You may be able to get away without paying for shipping when you order gifts online. But when you’re sending gifts out on your own, you may not be so lucky. With that in mind, make sure to keep track of these benchmark dates in order to assure your packages arrive in time for Christmas.
For shipments via the U.S. Postal Service the deadlines are:
- Dec. 11, Military mail for other overseas bases
- Dec. 16, Parcel Post, the most economical service
- Dec. 20, First-Class Mail; Dec. 20, Priority Mail
- Dec. 23, Express Mail
For UPS shipments:
Most ground shipments arrive at their destination in one to three days, and you should aim to drop off your packages by Dec. 18. Some destinations require additional time, other less. Use this UPS calculator to estimate how long it will take your package to reach its destination.
Using UPS air services, procrastinators can ship as late as Dec. 23 and still have their package ready for opening on Christmas morning. However, there’s a catch. While customers can ship on Dec. 23 via Next Day Air for Wednesday arrival, those deliveries are subject to premium pricing and delivery is limited to select areas. Also, you must request from the driver a special routing label. The deadlines for other air options are Dec. 19 for economy 3 Day Select service and Dec. 22 for 2nd Day Air.
FedEx deadlines pretty much mirror those of UPS. Dec. 23 is the latest you can ship a package, via Overnight Service (either First Overnight, Priority Overnight, or Standard Overnight) for delivery on Christmas Eve. According to a company spokeswoman, there are no surcharges or restrictions on packages delivered on Dec. 24.
If you’re planning to ship by FedEx Saver (a 3-day air service), you need to act by Dec. 19. The deadline for packages sent via ground service (FedEx Home Delivery) is Dec. 17. Check with Fedex to get specific rates and transit time.