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.

By Rachel Wermager
November 29, 2018
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You've spent hours shopping for thoughtful, personal gifts for your mom, dad, best friend, and co-worker—now, the goodies just need to reach their final destinations. Don't let your efforts go to waste by missing important shipping deadlines. Each year, the USPS, FedEx, UPS, and even Amazon compile handy ship-by guides to ensure delivery before Santa's out making his rounds. You can also save money and bypass holiday lines by participating in Free Shipping Day, which is on December 14, 2019. To help you make quick work of your holiday shopping and shipping to-do list, we've rounded up four useful tips to get those gifts wrapped and stuffed in stockings or set beneath the tree with plenty of time to spare.

Credit: 10'000 Hours/Getty Images

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. This year's Free Shipping Day will take place on Saturday, December 14, and will include more than 1,000 retailers. (If you're gearing up for a large number of gifts on your doorstep, use these tips to help keep packages safe. We also have advice for 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 2019 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 21. If you want two-day shipping from FedEx or UPS, you should order your gifts no later than December 20.

Amazon has its very own shipping calendar for holiday shoppers, and these four dates are key: December 14 is the last day for free shipping (on qualifying orders over $25) to receive your items by Christmas, December 18 is the last day for standard shipping, December 22 is the cutoff for free delivery with Prime, and December 23 is the last day to get one-day delivery with Prime.

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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