The Postal Service is offering some helpful hints for Americans who want to mail parcels or packages to military personnel deployed to Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia.

"By following these guidelines, your packages will get there promptly and efficiently," says Salt Lake City Postmaster Kenneth R. Prentiss.- Use a sturdy carton, large enough to accommodate the contents.

- Use some form of cushioning to protect the articles inside. Seal the parcel securely. Use pressure-sensitive tape. Avoid using brown wrapping paper, cord or string on the outside.

- Print the service member's name and address on the lower right portion of the package on one side only. It should include the service member's name, rank and service number, military organization or unit and the current APO or FPO address.

- Put your return address in the upper lefthand corner of the package. Also, include your return address on a piece of paper on the inside of the package.

- Remember, the hot temperatures of the Saudi Arabian climate when considering what to send to the troops there.

Popular items include audiocassette tapes, newspaper clippings, gum and hard candy.

- Make sure to attach a parcel post customs declaration Form 2966-A, available at local post offices, on all your packages.

The fastest way for packages to get to their destination is Priority or First Class Mail, which allows for a five- to 10-day delivery.

Prentiss said, "If people would like to send general letters or packages of support and have them distributed to the troops at random, they can simply address them to `Any Service Person, Operation Desert Shield, FPO New York, 09866-0006' for troops on ships."