USPS Just Announced This Major Upgrade to Your Holiday Mail

·4 min read

From holiday cards to Christmas presents, the last few months of the year is the busiest time for the mail system. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) normally processes over 425 million pieces of mail every day, but this ramps up significantly once the holiday season hits. Last year, the agency accepted more than 13.2 billion letters, cards, flats, and packages for delivery between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. As we move closer and closer to the 2022 holiday season, the Postal Service is already making some major upgrades for customers. Read on to find out what the USPS is planning for the holidays.

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The USPS previously announced that it's hiking prices for the holidays.

Americans are already aware of one change happening with their holiday mail, and it's not a festive one. Back in August, the Postal Service announced that it had filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) about plans to temporarily hike prices for the 2022 holiday season. The PRC has since approved the rate adjustment—so starting Oct. 2, your shipping costs could increase to anywhere from 25 cents to $6.50 per package, "depending on the weight of the package and the distance it must travel," The Washington Post explained.

The increased rates will remain in effect until Jan. 22 and are in line with the temporary holiday price hikes the USPS implemented in 2020 and 2021. These added expenses will "help cover extra handling costs to ensure a successful peak season," the agency explained in its press release.

But while you may have to pay a little more, the Postal Service is now revealing a major upgrade to your holiday mail.

The agency is going to help make your mail more festive.

Your holiday mail could be adorned in a new way this year. The USPS issued a press release on Sept. 22, notifying customers about a new Christmas stamp. During a dedication ceremony at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, the agency unveiled its new "Virgin and Child" Christmas Forever stamp. The stamp features the famous 16th century oil painting of the same name.

"I am honored to represent the Postal Service as we dedicate a Christmas stamp that features one of the most revered images in the world—the Virgin Mary holding her infant child, Jesus," Jenny Utterback, the vice president of the Postal Service's Organization Development, said at the dedication. "It's a beautiful piece of art, with particular meaning this time of year. I choose my holiday cards with care, sign them with love or best wishes, and may write a personal note inside. Holiday cards are a special way to connect with family and friends. The stamp on the envelope holds significance as well."

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The Postal Service has also introduced other holiday stamps.

This is not the only new holiday stamp the USPS has unveiled for the 2022 season. The agency introduced three other prints this month, including one for Hanukkah and one for Kwanzaa. The Hanukkah stamp's art "features an original wall hanging" that was "hand-dyed, appliquéd and quilted to form an abstract image of a hanukkiah, the nine-branch candelabra used only at Hanukkah," the Postal Service explains.

The Kwanzaa stamp design "depicts two children—a girl and a boy—standing together with a kinara (candleholder) and the seven lit candles (mishumaa saba) in front of them," the USPS says. "They are dressed in robes akin to spiritual garments. A light-blue circle behind the children's heads represents wholeness and unifies the figures, and a mosaic motif frames the background."

The third is a stamp depicting artwork of four "whimsical" Holiday Elves "preparing treats and toys for holiday gift giving," per the USPS. All four new Forever stamps are being sold on the Postal Service's website as a sheet of 20 for $12, and the Virgin and Child and Holiday Elves stamps are available to order now. But the Kwanzaa and Hanukkah stamps are only available for pre-order, becoming available on Oct. 13 and Oct. 20, respectively.

The USPS is also looking to increase its workforce for the holidays.

Holiday season preparedness is on the forefront of the Postal Service's mind right now. According to a Sept. 12 press release, the agency is "actively hiring [an] additional 28,000 seasonal employees" to help cover the increase in mail being delivered during the holiday season. The USPS said this includes an additional 1,000 truck drivers across the nation, as well as letter carriers and processing team members.

"Successfully delivering for the holidays is a cornerstone of our Delivering for America 10-year plan," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement. "Thanks to the 655,000 women and men of the Postal Service, recent investments and operational precision improvements, we are ready to be the most used delivery provider this holiday season."