The 411 on Shipping Packages During The Holidays

Posted by Marty Boyer on

Send your packages successfully with this collection of tips and tricks to make sure your packages arrive safely and on time.


Holiday Shipping – Key Points

  • The earlier you can ship during the holiday season, the better chances for your package to arrive on time.
  • Keep aware of potential hindrances to your package’s delivery such as rising rates and various staffing issues
  • Be sure to consider documenting your shipping preparation, purchasing insurance and the cost of the shipping service you use during the holidays
  • Even though shipping services state their guidelines, be safe, build a few extra travel days into your schedule 


It may seem hard to believe, but the holiday season is upon us. Whatever you may be choosing to celebrate, the fact so many special occasions are coming up means one thing is certain: There’s going to be an influx of people with packages in need of shipping, and we’re already starting to see delays.  So how can you increase the odds of your packages arriving on time?



First, the holiday season has traditionally been an extremely busy time for shipping services – and that was before a pandemic made reliance on delivered items a staple of many people’s lives. That’s why if you’re a procrastinator by your own nature, this would be a great year to get a jump start on your resolution to break that habit.

The United States Post Service (USPS), United Parcel Service (UPS) and the Federal Express (FedEx) recently announced their deadline dates for arrival in time for Christmas. USPS said packages need to be shipped by Wednesday, Dec. 15 for ground service, Friday, Dec. 17 for first-class, Saturday, Dec. 18 for Priority Mail and Thursday, Dec. 23 for Priority Mail Express within the contiguous 48 states.

Using FedEx? Make sure you get your items on their way by Thursday, Dec. 9 for domestic ground economy and Wednesday, Dec. 15 if shipping via domestic ground. Packages can be shipped through different express services between Tuesday, Dec. 21 and Friday, Dec. 24 for Christmas arrival. UPS announced packages can be delivered by Christmas Eve if shipped through select express services between Tuesday, Dec. 21 and Thursday, Dec. 23; the company’s ground shipping calculator can be used to determine other arrival dates.



For anyone considering waiting later to ship, be forewarned that “overnight” may not be overnight depending on the time and day you drop your package off. Sunday delivery is typically not offered by USPS and UPS and even if it is where you live this year, the sheer number of packages will likely not allow you an “extra” day for service. You can, however, request UPS’ Express Critical Care Package service for time sensitive shipments in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Additionally, in our experience, SurePost™ and SmartPost™ are products that use both USPS and either UPS and FedEx, respectively. Those services transfer packages to the nearest hub for delivery and then use USPS for the home stretch of delivery. They are not guaranteed and because they use a combination of carriers, tracking them can be difficult and frustrating, making them less than optimal for time-sensitive shipments.

Lastly, be careful using odd-shaped packaging as they can be labeled non conveyable, meaning they roll off conveyor belts as they pass through systems. This results in the item falling off to the side for someone to sort later ­– and “later” may be too late during the holidays. Find a standard size box or carton with flat sides whenever possible to avoid potential delays.



If you haven’t already heard the news, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is projecting rate hikes through 2024. These projections follow the company’s second price rate hike earlier this August – the first took place on Jan. 24 – meaning it’s going to cost you more to get those packages to your customers, family and/or friends this holiday season.

Further complicating matters is the current workforce shortage affecting thousands of employers nationwide. Employees in certain industries can be hard to come by during the holiday season even in non-pandemic times; now, people nationwide should be prepared for a repeat of 2020 where hubs and transfer stations 1 million-plus packages miss their hopeful Christmas arrival date. Keeping in mind that USPS outlets are already reporting delays currently in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York  … And you might find yourself inclined to start making those shipping plans sooner than later.

Be sure to keep your eyes and ears to the ground for if you hear any rumors about the Post Office near you having staffing issues, it may be best to err on the side of caution. Many shipping services will not guarantee delivery time frames through the rest of the year beginning on or around Nov. 15, so again, the sooner you can ship your packages, the better.



A final word to the wise: Given the potential for delays and staffing issues during a peak shipping season, many carrier services will be looking to hire extra help. Massive numbers of that help may be inexperienced. That’s why it’s a good idea to truly handle your goods with care, packing them securely to avoid damage as best possible as they travel to and fro across the country. 

$50 worth of insurance is included with all USPS Priority Mail items; more insurance coverage is also available at an additional cost on standard mail, Priority and Express items. UPS and FedEx also offer insurance at an extra cost. Having trouble deciding whether it’s worth it? Simply ask yourself whether it’s worth the extra money to risk an item showing up broken (and in turn ruining someone’s holiday) with no recourse on the carrier’s part to make it right or not.

You might also consider taking pictures to document a packages condition before it is shipped. Photos can come in handy in a pinch if a carrier requires inspections of packages to evaluate packing quality before issuing a refund for damages. See our previous entry for more on what can and can’t be shipped.

Finally, even though these services state their guidelines, be safe, build a few extra travel days into your schedule. 

Learn more about how we can help you meet your packaging and box needs today by emailing or give us a call at (513) 241-8126.

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