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Deadline to mail gifts at normal rate draws near

By Richard Yeakley
Dec. 14, 2012 at 11 p.m.

The cut-off date for shipping packages to arrive by Christmas is Monday for most businesses, prompting many Longview residents to wait in line Friday to make gifts get to loved ones on time.

While families load cars and buy plane tickets to spend the holidays together, the reality for many families is Christmas spent apart.

So those like Debra Thomson mail dozens of gifts across America to children who can't make it home. With 10 days remaining, the window to mail gifts inexpensively is drawing to a close.

"In an average year, I mail about 20 gifts," said Thomson as she shipped a gift to her daughter in Florida. "I have to ship gifts every year because my kids are everywhere."

Jacob Galvan, the center manager for Longview's FedEx Office Print & Ship Center, said Monday is the cut-off date for ground mail transport at the standard cost to arrive by Christmas from FedEx.

After Monday, interstate package transport must be completed through a FedEx Express shipment, FedEx two day shipping or overnight shipping, Galvan said.

Galvan, who said the center was slammed on Thursday and Friday, said the weekend promised to be even busier.

"We got hit pretty hard at the beginning of December, and then it tapers off. I am expecting increased volume ... especially this weekend," Galvan said.

Dave Cornett, owner of the Pack N Mail chain in Longview, said Christmas is his company's best time of the year.

Cornett said the number of employees working during the holiday season swells from nine to about 20.

But Cornett said although it will be more expensive, shoppers can get gifts to their loved ones as long as they ship them before noon on Dec. 22.

"It depends on what you are sending and where you are sending it. If you are shipping something to Dallas, you might be able to send it on Thursday normally and it arrive," Cornett said. "For all the procrastinators, you have until about noon on Saturday, but the sooner you get them sent, the cheaper it will be."

The United Parcel Service's holiday schedule agrees with Cornett's advice.

According to the schedule, both UPS Next Day Air and UPS 2nd Day Air packages picked up on Thursday will arrive before Christmas, as will UPS Next Day Air packages picked up Friday.

Cornett said last minute shoppers should consider how an item will ship when they purchase.

"People have gotten a lot better about this. They used to come in with gift baskets trying to mail them. It seems people are buying smaller, lighter items to ship," Cornett said.

The weight and distance of travel affects cost of shipping, Cornett said.

Christine Curtis, who mailed a follow-up package of gifts to her step-daughter in Maryland on Friday said she considered herself a shipping professional.

"I try to buy gifts on purpose that I can ship easily, and I am careful who I ship through, because many of these are memories that are more valuable than money," Curtis said.

Curtis said she ships three or four large boxes to her family in Maryland every year for the holidays, but because she does it early, she only pays about $50 in shipping.



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