USPS offers advice for holiday mail safety

USPS offers free Priority Mail boxes to help customers with their holiday shipping needs.

The Postal Service is helping customers get ready for the holiday delivery season.

In a news release this month, the organization shared the following tips:

When shipping gifts, a reused box isn’t as sturdy as a new box and can weaken or break open in transit. However, if a box must be reused, customers should make sure any labels or markings are removed or completely crossed out, especially if the box has labels or markings associated with hazardous, prohibited or restricted materials.

Overpacking a box can cause the sides or the seams to bulge or break. If customers can’t fit everything in one box, they should consider sending items in multiple shipments. Free Priority Mail boxes can be ordered through

Be on the lookout for hazards. Customers should clear any snow or ice on steps, sidewalks and driveways and around mailboxes. They should also remove yard equipment, toys and yard trimmings that could cause a mail carrier to trip.

Dog owners should keep their pets secured. If a carrier delivers mail or packages to the front door, it helps to place a dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door.

The Postal Service also wants customers to remember there are size and weight restrictions for packages sent through USPS. Unless customers use Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express, the price they pay to ship items depends on the shape and weight of the package.

The Postal Service also has rules in place to keep certain hazardous, restricted and perishable items out of the mail. Customers can consuult Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail for more information.