The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) kicked off the season with the first holiday stamp released Oct. 14 with the Christmas-themed Madonna and Child. The holiday series also includes Hanukkah, released Oct. 15; Kwanzaa, released Oct. 16; and Holiday Ornaments, available Nov. 17.

"These images capture the joy and excitement of this very special time of the year," said David Fineman, USPS Board of Governors Chairman. "We're delighted to share them as we enter the busy holiday mailing season."

USPS delivers more than 40 percent of the world's mail and only reindeer deliver it faster.-

If the weatherman has started tracking Santa's sleigh, use Express Mail to get that Christmas gift delivered on time. Express Mail offers guaranteed next-day delivery by noon to most locations, or your money back! The Postal Service even delivers Express Mail on Christmas Day, New Years Day, 365 days a year. There is no extra charge either for Saturday, Sunday or holiday delivery.-

Express Mail shipping supplies are available for free at your post office or you can order them via the Internet. Express Mail items are automatically insured for up to $100 at no additional cost.

-If it is the week before the holiday, Priority Mail will give you two-to-three day service to most domestic addresses at rates that make it the best value in the shipping industry. Priority Mail rates begin at $3.85 for items weighing up to a pound or any items regardless of weight if it fits in our special Flat-Rate Envelope. For packages weighing up to 70 pounds, Priority Mail rates are based on weight and distance to be traveled. There is no extra charge for Saturday delivery and shipping supplies are available at your Post Office and on the Internet (www.usps.com/shop) for free.

For packages 13 ounces or less, you can't beat First-Class Mail, the same service you rely on to pay bills, send birthday cards and letters. First-Class Mail rates vary based on weight, so cross-country items cost no more than packages sent across town. You can insure your gift, certify that it gets delivered, confirm the delivery and even register it for up to $25,000.

If you are the organized type and have been shopping since March for your friends and loved ones, Parcel Post is an economical service that can serve your mailing needs. It's especially cost effective for heavier items (up to 70 pounds). For a little more, you can insure your gift or find out when the package was delivered and received.

For more information on holiday services from the Postal Service, visit your local post office, or go to www.usps.com/shop and choose "Send Mail and Packages."--

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