2021 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Mike Gunderson
2021 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. You have plenty of time to send cards and packages so that they arrive by any winter holiday you celebrate, right? Well, maybe not. Diwali starts Nov. 4, the first night of Hanukkah is Nov. 28 and shipping cutoffs for Dec. 25 may come sooner than you think (we have the deadlines below).

To give you the best odds of having your cards and packages arrive on time this year, the US Postal Service, UPS and FedEx have each circled the dates you need to hit — specifically to arrive in time for Christmas and for Kwanzaa, which begins Dec. 26. (You’ll want to add in buffer time for arrival dates before the end of December).

Here are the 2021 Holiday shipping schedules for the big-three package delivery services.

Special thanks to Clifford Colby and the c|net team for this awesome summary!


Saying it’s trying to get its house in order, the US Postal Service is lengthening delivery times and temporarily boosting the cost of shipping parcels during the holidays. Here are the dates the post office recommends you circle on your calendar if you want your packages to arrive by Christmas this year.

Domestic serviceDate (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)Date for AlaskaDate for Hawaii
USPS Retail GroundDec. 15Dec. 2N/A
First-Class MailDec. 17Dec. 18Dec. 17
Priority MailDec. 18Dec. 18Dec. 17
Priority Mail ExpressDec. 23Dec. 21Dec. 21

With the pandemic, UPS has suspended its guarantee to deliver most packages on time excluding some next-day air and worldwide services. Here are UPS’ recommended dates for Christmas 2021.

Domestic serviceShip date
GroundCheck the UPS website for deadlines
3-Day SelectDec. 21
2nd Day AirDec. 22
Next Day AirDec. 23

If you’re a last-minute shipper, FedEx lets you ship on Dec. 24 for a Dec. 25 delivery, but it won’t be cheap. If you want a less costly option, FedEx’s ground delivery deadline is Dec. 15. Here are the dates FedEx recommends you ship by to have your package arrive by Dec. 25 in the US.

Domestic serviceShip date
GroundDec. 15
3Day Friday, Express SaverDec. 21
2Day Freight, 2DayDec. 22
1Day Freight, Extra HoursDec. 23
Same DayDec. 24
Mike Gunderson

Mike is the founder and president of Gundir, the award-winning direct marketing agency. Since 2003, Gundir has helped businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.

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