With Christmas coming fast, the families of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are beginning to make plans to send homemade cookies and gifts.

A crucial part of that planning involves getting the packages to the local U.S. Post office on time.

The recommended mailing date for the most economical postage to overseas military destinations is Nov. 12.

The U.S. Postal Service will help get those care packages on their way by offering a discount on its largest priority mail flat rate box, from $14.50 to $12.50. The discount applies to packages being sent to APO/FPO addresses overseas.

Additional discounts are available for customers who print their own priority mail postage labels online at Click-N-Ship, which can be accessed through www.usps.com [1]. labels and customs forms can also be printed from the site.

Environmentally-friendly priority mail flat rate boxes are available at no cost at any U.S. Post Office, or can be ordered online at www.shop.usps.com [2].

The U.S. Postal Service offers free Military Care Kits, designed specifically for military families sending packages overseas. The kits can be ordered by phone by calling 1-800-610-8734. Each kit includes two "America Supports You" large priority mail flat rate boxes, four medium sized priority mail flat rate boxes, six priority mail labels, one roll of priority mail tape and six customs forms with envelopes.

For online ordering of the large priority mail APO/FPO flat rate boxes featuring the "America Supports You" logo and information about mailing letters and packages to military destinations, go to www.usps.com/supportingourtroops/ [3].