Dec. 20 is the busiest mailing day of the year. But a growing share of Americans are skipping post office lines.
Monday is the busiest day of the year for the US Post Office, which has lots of patrons grumbling about standing in line.
"The post office line is 30-deep," complains BadEmma on Twitter.
"Worst time ever to be at the post office," writes another Twitter user, Zillarella. "All I need is 2 stamps."
There are better alternatives to the post office queue. Actually, a few of them.
The easiest way is flat-rate Priority Mail boxes. The postage is the same no matter how much it weighs. So as long as it fits, as the post office likes to say, it ships.
You can create a shipping label at usps.com, pay for postage online, and even schedule a free pickup the next business day using the Internet. Just leave the packages out by the mailbox for your carrier (and be mindful of security and weather issues).
Another no-post-office method: Click-N-Ship. The service is also available at usps.com and works much the same way. But you have to weigh your package yourself.
A final alternative is to visit one of the postal service's 2,500 Automated Postal Centers, which dispense stamps, weigh packages, and calculate postage for your items.
Last holiday season, Americans went online to print 3.6 million labels with postage. This holiday season, the postal service expects the number to jump to 4.7 million, a 31 percent rise.
But that's still a drop in the ocean compared with the more than 800 million pieces expected to be mailed on Dec. 20 alone. Most Americans, it seems, still opt to stand in line for the holidays.
However you decide to mail, move fast. If you want your items to get there by Christmas, the postal service recommends you: