Holiday Shipping Cheat-Sheet: 4 Tips to Make Sure Your Gifts Arrive on Time

No one wants to show up on Christmas day empty-handed. Use this handy shipping guide to get those gifts ordered and under the tree before the big day.

You've spent hours shopping for thoughtful, personal gifts for every child,  DIYer, tech enthusiast, cook, and new nester in your life—now, the goodies just have to reach their final destinations. Don't let your efforts go to waste. Follow these holiday shipping guidelines to ensure your gifts arrive in time to be wrapped and stuffed in stockings or set beneath the tree.

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Mark Your Calendar for Free Shipping Day

What’s better than free shipping? How about free shipping that’s promised to be on your doorstep in time for Christmas. December 14 is free shipping day, when many online stores offer free shipping and guaranteed delivery by Christmas. Find out if your favorite stores are participating. This holiday includes over 1,000 retailers! If you're gearing up for a large number of gifts on your doorstep, use these guidelines to help keep packages safe. Here's what to do if a package gets stolen.

Streamline Shipping

Avoid holiday lines at the post office by using usps.com. Set up an account, then order Priority Mail Forever Prepaid Flat Rate boxes. Postage-paid boxes arrive in your mailbox, so you can pack your presents and send them without leaving the comfort of your home. The boxes have your return address, free tracking, and Forever postage. Stock up on all your shipping and mailing supplies at home before the holiday rush so you can send out gifts with ease while you sip on hot cocoa and skip the post office craziness. 

Know Mailing Deadlines

The USPS, FedEx and UPS have all published their “Last Day to Ship” schedules for the 2018 holiday season, making it easy to know when to ship if you want your gifts to be under the tree by Christmas morning. For the USPS the mail-by date for First-Class Mail, including cards; and Priority Mail is December 20. The mail-by date for Priority Mail Express is December 22. If you want two-day shipping from FedEx or UPS, you should order your gifts no later than December 20.

Amazon has its own shipping calendar. December 22 is the last day to use two-day shipping with Prime, and December 23 is the last option to use one-day shipping for Christmas gifts

Mail Online Orders Directly to Recipient

In a pinch? Save time and money by having an online order mailed directly to whomever you’re gifting it to, rather than ordering the gift, wrapping it, and paying to ship it again. Many online retailers offer complimentary or low-cost gift-wrapping during the check-out process. Shipping directly to the recipient is also a smart option if you plan to travel to another destination for Christmas and don't want to get hit with fees for carting extra luggage along.

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