If you want all your holiday gifts to arrive on time this year, you’d better finish your gift shopping soon.
For Christmas gift-givers, don’t be fooled into thinking that Dec. 25 means you have a big cushion. Most major retailers—and package shippers—anticipate that online shopping will be off the charts this year and that the volume will place a tremendous strain on package delivery systems this holiday season.
To ensure that your holiday gifts arrive on time, check out the year-end gift-shipping deadline information below for FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service.
And don’t forget about Free Shipping Day. Hundreds of online merchants will participate on Dec. 14, offering items that will arrive by Christmas Eve.
Also, if you are sending packages, you will want to be aware of how much it will cost to send out a package around the busy holidays. To calculate how much your package will cost to send, visit the USPS Postage Price Calculator website here.
For shipping within the U.S.:
- Dec. 10: Last day to ship via FedEx SmartPost.
- Dec. 17: Last day to ship via FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery .
- Dec. 19: Last day to ship via FedEx Express Saver.
- Dec. 20: Last day to ship via FedEx 2Day and FedEx 2Day A.M.
- Dec. 21: Last day to ship via FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, and FedEx First Overnight.
- Dec. 25: Last day to ship via FedEx SameDay City Direct, FedEx SameDay City Priority, and FedEx SameDay.
Shipping deadlines vary for packages headed to Puerto Rico and Canada, Mexico, and other international destinations. See the 2018 Last Days to Ship page for more information.
For shipping within the U.S.:
- Dec. 18: Last day to ship UPS 3 Day Select for delivery Monday, Dec. 24.
- Dec. 20: Last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air packages for delivery Monday, Dec. 24.
- Dec. 21: Last day to ship UPS Next Day Air for delivery Monday, Dec. 24. Note: These packages must be processed and labeled for Saturday Delivery, which isn’t available to all ZIP codes.
In addition to the Saturday Delivery restrictions noted above, UPS also warns that some packages and services may require an additional day of transit time. For a more complete assessment of how long it will take for your gift to arrive, check UPS’ online shipping time and cost calculator.
For international shipping deadlines and other holiday-related information, such as pickup and delivery schedules, see the Holiday Shipping page on the UPS website.
U.S. Postal Service
For mail and package shipping within the continental U.S.:
- Dec. 14: Last day to send packages Retail Ground.
- Dec. 20: Last day to send packages First Class Mail.
- Dec. 20 Last day to send packages Priority Mail.
- Dec. 22: Last day to send packages Priority Mail Express.
For mail and package shipping to Alaska & Hawaii:
- Dec. 20: Last day to send packages via First Class Mail and Priority Mail services.
- Dec. 22: Last day to send packages via Priority Mail Express.
Deadlines for shipping packages internationally, including to overseas military bases, vary based on the destination and type of delivery service.
For more information, visit the holiday shipping deadlines section of U.S. Postal Service website.
Amazon has published its Holiday Delivery Calendar, which notes the following suggested deadlines for ordering items to arrive by Christmas:
- Dec. 14: Last day to order for free standard shipping (note: There’s no minimum purchase to qualify for this limited time Amazon promotion).
- Dec. 17: Last day to order for standard shipping (free for Amazon Primemembers on qualifying orders).
- Dec. 22: Last day to order for two-day shipping (free for Prime members).
- Dec. 23: Last day to order for one-day shipping.
- Dec. 24: Last day to order for same-day delivery, available in certain metro areas, as well as “ultrafast delivery” with Amazon Prime Now in select cities.
The above deadlines apply only for shipping within the contiguous U.S. states, and cutoff times vary by item.
Check Amazon’s help page, Shipping Rates & Times, for more information.
You’ll find similar ordering and holiday gift-shipping deadline information for most major retailers online. Some examples:
Best Buy’s Holiday order deadlines is a dynamically updated page on BestBuy.com, showing key ordering dates for Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa.
As of Dec. 7, for example, the page says it’s too late have an online order shipped to military bases in time for Christmas Eve delivery. But there’s no mention—for now—of order deadlines for less exotic shipping addresses.
JCPenney hasn’t yet determined its online shopping deadlines for holiday shipping. But based on its general shipping information page online:
- Standard Delivery ($9, free on orders $25 and above) takes three to five business days.
- Premium Delivery ($5 to $10, depending on order total) takes three business days.
- Express Delivery ($15 to $35) takes two business days.
- Expedited Delivery ($25 to $45) takes one business day.
Online orders shipped to and picked up from your local JCPenney store takes four to seven business days and is free for orders of $25 or more.
Kmart and Sears
Although 142 Kmart and Sears stores will close as part of Sears’ recent bankruptcy filing, both Kmart’s and Sears’ websites are still accepting and fulfilling online orders. Holiday-specific shipping deadlines were not available at either site, but according to the Shipping Methods help pages at Sears.comand Kmart.com:
- Economy Shipping takes five to seven business days.
- Standard Shipping takes three to five business days.
- Expedited Shipping takes two business days.
- Premium Shipping takes one business day.
- Shipping of “oversized” items may “arrive within 8-10 days from the order date.”
- Both sites will do their “best to get your orders [shipped] as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Its website offers a slew of shipping and delivery options—including free two-day shipping on “hundreds of thousands of items” as well as same-day delivery (membership is required, but Target offers a free two-week trial).
Delivery of online orders to a Target store for pickup is also an option.
We’ll update this information as retailers firm up their holiday plans, so bookmark this article and check back often.