For Christmas, I had to send packages to my brother and brother-in-law's families. Our post office is not the most convenient to get to, and now that I'm back working, I really don't have a convenient time to go.
I already knew you could print out shipping labels online, so I did a little more investigating. You can actually set up a pick-up for your mail carrier! I went to the USPS website, and there is a tab for setting it up. You pick the day and the place they will collect the packages. I chose the front door, but they had multiple choices and a place for any notes you need to leave them. I left the boxes out, and they were gone when I got home from work! We were a little skeptical and wondered if someone else decided to pick them up, but we got a confirmation e-mail from the post office the next day saying that they picked up the boxes.
I also did a little comparing between the flat rate boxes and using your own. For my brother's presents, it was better to send it in my own package, because I couldn't fit one box into the small flat rate box. If I could have, it was the same price. My brother-in-law's package was going to be about the same either way. You have to weigh the packages in order to print out shipping labels for non-flat rate boxes. I used our food scale to do this.
This little discovery definitely made my holiday season a little easier!