U.S. Postal Service releases deadlines for holiday mail

Have a package you'd like to get to a soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan by Christmas? You're out of luck. The deadline for mailing packages to the two countries through the U.S. Postal Service was Dec. 4.

But there's still time to get gifts to faraway friends and family within the United States and in most international locations, as well as to soldiers not stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan, by Dec. 25.

Other USPS deadlines for holiday shipping are as follows:

■ Dec. 11: Military mail for overseas bases other than those in Iraq or Afghanistan, and international first-class and Priority Mail to locations outside Africa and Central and South America. For more international schedules, visit

■ Dec. 16: Parcel Post (standard mail at the cheapest rate).

■ Dec. 20: First-class mail (letters, cards and small packages).

■ Dec. 20: Priority Mail (two- to three-day delivery).

■ Dec. 23: Express Mail (overnight shipping). This is the most expensive option.

Though your package can reach its holiday destination from as late as a Christmas Eve mailing, procrastinators pay the price.

Susan Wright, customer-relations coordinator at the Lexington Post Office, said, "It's important for people at our heaviest mailing time of the year to get their packages in as early as possible ... because if they wait for the last minute, they pay premium rates."

To help alleviate the Christmas shipping influx, Lexington post offices will have extended hours, which vary by location, through Dec. 20. Call or visit your local office for hours or visit Customers can also call 1-800-275-8777 for information about postal services.

Consumers can also ship packages and buy postage supplies through eight contract postal unit locations throughout Lexington. Those locations are:

■ Rite Aid-Park Hills Shopping Center, 3120 Pimlico Parkway.

■ Meijer, all locations.

■ Gleneagles Chevron, 6400 Polo Club Boulevard.

■ Eastland True Value Hardware, 1315 Winchester Road.

■ Tropical Smoothie, Chinoe Shopping Center, 1060 Chinoe Road.

■ Patriot Tax Service, 1388 Alexandria Drive.

■ PIP Printing, 433 Southland Drive.