It’s not Thanksgiving Day yet, but lines of Christmas giftand card-senders are beginning to form at Valley post offices, shipping companies and private delivery services throughout the Valley.

No, not really.

But, people are beginning to think about standing in those long lines and waiting.

"The biggest mental block people have now is thinking about having to stand in line and wait forever to send their gifts and cards so they get there before Christmas," said Fred Zapata, co-owner with his wife, Karin, of two Postnet delivery services in Chandler.

"There’s no question the lines will begin to form after Thanksgiving and will continue even through December 23, but they can be avoided — and the emotional pressure eliminated — with a little advanced preparation," Zapata said.

Starting Monday, Zapata’s delivery branches at 3165 S. Alma School Road and 4050 W. Ray Road will begin to attract those seasonal lines which, he said, will rise to a crest during the expected busiest day — Dec. 13 — and gradually diminish to the final mailing deadline of Dec. 23.

The senders will be bringing Zapata and his employees everything from holiday cards and gift packages to be delivered either by the U.S. Postal Service or delivery companies such as Federal Express, United Parcel Services or DHL Worldwide Express.

The deadline for mailing packages so they’ll arrive on or before Dec. 25 out-of-state is Dec. 21. Deadline for packages mailed in-state is Dec. 22 and for overseas it’s Dec. 11, Zapata said.

The shipping companies provide overnight services, but at a very expensive rate.

Jonathan Baker, spokesman for DHL, said the peak pickup day for his company is Dec. 13 and the busiest delivery date is Dec. 20.

"We recommend that the appropriate address label is put on before sealing the package to avoid sending your best friend’s gift to your great aunt," Baker said.

"Also, double-box all fragile shipments. Not only will your items be protected, but it’s more fun to open multiple boxes to get to the gift."

Meanwhile, delivery companies such as Postnet and shipping company branch offices throughout the Valley are preparing for the Dec. 13th zenith of holiday mailing days.

"The numbers of people sending holiday packages on Dec. 13 is between four and five times bigger than a normal day," Zapata said. "After that, the numbers gradually dwindle."

"The suggestions I give to people sending gifts is to avoid using string on the outside of the package, and make sure the outside is unmarked, strong paper," Zapata said.

The string is discouraged because of a tendency to become tangled as the package moves along a conveyer belt.

"And, of course, try to send the package early so you can avoid the long lines," he said.

Ronda Carrington, manager of consumer affairs for the U.S. Postal Service in Phoenix, said that while Dec. 13 is expected to be the busiest for private shipping companies, the big day for post office employees is Dec. 20. That’s when the postal service expects to handle 280 million cards and letters and packages on Dec. 20, three times the volume of mailed handled on a regular day.

In Arizona, more than a million cards, letters and packages are delivered on average daily. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this figure is expected to jump to between 2 million and may go as high as 4 million per day on average.

The biggest mail delivery day of the year is Dec. 23, Carrington said. "We encourage people to send their packages early," said Carrington, who also suggested using the postal service’s Click-N-Ship online service at

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