With a whopping six fewer shopping days in 2019 than 2018, holiday deadlines are going to creep up on you faster than ever—and that includes your holiday shipping calendar.
The secret to making sure all your packages arrive on time is knowing how mail and package carriers work and the various deadlines for each type of holiday shipping. If you’re thinking you might be edging up to the last minute on shipping holiday cards and gifts, it’s important to know the cut-off dates for the 2019 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 is arriving 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’ “3 Day Select Shipping.” With December 25 falling smack in the middle of the week on a Wednesday, you have to think ahead a bit given that we are dealing with “business days.”
Here is UPS’ official recommended last-chance dates for the various types of service:
UPS Ground: Dec. 13
UPS 3 Day Select: Dec. 19
UPS 2nd Day Air: Dec. 20
UPS Next Day Air: Dec. 23
Refer to their complete “recommended” delivery schedule so you’re not caught in a bind. FedEx has a whopping 12 shipping options to and from some locations.
Finally, the dates the United States Postal Service (USPS) recommends as the final option for getting a package to your loved one on time in the contiguous United States:First-Class Mail Service (1 to 3 business days) Dec. 20
Priority Mail Service (1 to 3 business days) Dec. 21
Priority Mail Express Service (overnight delivery guaranteed) Dec. 23
USPS Retail Ground (ground shipping for items larger than a letter) Dec. 14
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 best to plan for the longest-case scenario, to be safe.
You’ll also want to 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. FedEx, for example, allows senders to send mail overnight only to locations within their overnight service area.
If you’re really cutting it close, check the pickup time at the mail carrier location. Dropping your mail off before that time can save you money on shipping or get your mail to the recipient a day sooner.
And if you plan to ship anything internationally, send it well in advance, as the delivery time frame is significantly longer. You can check the carriers’ websites for more information.
Packing For Success
Getting your holiday gifts to the recipients by Christmas 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, your best bet is to purchase the right type of shipping supplies. Check your holiday shopping list twice for these holiday package shipping necessities:
A sturdy shipping box that can withstand the journey
High-quality packaging tape
A permanent marker for addressing the box
Festive gift wrap
Plenty of packing peanuts or bubble wrap to fill the box 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. Save yourself money and 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
Source: Office Depot.com Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer who specializes in small business, finance and real estate.