The U.S. Postal Service expects to process more than 16.2 million pounds of mail for U.S. military and diplomatic corps members living overseas this holiday season.

To ensure that mail reaches them by Christmas, send cards, letters and priority mail packages by Dec. 11 and Priority Mail Express Military Service items by Dec. 18, the Postal Service advises in a news release.

FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, file photo, packages wait to be sorted in a Post Office as U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Michael McDonald, gathers mail to load into his truck before making his delivery run, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

The Postal Service offers a reduced price of $17.40 on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box for mail going to Air, Army Post Office, Fleet Post Office and Diplomatic Post Office destinations worldwide, the release says. That’s a $1.50 discount from the regular price.

A free military care kit — containing labels, tape, boxes and customs forms — can be ordered by calling 800-610-8734 or visiting

To order flat-rate boxes with the “America Supports You” logo, go to

USPS provided these tips to prepare packages:

• Use strong boxes and packing tape. Avoid shoe boxes, duct tape, masking tape, string, and wire.

• Don’t use boxes from a liquor store. Boxes that indicate alcohol is inside cannot be mailed.

• Don’t ship anything with a lithium battery.

• Always put a return address on the parcel, and include the destination and return address on a card inside the parcel in case the address on the parcel is unreadable.

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• Never use holiday wrapping paper around your parcel. It’s very thin and unsuitable for the high-speed sorting machines.

To address a package, write the service member’s full name, unit and APO/FPO/DPO address with the 9-digit ZIP code. Don’t write the name of the country where the service member is stationed.