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Holiday shipping deadlines: Postal dates for delivery by December 25

If you want to shop the best iPad deals, gaming laptop deals, smartphone deals, or other tech products as holiday gifts, shipping my be an issue if you don’t act quickly. Package delivery can be a major challenge in December. Here’s the scoop on holiday shipping deadlines for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), United Parcel Service (UPS), and Federal Express (FedEx). Whether we’re shopping for gifts for Christmas,  Kwanzaa, or Hannukah, holiday shipping deadlines are a greater concern during December than any other time of the year. For 2022, Hannukah is from Sunday, December 18 to Monday, December 26, Kwanzaa starts Monday, December 26 and ends Sunday, January 1, and Christmas is on December 25.

Even if you’re not sending gifts, but relying on major shipping services to deliver packages, or letters, timely December delivery can be a major challenge — and it only gets worse as the month progresses. The three major U.S. shipping services, in order of the number of packages they deliver historically, are the USPS, UPS, and FedEx. We found the latest information for you on holiday shipping deadlines for each of the primary shippers. We based the deadlines below for shipping arrival by 25, which holds for both Christmas and Kwanzaa. Hanukkah shipments should be sent seven days earlier.

USPS holiday shipping deadlines

A United States Postal Service USPS truck driving on a tree-lined street.

The USPS recommends mailing and shipping holiday cards and gifts as early as possible for Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. You can save money by shipping early, but the type of service and the destination in the U.S. effect the holiday shipping deadlines.

For the best bargains, plan to ship early. The USPS retail ground service deadline for packages to arrive by December 25 is December 17 for the 48 contiguous states and December 2 for Alaska. Ground delivery isn’t available for Hawaii because all mail gets to the islands by air.

The shipping deadline for USPS First-Class Mail is December 17 for all 50 states. December 17 is also the cut-off for Alaska and Hawaii, but you can ship to mainland state addresses until December 19. The Priority Mail Express shipping deadline this year is December 23 for the lower 48 but December 21 for Alaska and Hawaii.

UPS holiday shipping deadlines

A women prepares boxes for UPS shipment.

The 2022 holiday shipping deadlines for UPS are December 20 for UPS 3 Day Select, December 21 for UPS 2nd Day Air, and December 22 for Next Day Air deliveries by December 24. UPS doesn’t pick up or deliver on December 25. UPS Ground shipping is available during the holiday season, but you’ll need to use the UPS online calculator to estimate delivery dates based on locations and pickup times. We suggest you don’t rely on UPS ground shipping unless you build in at least a week’s buffer.

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines

FedEx Van delivering shipments on a city street.
Erik Leenaars / Flickr

The FedEx holiday package deadline chart has shipping dates from Thursday, December 8 to Friday, December 23. If you want to get the cheapest rate but still have confidence your package will arrive before Christmas, ship by December 8 for either Ground Economy or FedEx Freight Economy service. Thursday, December 14 is the cutoff date for all FedEx ground deliveries other then Ground Economy, which includes Ground Contiguous US, Ground Alaska and Hawaii, Home Delivery Contiguous US, and Home Delivery Alaska and Hawaii. December 14 is also the holiday shipping deadline for FedEx Freight Priority and FedEx Freight Direct shipments.

People who hold off until the last minute can still ship for delivery before  December 25. Ship by Tuesday, December 20 for FedEx Express Saver and FedEx 3Day Freight service. You can wait until Wednesday, December 21, to use FedEx 2Day , 2Day AM, and FedEx 2Day Freight shipping. Holding off until Thursday, December 22 still works for FedEx 1Day Freight service and for First Overnight (FO), Priority Overnight (PO), or Saturday Overnight (SO) deliveries. If you want to really push it out to the last day, your only choice is FedEx SameDay service.

Online retailer direct holiday shipping deadlines

The holiday shipping deadlines above apply if you’re sending packages with the major shipping services, but when you shop online you can have the packages shipped directly to your intended recipient. Right now retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target aren’t publicizing their holiday shipping deadlines because it’s not in their best interest to give shoppers a reason to delay shopping. Most merchant websites list delivery estimates for individual products.

As we get closer to December 25, merchants will announce their cut-off dates for holiday delivery so shoppers won’t assume they’re too late. Sending unwrapped products as gifts doesn’t appeal to many buyers, so retailers may offer gift-wrapping and enclosed personal messages as optional services.

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
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