holiday shopping

The Longer You Wait to Mail Christmas Gifts, the More It Will Cost

NBC Universal, Inc.

At Postal Annex in Bedford, Texas, things are getting busy.

"This is our busiest time of year,” owner Brian Pulliam said. “This is our make-or-break time."

Pulliam and his family are busy doing their part to make sure cherished Christmas gifts make it to their destination on time.

"I wanted to get it mailed early because there is nothing worse than to get your presents after Christmas," customer Sheila Kudray said.

These customers had the right idea. FedEx, USPS and UPS all have different shipping deadlines for different methods. Wednesday was the deadline for FedEx ground. The USPS is on the Dec. 17.

"You've got a couple of days before it starts to get expensive,” Pulliam said. “So, my best advice to you is get your stuff in before the 16th if at all possible and get it on the road."

The longer you procrastinate, the more you'll have to pay to get it there by Christmas.

"Next thing you know you are having to use an overnight product and don't get me wrong I'm a huge fan of that but for your benefit, I suggest strongly coming in before it gets to that," Pulliam said.

Along with timing, Pulliam recommends using smaller packages that are cheaper. But he said to protect what's inside.

"Try to keep your whatever it is you are shipping two inches away from the side of the box,” Pulliam said. “Top, bottom, sides. That gives enough padding so that when it gets shifted around and moved through the shipping process whatever is in there doesn't get broken."

All important details, because no one wants a broken or late Christmas gift.

"It's always important,” Ross said. “People are looking for things, aren't they? They say they're not expecting anything but they always do."

See below for more delivery dates by carrier:

US Postal Service*

  • Dec. 17 — USPS retail ground service
  • Dec. 17 — First-class mail service (including greeting cards)
  • Dec. 17 — First-class packages
  • Dec. 19 — Priority Mail 
  • Dec. 22 — Priority Mail Express

*International and military deadlines are earlier; see the USPS website here, for a complete list.


  • December 12: Ground & freight economy
  • December 14: Ground & home delivery
  • December 20: Express Saver
  • December 21: 2Day & 2Day-AM
  • December 22: Overnight services
  • December 23: Same-day services

For more options including international dates, see the full FedEx list here.


  • December 20: 3-Day Select
  • December 21: 2nd day air services
  • December 22: Next-day air services
  • For ground shipping, UPS recommends checking the website for a quote.

For the full chart of UPS options, including international shipping, click here.

Dates noted are for domestic service only. Service hours may vary for Alaska and Hawaii in all cases. 

Visit each site for international deadlines and service hours during the holidays.

If you are shipping your gifts, you need to get them in the mail in the next couple of days or it could cost you. NBC 5’s Vince Sims has more.
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