2019 Holiday Shipping Deadlines & How To Ship Packages During the Holiday Season

Posted in Shipping on Nov 18, 2019, tagged with holiday shipping

2019 Holiday Shipping Deadlines & How To Ship Packages During the Holiday Season

The winter holidays are right around the corner and shipping deadlines are looming. You may not feel ready for it, but one way or another, it’s time to finish (or start!) your holiday shopping and get those parcels shipped. Good news—there are a variety of methods you can use to ensure these gifts and goodies arrive on time.

What shipping method should you use?

Which method you should use depends on the item(s) you are shipping, the size and weight, and how quickly you need it to arrive. You will typically have two options: parcel shipping services like USPS, UPS, or FedEx, or consolidated freight and white glove shipping from a freight shipping specialist.

USPS, UPS, or FedEx is ideal for: Consolidated freight & white glove shipping is ideal for: White glove shipping is ideal for:
Small parcels
Small boxes of gifts
Boxes that are too large for USPS, UPS, or FedEx
Car parts
Family heirlooms
Bulky or oddly-shaped items, like golf clubs

HOLIDAY HINT: If you are shipping furniture, heirlooms, large pieces of art, or other oversized gift items using a white glove shipping solution, prepare them for shipment and organize their pickup as soon as possible.

The very thing that makes this shipping method so cost effective—sharing space on a truck with other items going in the same direction—also means that it will take longer than other traditional shipping methods while the truck waits to be filled and then delivered to multiple destinations.

TSI TIP: If you’re shipping boxes of gifts to loved ones, check out our new flat rate box shipping service. With this service, you tell us how many boxes you’ll need to ship and select a level of service that works for you. We’ll deliver the boxes right to your door, typically within 4 business days of your order and payment. Pack your boxes, give us a call, and we’ll come pick them up. Learn more about our box-and-ship solutions. This is a great way to consolidate presents for grandkids, cousins, friends, etc. and get them all sent out on time for your holiday celebrations!

Avoiding delays

There is nothing worse than getting your packages ready and shipped ahead of the deadline, only to have them unexpectedly held up or even returned. Thankfully, some of these delays are easy to avoid if you take a few simple precautions:

  1. Confirm the address - Before your shipment is picked up by its carrier, triple check the ZIP code and make sure everything is spelled and numbered correctly. Incorrectly written ZIP codes have thwarted more than their fair share of deliveries!

HOLIDAY HINT: If you are shipping multiple boxes or pieces of disassembled furniture, label each piece with its destination and delivery contact phone number just in case they unexpectedly get separated in transit.

  1. Write legibly - If you are hand writing your shipping labels, make sure all relevant information is clearly written, including the names of your recipients and their full address. Take care to make your 1s and 7s, 3s and 5s, and 4s and 9s easy to identify—save decorative fonts and flourishes for the inside of your parcels.
  2. Confirm shipping documentation is correct - Make sure that your bill of lading is correctly filled out, and that there are no typos or spelling errors on any of your shipping documentation. While they may seem like minor mistakes, even small errors like these can cause significant delays, or even result in additional fees.
  3. Ship early - The simplest method for ensuring your items arrive on time is to ship them early with a “Do not open until” note included to dissuade impatient gift-getters. When it comes to shipping gifts, last-minute shoppers should try to plan out their shipments well in advance in order to have them arrive on time—save the desperate Christmas Eve trip to the mall for local loved ones instead.

HOLIDAY HINT: Sending valuable items during one of the busiest times of the year for the shipping industry is not without its risks. Purchasing additional shipping insurance for especially valuable or sentimental furniture or gifts in the event that they are lost or damaged may be a wise course of action. Learn more about shipping insurance.

Sticking to shipping deadlines

With so much to buy, organize, decorate, plan, and pack, it can be difficult to ensure your gifts arrive at their intended destinations on time—especially when you don’t know the shipping deadlines. Make sure your family and friends get the gifts and goodies intended for them by December 24 by shipping smaller packages out before these dates:


Service Shipping Cutoff Date Shipping Cutoff Date for Alaska Shipping Cutoff Date for Hawaii
Retail Ground™ Saturday, December 14 N/A N/A
First Class Mail® Friday, December 20 Wednesday, December 18 Thursday, December 19
Priority Mail® Saturday, December 21 Thursday, December 19 Thursday, December 19
Monday, December 23 Thursday, December 19 Saturday, December 21 Saturday, December 21

Source: USPS


Service Shipping Cutoff Date
FedEx SmartPost® Monday, December 9
FedEx Ground® Monday, December 16
Home Delivery® Monday, December 16
Express Saver® Thursday, December 19
FedEx 2Day® Friday, December 20
FedEx Overnight® Services Monday, December 23
FedEx SameDay® Services Wednesday, December 25

Source: FedEx


Service Shipping Cutoff Date
Ground® Friday, December 13
3 Day Select® Thursday, December 19
2nd Day Air® Services Friday, December 20
Next Day Air® Services Monday, December 23

Source: UPS

What about consolidated freight or white glove shipping?

If you are shipping large boxes, furniture, or other household items using consolidated freight or white glove shipping, we recommend shipping them as soon as possible. It’s hard to guarantee shipping timelines and arrival dates when shipping items using these methods, so the earlier you can get them on the road, the better your chances of having them arrive on time for the holidays.

Typically, Economy shipments sent via freight trucks can pick up within 1-3 business days, with delivery within 3-5 business days from pick up. White Glove shipments take longer—up to 15 business days for pick up and up to 20 business days after that for delivery.

When you call a reputable provider, be sure to ask lots of questions about the timing of your pickup and delivery. Certain locations and routes are much shorter than these estimates, whereas more remote and less-traveled areas may take a bit longer.


A little preparation and an abundance of precaution will help ensure your holiday parcels and presents arrive at their destination on time. Remember:

  • For cards, small parcels, and boxes, consider USPS, UPS, or FedEx.
  • For larger, bulkier items or pieces that are valuable or fragile to ship using these services, opt for consolidated freight and specialty shipping companies.

And to save yourself avoidable shipping delays, make sure:

  • The address is correct
  • Shipping and address labels are legible and clear
  • The bill of lading and other documentation are all correctly and fully filled out
  • You send your shipment early enough

The easy way to ship holiday gifts

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