LIHUE — Christmas is nearly three weeks away, and Monday people were lined up at the Lihue post office.
Stamped and boxed presents were being sent on their way to California, Utah, Arizona, Florida, Alaska and even Russia.
Sydney Theadora, a novelist and Lihue resident since 1999, mailed the majority of her gifts two weeks ago to family in Ohio.
“There’s a gift for each of my three sisters, my two grandkids and my daughter,” Theadora said. “We’re at the age where they got rice packs, heating pads that you put in the microwave, and these socks that you put on that smooth your feet, things I’ve found that make me feel better.”
Small gifts were on their way, intended to bring happiness and aloha to people in distant places. Some other holiday presents included clothes, food and an umbrella.
The U.S. Postal Service suggests sending packages out by today for first-class and priority mail headed to international and overseas military destinations. First-class and priority mail being sent to the Mainland should be mailed out by Dec. 15.
Procrastinators have until Dec. 20 to send their holiday cheer to the Mainland via expedited priority express shipping service.
The postal service expects to process and deliver more than 15 billion pieces of mail and 850 million packages nationwide between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, an increase of 10 percent over last year.
If you use UPS, recommended cut-off dates for shipping gifts for delivery by Christmas Eve are Dec. 18, ground service; Dec. 19, 3-day Select; Dec. 22, 2nd Day Air; Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, Next Day Air.
Debra DeLuis, a Lihue resident of 10 years who works at Catholic Charities, was mailing gifts to her daughter in Southern California, along with her two grandsons and son-in-law, as well as her son in Arizona.
“My son really likes local foods,” she said. “So he misses some things. And Spam there costs a fortune.”
In addition to flavored Spam, DeLuis was sending boxes filled with local coffee, candy, macadamia nuts, chocolate-covered mochi and Anahola Granola. For her grandchildren, she was mailing books to encourage them to continue reading, which they love to do.
The busiest mailing and shipping week nationwide is expected to be Dec. 18-24, when nearly three billion pieces of mail —including greeting cards and packages — will be delivered.
“I’m sending out Christmas presents early this year,” said Kapaa resident Angelei Valko, “things from Hawaii and some handmade ornaments.”
Her holiday gifts are going to relatives in California and Maryland, including her grandmother, boyfriend and future mother-in-law.
“That’s when you use flat-rate boxes,” she added.
One money-saving tip to make the holidays a little brighter is using priority mail flat-rate boxes. Customers can send up to 70 pounds in large flat-rate boxes that feature “Seasons Greetings from Hawaii” printed on the side.
To save time, pay for postage and print out your mailing label at USPS.com. Your carrier can be notified to pick up packages, usually the next business day, at no extra charge. You can also drop off prepaid packages at a post office without waiting in line.
Jack Navitsky, who has been visiting from Alaska for years, was mailing presents like chocolates, souvenirs and a calendar to friends back home.
“They’re expensive souvenirs, but it’s actually pretty good service from here, really,” he said. “They should receive it by the end of the week.”
Lihue resident Edison Badua was mailing a heaping stack of holiday cards to family and friends on the Big Island, and also on Kauai.
“I’m mailing Christmas cards and our family pictures,” he said. “I’m just trying to get things out on time.”