The holiday shopping season is in full swing but it won't be long before time runs out on deadlines for mailing Christmas packages. Shippers, as well as retailers, have announced Christmas 2023 cutoff dates for getting gifts to their destinations on time.
With just 20 days left until Christmas, which falls on a Monday this year, windows for receiving and mailing goods without having to pay a premium for expedited delivery are narrowing.
"Shipping costs go up every year and fees and surcharges get more expensive as you get closer to the deadlines," said Krish Iyer, a vice president at e-commerce shipping solutions platform ShipStation.
He also urged consumers to be mindful of the time of day they hand over packages to shippers. Late afternoon and evening visits to UPS and FedEx could mean the package won't go out until the following day.
"Depending on time of day and when the pickup happens, you could wait a whole new day. Most consumers think they've beat the buzzer, but they may not have for that reason," he added.
Below, find out when is the last day to mail Christmas packages through the U.S. Postal Service, the last day to mail packages via UPS and FedEx, and the last day to order for Christmas delivery at major retailers.
USPS Christmas deadline
The United States Postal Service has announced its cutoff dates for deliveries in time for Christmas.
- December 16 is the cutoff for 5-day shipping using USPS Ground Advantage and First-Class Mail services.
- If you pay for 4-day-shipping, you have until December 18 to mail parcels and have them arrive under the tree by Christmas.
- Consumers have until December 21 if they use the USPS's Priority Mail Express 1-day shipping option.
Keep in mind, the USPS won't be delivering regular mail on Christmas Day. And because Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, the last scheduled day for regular USPS delivery is Saturday, December 23.
For Priority Mail Express mail, if a holiday premium is paid, the last scheduled delivery day is Sunday, December 24.
Postage costs vary depending on the type of parcel you are mailing and its destination.
FedEx Christmas deadline
With FedEx, the deadline for mailing Christmas packages also varies depending on the service.
- The last day to ship a package using FedEx Ground Economy services is December 13.
- For FedEx Ground 5-day shipping, it's December 15.
- For 1-day shipping, it's December 21 — the Thursday before the holiday.
FedEx also offers express services that buy last-minute gift-givers more time.
- The last day to ship packages so that they arrive on or before Sunday, December 24 is Friday, December 22, via FedEx SameDay delivery.
All FedEx services, except for FedEx Custom Critical, are closed on Christmas Day.
UPS Christmas deadline
UPS, which is also closed on Christmas, recommends the following deadlines for package deliveries in time for the big holiday.
- Ship gifts by December 19 using UPS's 3-day delivery option, called UPS 3 Day Select, so they'll arrive on December 23.
- Ship by December 21 under UPS Next Day Air services.
- Customers have until December 22 with the shipper's Saturday delivery options.
Some major retailers have announced their own purchase deadlines for timely holiday delivery.
- Bookseller Barnes and Noble says December 16 is the last day for Christmas delivery with its standard shipping option. Expedited shipping lets shoppers purchase gifts online until December19. Picking up items in stores is also an option.
- Order from outdoor retailer REI by 9 a.m. PT on December 19 for Christmas delivery via standard shipping. Pick up goods in-store for faster retrieval.
Where you might want to order even earlier
- Given that it personalizes items, custom card and giftmaker Shutterfly has earlier shipping cutoff dates. If selecting basic economy shipping, Shutterfly's last day to order for Christmas is December 14, to allow for 6-10 days for production and delivery. Visit the site for more details.
- Similarly, many sellers on Etsy, a marketplace where independent makers sell handcrafted goods, make gifts that take time to fabricate and require more lead time to guarantee delivery by Christmas.
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