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Will My Gifts Arrive on Time? Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2021

Holiday shopping experts are predicting that consumers will spend 6.7 percent more this year than in 2020, when many brick and mortar businesses were still closed and vaccines weren’t widely available. This means that much more demand on the global supply chain and global shipping infrastructure, as countless individuals work to deliver gifts by the big day.   

With billions of Christmas presents in the mail, there are a lot of people wondering when they absolutely have to ship their items so that they arrive before Christmas Day. For holiday procrastinators everywhere, time is short, so don’t wait. 

As you read this, countless shoppers like you are placing orders on Amazon and other online retailers, as well as standing line at FedEx, UPS and the post office hoping to ship wrapped gift home to loved ones in time. You’ve still got a few weeks, but we recommend placing your order sooner rather than later.

The longer you delay, the more likely your packages are to arrive late. To make sure that your packages arrive before Christmas Day, you need to act fast.

10 Last-Minute Gifts That Offer One-Day Delivery (Or Less!)


When Are Amazon Holiday Delivery Deadlines for 2021?

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Amazon has a handy blog post for those who need guidance placing orders, and you’ve still got a few weeks before Amazon’s deadlines for Prime members and non Prime members hit. We’ve got tons of last-minute Christmas gift ideas for you, and there is still time to pick out the perfect gift. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, it depends upon the specific item and your location. However, if that’s the case, time is most definitely of the essence, and we encourage you to place orders as soon as possible to avoid potential delays.

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To make sure your Amazon shipments arrive before Christmas Day 2021, here’s what you need to know:

  • Last day to order more than 10 million items eligible for One-Day Delivery — Thursday, December 23
  • Last day to order millions of items eligible for Same-Day Delivery and Free Two-Hour Grocery Delivery in select cities — Friday, December 24*
  • Only Amazon eGift cards or an Amazon Prime Membership — Saturday, December 25

*Same-day delivery is not available in all areas


USPS Holiday Delivery Deadlines 2020

Even without supply chain delays, worker shortages and after effects of 2020 funding interruptions, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year for the USPS. You’ve still got time to ship via USPS for delivery by Christmas, 2021, but their shipping deadlines are much sooner than Amazon’s are. If you’re hoping to buy a gift, get it delivered to you, wrap it and then ship it — you should place your order as soon as possible.

  • Retail Ground — Wednesday, December 15th
  • First Class Mail — Friday, December 17th 
  • Priority Mail — Saturday, December 18th
  • Priority Mail Express — Thursday, December 23rd 

UPS Holiday Delivery Deadlines

Procrastinators, rejoice! UPS says that you can send presents as late as Wednesday, December 23 (that’s Christmas Eve’s Eve). Of course, you’ll have to pay a lot more for next-day shipping, and unless you’re shipping via Santa Claus himself, there are no guarantees with deliveries set to arrive the day before Christmas.

What are the chances your package will arrive on time with UPS? According to Digital Commerce, UPS had the highest rate of on-time deliveries in 2020, despite record-breaking volumes of packages being delivered. We’re guessing this year they’ve got it handled as well. After you’ve waited in line to drop off your gifts, UPS My Choice, their tracking software, enables you to keep an eye on your gifts while they’re in transit. You can get delivery alerts, estimated delivery times and even specify where packages should be left upon delivery.

The 2021 UPS holiday shipping deadlines for Christmas are:

  • UPS Ground — December 15th
  • UPS 3 Day Select — December 21
  • UPS 2nd Day Air — December 22
  • UPS Next Day Air — December 23

FedEx Holiday Delivery Deadlines

FedEx has the most options when it comes to last-minute delivery, which is why the logistics giant ships tens of millions of packages in the days leading up to Christmas. According to data from ShipMatrix, FedEx had a 94.6% on-time delivery rate for the 2019 holiday season.

Fed, UPS, USPS and Amazon Logistics and regional carriers all set a new industry record in 2020 with more than 3 billion packages delivered throughout the holiday season. Better yet, during the week leading up to Christmas FedEx delivered 76% of packages on time despite an unprecedented surge in volume.

If you want to ship your Christmas gifts via FedEx, there are multiple options for delivering your presents during the next few weeks so they arrive on time for the big day.

Here are the FedEx holiday delivery deadlines for 2021:

  • FedEx SmartPost — December 9th
  • FedEx Home Delivery — December 15th
  • FedEx Ground — December 15th
  • FedEx Express Saver — December 21st
  • FedEx 3Day Freight — December 21st
  • FedEx 2Day — December 22nd
  • FedEx 2Day A.M. — December 22nd
  • FedEx 2Day Freight — December 22nd
  • FedEx 1Day Freight — December 23rd
  • FedEx Extra Hours — December 23rd
  • FedEx Standard Overnight — December 23rd
  • FedEx Priority Overnight — December 23rd
  • FedEx First Overnight — December 23rd
  • FedEx SameDay — December 25th
  • FedEx SameDay City Priority — December 25th
  • FedEx SameDay City Direct — December 25th

Are My Gifts Going To Arrive in Time?

The good news? You’ve still got a few weeks to get your gifts sent so they arrive on time. Many of the major shipping deadlines from UPS, USPS and FedEx haven’t passed yet. The closer we get to the holidays, the more expensive it will become to ship your packages and order gifts online. And, unlike Santa Claus, the Postal Service and FedEx don’t have a trusty team of reindeer to fight their way through winter storms. Even if you meet the deadlines for shipping your Christmas packages, winter storms, human error, supply chain delays and record parcel volume could still disrupt your delivery.

So if your packages aren’t going to arrive in time, don’t panic! It’s not ideal, but you can always print out a picture of your gift and present it to your loved one with a thoughtful handwritten card. To avoid that scenario, stop procrastinating on buying your Christmas gifts and start shopping before it’s too late. You can also opt for digital gifts and subscription boxes, which are some of our favorite last-minute gifts.