Holiday Shipping Calendar: The Days You Need to Know for 2021
November 17, 2021
With 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, holiday deadlines are going to creep up quickly — and that includes your holiday shipping calendar.
The secret to getting your packages delivered on time is knowing how mail and package carriers work and the various deadlines for each type of holiday shipping. If you think you may edge up to the last minute on shipping holiday cards and gifts, it’s good to know the cut-off dates for the 2021 holiday season.
The Inside Scoop on Holiday Carrier Deadlines
What do the terms “Priority Overnight,” “Next Day Air,” and “Priority Mail Express” have in common? They all mean that a package arrives the next day — but FedEx, UPS, and USPS call these services by different names.
That alone can seem confusing, but there’s another anomaly you should be aware of: Three-day doesn’t always mean “three days” during the super-busy season. For example, close to the holidays, you have to send something nearly a week before the big day to take advantage of UPS’s “3 Day Select®” shipping. While Christmas Eve is on a Friday this year, it’s wise to try to mail items sooner rather than later to account for any delays or unexpected additional shipping time.
Here is the 2021 UPS Holiday Schedule for the various types of service. Dates shown here are the UPS recommended last days to ship for December 24 delivery:
USPS Retail Ground™ (ground shipping for items larger than a letter): December 15
First-Class Mail® (1 to 3 business days): December 17
Priority Mail® (1 to 3 business days): December 18
Priority Mail Express® (overnight delivery guaranteed): December 23
Location Plays a Part
Do the specified days seem a little confusing? Where you’re shipping from and to can play a role in how many days it takes, but it’s helpful to plan for the longest-case scenario to be safe.
You should also check the carrier location closest to you to verify the availability of specific shipping services, such as overnight delivery, so you’re not caught in a last-minute bind. For example, FedEx allows senders to send mail overnight only to locations within their overnight service area.
The delivery time frame for shipping internationally is significantly longer, so keep in mind that you should plan ahead and include additional time. You can check the carriers’ websites for more information.
Have Your Gifts Shipped Directly
Another great option to save time during the holiday season is to shop online at a retailer like Office Depot and simply ship your gifts directly to the recipient. In this case, check the retailer’s holiday shipping guidelines to know when to place your online order for timely delivery. Check out this holiday gift guide for ideas to get you started!
Packing for Success
Getting your holiday gifts to the recipients in time is important, but it’s just as important to get them there in one piece. And since you don’t have the benefit of Santa’s elves preparing your packages, purchasing the right type of shipping supplies is helpful. You can check your holiday shopping list twice for these holiday package shipping necessities:
Plenty of packing peanuts or bubble wrap to fill any space left in the shipping box (The less room the item has to move, the less likely it is to get damaged during holiday shipping.)
When it comes to holiday shipping, preparation makes all the difference. It’s a good idea to plan ahead, try to anticipate any potential delays and try to drop off your package well before the prescribed deadlines.
Save yourself some stress this holiday season by getting your gifts packaged up and sent out by the deadline of your mail carrier of choice.
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer who specializes in small business, finance and real estate.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrants the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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