Here's Every Important Deadline for Shipping Holiday Gifts This Year
If you want to send or receive a gift by Christmas, here are the dates you'll need to know for FedEx, UPS, and the United States Postal Service.
There's nothing worse than baking a batch of holiday treats and taking the time to properly wrap them to ship to loved ones… only to have them arrive on December 26 because you didn't ship them "in time."
Whether you're planning to whip up a fresh miso-caramel apple pie or an entire month's worth of freshly made pumpkin spice fudge, knowing when to ship your holiday gift is crucial. Consumer Reports spoke with each of the leading mail services in the United States—the US Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS—and found each date that you'll need to ship your package by in order for it to make it to its destination before Christmas.
Each of these deadlines also apply to gifts you purchase online, too—so if you don't have time to bake this year, and feel like sending one of our top kitchen gifts of 2018 to friends and family, keep these dates in mind.
Hanukkah officially kicks off on Sunday, Dec. 2, which means you should be heading to the post office today if you want guaranteed delivery by First Class mail service from the USPS.
Our best gifts of 2018:
And you'll also be surprised to hear that gifts need to be shipped weeks before Christmas Eve if you plan on using the cheapest service available—Consumer Reports says that postal services are making guarantee dates earlier this year in anticipation of retailers who will use services like free two-day shipping (especially during upcoming events like Free Shipping Day). With Christmas being on Tuesday this year, deadlines are earlier, in order to accommodate for the preceding weekend.
1) United States Postal Service
If you're shipping goodies internationally, you'll need to confirm rates and delivery services in person at your local post office. But USPS has made their deadlines clear on their Holiday Shipping Deadlines FAQ page, available here. Note that deadlines are different for items being shipped to Hawaii and Alaska.
If you're shipping a package via standard "retail" ground service, you'll need to mail it by December 14—but First Class and Priority Mail packages can be mailed on December 20 for on-time delivery anywhere within the U.S. Express packages must be sent on December 22 to make it to their destination by Christmas Eve.
In the United States, the cheapest way to send an item is via FedEx SmartPost—and if you choose this route, you'll have to get your gift in the mail by December 10. FedEx Ground and Home Delivery services are more expensive, but you can send items via this method up until December 17, just about a week before Christmas. These deadlines also apply to orders made through independent retailers online who opt to use FedEx as their official carrier.
According to FedEx's FAQ page, the last day you can use rush overnight services to get your gift out the door is actually Friday, December 21 (not Monday). There are a few other services with different delivery options, as well as different order deadlines for items headed to international destinations, available on FedEx's website.
All of your holiday items shipped through UPS should be made a full week before the holiday—December 18 and 19 are the deadlines for UPS 3-Day select and UPS 2nd Day Air packages.
If you're looking to rush something through UPS for a guaranteed on-time arrival, you'll need to ship via UPS Next Day Air on Friday, December 21. These deadlines are for the United States only.
If you're trying to figure out the cheapest way to deliver your gift, UPS has a handy time and cost calculator available here, which can also walk you through different ways of getting your gift delivered on time.