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Ensuring those serving in the nation's armed and diplomatic services receive their holiday mail in time is a priority for the U.S. Postal Service, which encourages customers to mail early.

SALT LAKE CITY — Few things can bring a smile to the face of U.S. servicemen and women faster than a package from home. Ensuring those serving in the nation's armed and diplomatic services receive their holiday mail in time is a priority for the U.S. Postal Service, which encourages customers to mail early.

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Holiday packages going to military addresses in Iraq and Afghanistan should be in the mail by Monday — all other military addresses by Dec. 11. For international destinations, mail-by dates range from Thursday to Dec. 9, depending on the country.

The Postal Service anticipates delivering more than 15 billion pieces of mail this holiday season, including a record-breaking 850 million packages, which is more than a 10 percent increase compared to the same time last year. More than 6 million packages are expected to be delivered each Sunday in large cities and where volumes warrant during the holiday season. In Utah alone, a record 7.3 million packages are expected to be delivered during the holidays.