Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to spend the holidays with loved ones, and with less than two weeks until Christmas, we’re approaching some deadlines for shipping packages to distant friends and family. Postal workers and delivery men and women will be working long hours until Dec. 24. By knowing some key dates and packaging gifts properly, many headaches can be avoided.
No matter the carrier, the earlier you can send a package, the cheaper it will be.
In order for packages to be delivered by Christmas Eve, the United States Postal Service recommends sending domestic, standard post packages — the cheapest option — by today. The final recommended date for Priority Mail Express — which will cost you — is Dec. 23.
FedEx recommends sending FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground packages by Thursday. The deadline for First Overnight, Priority Overnight and Standard Overnight shipping is Dec. 23. Have a major shipping emergency? FedEx SameDay service is available on Christmas Day. This can get very pricey, particularly when shipping heavy packages to far-flung locations.
There may be additional handling fees, too. Domestic ground shipments through UPS should be sent out by Tuesday. Next Day Air packages can be sent out as late as Dec. 23, while Express Critical shipments will be accepted as late as Dec. 24. There can be extra charges and surcharges with these last minute deliveries, as well.
The recommended dates for other shipping options, such as two- and three-day deliveries, vary. All of the deadlines are outlined on the respective services’ websites. Preparing your shipments correctly will also help ensure they’re delivered on time and in good condition. Provide a clear and firmly attached address and return address on each package. Wrapping packages in paper is discouraged, as that paper could rip in transit, obscuring important information and causing the package to be lost or delayed.
Don’t skimp on your package’s insulation and padding. Items packaged too tightly or loosely could break, so providing an extra inch of space around the gift is ideal. Cushion the gift on all four sides with foam peanuts, bubble wrap or balled up paper to secure it, including a little extra packing material between items if there are multiples in a box.
Though it will take a few extra minutes, price comparing could save a bundle in shipping costs. Is a flat-rate shipping box the cheapest route? Will the USPS Media Mail option ship Grandma’s new cookbook cheaper than another service? All of this information can be researched from home, thanks to the Internet and toll-free 800 numbers. Be sure to have all necessary zip codes and the weight of your package before sitting down to crunch numbers.
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