2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines & How To Avoid Delays with your Holiday Shipments

Posted in Shipping on Nov 05, 2018, tagged with holiday shipping

2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines & How To Avoid Delays with your Holiday Shipments

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and that means one thing—the holiday season is upon us. If you’re sending gifts to family and friends across the country this holiday season, it’s time to kick your holiday shopping into high gear and start thinking about how you’ll get your packages to their destinations safely and on time.

Smaller packages can be shipped via USPS, UPS, and FedEx. For unconventional gifts like furniture, family heirlooms, artwork, and other items that can’t be shipped using the post, UPS, or FedEx, your best option is often consolidated shipping like our Economy or White Glove services.

When you ship furniture and other large gifts via consolidated freight or white glove shipping, your shipment shares space on the truck with items going in the same direction. You only pay for the space your shipment occupies, which makes this an economical way to ship these items long distance. However, it can take a little longer for your goods to reach their destination, so the sooner your holiday packages hit the road, the better.

What shipping method should you use?

The best shipping method for your holiday packages will depend on exactly what you’re shipping:

USPS, UPS, or FedEx Consolidated freight & white glove shipping
  • Cards
  • Small parcels
  • Small boxes of gifts
  • Boxes that are too large for USPS, UPS, or FedEx
  • Furniture
  • Antiques
  • Artwork
  • Family heirlooms
  • Bulky or oddly-shaped items, like golf clubs
  • Car parts

2018 holiday shipping deadlines

Holiday shipping deadlines vary depending on your chosen service, as well as your shipment’s final destination. Here are the 2018 holiday shipping deadlines for USPS, UPS, and FedEx:


Deadline Service
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 APO (Air Post Office) / FPO (Fleet Post Office) / DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) (all ZIP Codes), USPS Retail Ground®
Tuesday, December 4, 2018 APO/FPO/DPO (ZIP Code 093 only) Priority Mail® and First-Class Mail®
Tuesday, December 11, 2018 APO/FPO/DPO (all other ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
Friday, December 14, 2018 USPS Retail Ground
Tuesday, December 18, 2017 APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express®
Thursday, December 20, 2018 First-Class Mail (including greeting cards)
First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
Priority Mail
Hawaii to mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
Alaska to mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
Saturday, December 22, 2018 Alaska to mainland Priority Mail Express
Hawaii to mainland Priority Mail Express
Priority Mail Express


Peak surcharges may apply for UPS shipments.

Deadline Service
Friday, December 14, 2018 Ground®
Tuesday, December 18, 2018 3 Day Select®
Thursday, December 20, 201


UPS 2nd Day Air® (for delivery on December 24)
Friday, December 21, 2018 UPS Next Day Air® (for delivery on December 24)


Deadline Service
Monday, December 10, 2018 SmartPost ® services
Friday, December 14, 2018 Ground®
Monday, December 17, 2018 Home Delivery®
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 Express Saver®
Thursday, December 20, 2018 2Day® services
Friday, December 21, 2018 Overnight® services

For items that can’t be transported using traditional parcel services like USPS, FedEx, or UPS

There are no fixed shipping deadlines for making sure your holiday shipments make it to their final destination on time. For these shipments, your best bet is to pack and send your cargo as soon as possible to ensure a timely delivery for the holidays:

  • Boxes typically take between 3-7 business days to reach their final destination.
  • Furniture can take more than 20 days to reach its final destination. If you’re sending furniture to loved ones this holiday season, the earlier you can get them packed and on the road, the better.

If you have questions sending your holiday packages via consolidated shipments, check out our holiday shipping guide.

How to avoid delays with your holiday shipment

Shipping delays are always frustrating, no matter what shipping method you choose or how early you send your holiday packages. Whether your holiday gifts are traveling with post, UPS, FedEx, or a company like TSI that handles specialty items, there are a few steps you can take to make sure everything is in ship-shape before your packages are picked up. Here are our tips for avoiding delays—and developing a reputation as the family Grinch:

1. Double check that you have the right address

Before your shipment hits the road, make sure it’s labeled with the correct address. Double check the ZIP code and make sure everything is spelled correctly.

If you are shipping multiple boxes or furniture that has been disassembled into separate pieces, label each piece individually in case they get separated in transit.

2. Ensure your label is legible

If you are handwriting your shipping labels, make sure all relevant information is clearly written, including the names of your recipients and their address. It can be tempting to add some festive cheer with a decorative font, but when it comes to shipping, readability should always take precedence over merrymaking.

If you are printing your shipping labels, make sure they are printed clearly and that you haven’t made any typos.

3. Confirm your bill of lading and other shipping documentation is correct

Make sure that your bill of lading is filled out properly, and that there are no typos or spelling errors on any of your shipping documentation. These minor errors can cause significant delays throughout the shipping process, and may even result in extra fees.

4. Leave more than enough time for your shipment to arrive

The easiest way to avoid shipping delays is to give your packages more than enough time to arrive, especially if you’re shipping holiday gifts that are not traditional boxes. With consolidated freight and white glove shipping services, your cargo shares space on the truck with packages traveling in the same direction—that’s what makes it such an affordable option. However, that means your gifts could sit in the terminal for a few extra days while the truck fills, so if you’re the type to leave your shopping till December 24, don’t delay—you might need to finalize your gifting plan much earlier than expected.

Shipping your gifts as soon as possible also ensures that your packages will get to their destination on time in the event of weather delay or mechanical breakdown—two things you can’t control.

HOLIDAY SHIPPING TIP: You may wish to purchase additional shipping insurance for especially valuable or sentimental furniture or gifts. Learn more about shipping insurance.


The best method for shipping your holiday packages to their destination depends on what you’re shipping. For cards, small parcels, and boxes, USPS, UPS, or FedEx are ideal. For larger boxes or anything too large or bulky to ship using these services, consolidated freight and specialty shipping companies are your best bet.

To avoid shipping delays, make sure:

  • You’ve used the correct address
  • Shipping and address labels are legible
  • Your bill of lading and other documentation are all properly filled out
  • You send your shipment early enough
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