Holiday Mail Tips & Shipping Cut-Off Dates

The holiday season often waltzes in at breakneck speed, setting shoppers in a panic to get cards and gifts mailed in time. Instead of facing that jolt of last minute energy, get out your calendar and start strategizing early.

Quick Tips for Saving Money on Mailing:

  • Use old Amazon boxes, instead of purchasing boxes at the carrier location
  • Send cards and packages early to avoid mid-month holiday rush prices
  • Reduce package weight or choose flat rate options
  • Avoid having to drive and ship from home using carriers with free pick-ups
  • Mail before Dec. 23rd to avoid overnight services

Quick Christmas Card Time Saving Tips:

  • Organize list of addresses early
  • Check old addresses and update to avoid having to re-send items
  • Make envelopes festive fast with Christmas address stamps
  • Mail cards by Dec. 11th at the latest

Shipping cut-off dates range from Dec. 9th to Dec. 23rd. depending on the carrier and service you use. In most cases the longer you put off sending out your packages, the more you will pay for items to arrive on time. So, it’s good to know your limitations early and avoid the risk of your packages not making it by Christmas morning.

Once you know when you need to have mail sent, then you clearly see how much time is available to make sure cards and gifts are purchased, packaged and ready to go.

Planning Holiday Cards

Holiday cards are typically mailed 2 to 3 weeks before Christmas day to give plenty of time for recipients to open and display cards. For December 2021 that will require mailing cards by the 4th or 11th, at the latest.

To have letters and cards ready, you may want to schedule family photo sessions early, so you don’t end up spending hours scrolling through your phone for a recent picture with everyone smiling. If you plan to send a letter of family updates, start drafting early. Next, gather a list of everyone who you plan to send your cards to and make sure addresses are all up to date.

Finally, expedite your Christmas card prep by using custom address stamps. Choose from festive holiday return address styles as well as classic monogram designs. For those who order stock cards but plan to add personalized messages, you will want even more time. You don’t want to burn out trying to write heartfelt messages at 2 a.m. on Dec. 10th to get your cards mailed the next day.

Comparing Carrier Dates & Service Costs

Unless you are mailing items through a website, direct store or online marketplace, then you will most likely be choosing from the top 3 shipping carriers: USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

People may choose carriers based on factors such as tracking policies, cost, past experiences, and distance from residence. For those who prefer to not leave the house, you can schedule at home package pick-ups with the USPS, the UPS or FedExThe USPS and UPS pick up services are available at no extra cost.

Service Date Starting Prices
First-Class Mail Service Dec. 17 From $0.58
Priority Mail Service Dec. 18 From $7.95
Priority Mail Express Service Dec. 23 From $26.60
USPS Retail Ground Dec. 15 From $7.95
Service Date Starting Prices
FedEx SmartPost Dec. 9 From $7.85
FedEx Ground Dec. 16 From $7.85
Home Delivery Dec. 16 From $7.85
Express Saver Dec. 19 From $16.07
2Day Services Dec. 20 From $18.22
Overnight Services Dec. 23 From $27.18
Service Date Starting Prices
Ground Dec. 13 From $7.85
3 Day Select Dec. 21 From $13.75
2nd Day Air Services Dec. 20 From $18.30
Next Day Air Services Dec. 23 From $24.10


These prices apply to shipping in the contiguous US. The prices listed here (except for the USPS First-Class Mail Service) start at 1-pound weight and increase from there.

Understanding Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Different services provide estimated delivery dates. Each type of service may include certain guarantees and require that specific criteria be met to qualify for starting prices. Prices are also dependent on the weight, size, type of item being shipped, location of mailing, destination, and other conditions. Different zones, extra surcharges and other factors may increase prices.

Some services include a money-back guarantee if delivery by date is not met. You can often save additional holiday cash by using the boxes and other packing supplies you have at home rather than buying ones when you go to mail items.

The Postal Service reports that Dec. 17-23 is the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week. Try to send out cards and gifts ahead of time as the later you send your holiday goods, the less factors you can control to ensure items are delivered on time.

If you wait too long then your mail might part of the holiday flood of packages that don’t quite make it on time. And, what is possibly worse than that, the later you take your packages to a carrier, the longer you will be waiting line.





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