Every year, holiday shipping should be getting easier with upgrades in technology, convenient shipping options and packing solutions. However, getting your items to their destination ahead of the holiday takes a little extra planning and adhering to some reasonable shipping deadlines for many of the letter and parcel carriers.
Delivery in time for the holidays depends, not only on getting your packages and Christmas cards to the shipping agent on time, but on the outer labeling and condition of the packed box.
Here are a few tips to packaging and sending a box or letter safely:
• Choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents inside. Many boxes are rated for weight limits also. Choose a box that can handle the weight of the contents during transit.
• Place cushioning around your items. Close and gently shake the box to see whether there is enough padding. Add more newspaper, packing foam, or plastic cushioning material if you hear things moving around.
• Whenever possible, use a new box. If you are reusing a box for shipping, make sure that old labels and markings are completely blackened out or removed.
• Tape your box shut and reinforce the seams with 2-inch wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape or paper tape. Do not use cord, string or twine because it gets caught in mail processing equipment.
• If you are shipping a package with any of its lengths longer than 100 inches or exceeding 70 pounds, check with the intended carrier for specific instructions and packing directions.
• Using a complete and correct address is critical for efficient delivery. When shipping via United States Postal Service (USPS), always use the five digit zip code, plus four digit routing, when possible. For example 11040-5409.
• Many of the local carriers provide appropriate shipping boxes free of charge. Check the individual websites for ordering instructions for additional empty boxes suitable for packing and mailing.
Here are the suggested mailing dates for three of the major services. Mail early and mail often. These are approximations; actual delivery dates should be confirmed with your selected carrier.
Dates to keep in mind for USPS mailings:
- Dec. 15—USPS Retail Ground
- Dec. 15—Last day for most international express service shipping for Christmas arrival
- Dec. 16—Last day to ship express service to most military for Christmas arrival
- Dec. 20—Last day to send First-Class Mail for Christmas arrival
- Dec. 21—Last day to send Priority Mail for Christmas arrival
- Dec. 23—Last day to send Priority Mail Express for Christmas arrivalMail will be delivered as usual on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.
- Regular mail will not be delivered Dec. 25 or Dec. 26. All post office locations will be open and regular mail delivery will resume on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
Dates to keep in mind for United Parcel Service (UPS) mailings:
Monday, Dec. 19
• Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship via UPS 3 Day Select.
Tuesday, Dec. 20
• Normal pickup and delivery service.
Wednesday, Dec. 21
• Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship all UPS 2nd Day Air.
Thursday, Dec. 22
• Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship all UPS Next Day Air and UPS 2nd Day Air.
Friday, Dec. 23
• Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship all UPS Next Day Air packages.
Saturday, Dec. 24
• Delivery of UPS Worldwide Express, UPS Next Day Air and UPS 2nd Day Air packages.
• Pickup service available for UPS Air and international Air packages* for regular Saturday pickup customers. UPS On-Call Pickup service is available to all customers for UPS Air and international Air packages.
Sunday, Dec. 25, and Monday, Dec. 26
• No UPS pickup or delivery service.
Dates to keep in mind for Federal Express (FedEx) mailings:
Check the operating hours for your area at Find Locations. To confirm whether a service area is affected due to weather or other conditions, go to the News area on the FedEx home page or call 800-463-3339.
If you need to ship on Christmas Day or any other day of the year, FedEx provides SameDay service. It’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 800-399-5999 to schedule a pickup.
• The following FedEx Express services will deliver on Saturday, Dec. 24—FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, and FedEx 2Day. A $16 Saturday delivery fee will apply per package. For residential shipments using these services, delivery time will be extended to 8 p.m. These shipments must be tendered by Friday, Dec. 23, in order to receive Saturday delivery.
• FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will not deliver on Saturday, Dec. 24. Check out FedEx Ground Service Maps to determine the day-definite transit time of your FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery shipments.
• With FedEx SameDay service and other FedEx expedited services, you can ship on Christmas Day or any other day of the year. FedEx SameDay is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for your most urgent shipments.