BOISE, Idaho — With Christmas just weeks away, post offices across Idaho are preparing for their busiest time of the year. 

Officials say they expect an "avalanche" of holiday cards and packages - and they're taking steps to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. 

"We prepare all year for the holidays," USPS District Manager Laura Hubrich said in a release. "It's our season, and we're ready to deliver for our customers." 

To better deal with the mailing onslaught the postal service has hired more than 100 employees, expanded package delivery to seven days a week, and increased delivery hours to include evenings and early mornings.  

The Postal Service expects to deliver 800 million packages nationwide between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Idaho officials are encouraging residents to send out those treats and presents early: Although the volume of customers begins to pick up in early December, the week of Dec. 16 is projected to be the busiest.   

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"Our goal is to provide excellent service and ensure all those holiday cards and packages are delivered in time," said Hubrich.

Those sending out mail can ship packages from home by requesting free package pickup at usps.com, and use self-service kiosks to buy stamps and send mail 24 hours a day. 

The U.S. Postal Service has also released shipping deadlines for U.S. and international mail, so customers can be sure their package will reach its destination in time for the holidays. 

Holiday Military Shipping Deadlines

•    Dec. 9 – Priority Mail and First-Class Mail to Military addresses in Iraq and Afghanistan 

•    Dec. 11 – Priority Mail and First-Class Mail to all other Military addresses

•    Dec. 18 – USPS Priority Mail Express to Military Addresses (except Iraq and Afghanistan) 

International Shipping Deadlines

•    Nov. 30 – Priority Mail International to Africa, Central and South America 

•    Dec. 7 – Priority Mail International to all other countries 

•    Dec. 7 – Priority Mail Express International to Africa, Central and South America

•    Dec. 14 – Priority Mail Express International to all other countries

•    Dec. 18 to 19 – Global Express Guaranteed depending on country 

Domestic Shipping Deadlines

•    Dec. 14 – USPS Retail Ground

•    Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail and packages

•    Dec. 21 – Priority Mail

•    Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express

The following post offices will also have extended hours every Saturday until Christmas, and will open a dutch door from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday before Christmas for customers wanting to pick up notified mail or packages which couldn't be delivered on the first attempt.

  • Boise Main 770 S. 13th St. – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Boise Five Mile 1350 S. Five Mile Rd. – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Caldwell 832 Arthur St. – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Meridian 1200 N. Main St. – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Pocatello Main 730 E. Clark St. – 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Twin Falls Pioneer 1376 Fillmore St. – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Nampa Post Office 123 11th Ave S – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Nampa Sunday Dutch Door Package Pick up will be available at the Nampa Carrier Annex 820 Park Centre Way – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday before Christmas)