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Christmas shipping deadline nears

Christmas is less than two weeks away and shipping companies are beginning to feel the rush that comes with holiday packages.

"It's not a crazy increase, but it has been increasing," said Toni Kuntz of The UPS Store in Dickinson.

Beginning Monday through Christmas will be the busiest time of the season, she said.

"That's when we really see it crazy," Kuntz said.

However, it's not too late to mail that special gift to someone.

The Dickinson post office, The UPS Store and FedEx are closed Christmas Day but will deliver packages until Christmas Eve.

When sending gifts, it's best to put wrapped items into a plain box.

"The only thing that we ask is that it's not wrapped with brown wrapping paper or even brown grocery bag because if they stick a label on that and it accidently gets torn, then the label is gone," Kuntz said.

If sending your package with the United States Postal Service, a wrapped present can be sent, but it isn't recommended, said Wendy Key, officer in charge at the Dickinson post office.

"Any of that loose wrapping is not good," Key said. "The plainer the box, the quicker the package would get there because there's not all that stuff on there that could possibly delay it."

Reusing boxes to ship items is can also be tricky. Key said labels of boxes that once held alcohol, bleach or any hazardous material need to be covered because those items can't be mailed.

"And if they're caught in the mail stream, then the employees do not know for sure what's inside there, so then they treat it as a hazardous material, which delays your package," Key said.

It may be best to simply use a new box, said Robert Boulware, FedEx Ground media relations representative.

"Boxes, like anything else have a limited life and a new box is more structurally sound," Boulware said.

Shirt boxes and others that are not sturdy shouldn't be used for shipping, Key said.

"If another package gets on top of them, then those will squish," she added.

Employees of shipping companies have seen several strange items sent across the country and beyond.

Key has worked with a customer who sent a cake every year to out-of state relatives.

"She frosts it and puts it in a box and sends it," she said. "She says it's always arrived in good shape."

Kuntz said UPS has shipped everything from a stuffed fish to an antler chandelier.

FedEx has shipped about 15,000 real Christmas trees for servicemen and women serving abroad and their families at home, according to its website. They have also shipped several types of live animals.

Questions regarding shipping and how to pack packages can be addressed with shipping companies.