Ship your gifts by Friday if you want them to arrive for Christmas!

BBB tips for sending holiday packages

The holiday season means sending holiday cards and gifts to friends and family all over the U.S.  As the clock ticks down to Christmas day, shoppers are rushing to ship their packages to make the Dec. 25 deadline.

While the different mailing services have varying deadlines, and there are options for overnight delivery and other express services, the U.S. Postal Service suggest all parcel post packages be sent on or before Dec. 14 and express mail on or before Dec. 22.

Additionally, for the online shoppers out there, more than 1,300 merchants are participating in Free Shipping Day on Monday, Dec. 17. This “is a one-day, online-shopping event when thousands of merchants offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve.” To see which retailers are participating, visit

Besides shipping deadlines, there are other things to consider before handing over your package to be shipped out. Better Business Bureau advises consumers to:

  • Give yourself plenty of time. When you are told the package should arrive in three to seven days, mentally add a few days to the expected shipping time. With the increased activity during the holiday season, your package getting lost or delayed is more possible than during off-season.
  • Consider your drop-off method. Most delivery services won’t simply leave a package on a doorstep without prior authorization. When selecting your delivery option, specify delivery instructions and consider pre-signing for the delivery. This way the package can be left in the recipient’s mailbox or on his or her porch. You can also consider shipping the package to an address where someone can sign for it or pick up the package at a delivery center.
  • Use a service that can electronically track your package. This allows you to follow your package throughout the process.
  • Compare rate quotes. Rates will vary significantly by destination and weight. Do your research ahead of time and obtain multiple quotes to determine the cheapest option for your holiday shipping needs. Each of the main carriers – USPS, UPS or FedEx — has a price calculator on their website.
  • Verify addresses are correct and clear. If the address is incorrect or not legible, the package could get lost in shipping. Make sure to add your return address, as well. Additionally, the USPS suggests consumers put a card with both the delivery and return addresses inside each box, in case the outer labels fall off or are destroyed.