Mail service is a little different for those of us that live in rural areas like Sedalia and Warrensburg. That's why I'd heed the United States Postal Service advice and get those Christmas presents in the mail sooner than later.

The USPS says they expect to process about the same amount of mail this holiday season as they did last year. That means they expect to process and deliver between 850 to 950 million packages this year, and more than 12 billion pieces of mail.

That can be a challenge for those of us in the Sedalia/Warrensburg area. Because mail service in our area, sometimes just takes a little longer. There are times where items come more quickly than expected. And other times it just seems to take forever. And then, right when you think that card or package was lost for good. It shows up.

According to the USPS here are the dates you need to have stuff in the mail so it arrives at its destination on Christmas:

  • Dec. 9 — APO/FPO/DPO (all ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground service
  • Dec. 16 — APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express Military service
  • Dec. 17 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)
  • Dec. 17 — First-Class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
  • Dec. 18 — Priority Mail service
  • Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express* service

The dates are even earlier if you're looking at sending packages overseas or to Alaska or Hawaii or members of the military. You can check those dates out here.

Bottom line, based on my experience with the United States Postal Service here in West Central Missouri, get those Christmas cards, Christmas care packages, and Christmas gifts out even before the deadline. If they show up at their destination sooner that's great, it's more presents under the tree. And it's a better option than having those Christmas items show up on December 26 or later.

LOOK: See what Christmas was like the year you were born

TOP 10: The best holiday TV specials of all time, ranked