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The Official 2020 Guide to Holiday Shipping Deadlines

If you prefer to wait a little further into the holiday season to do your holiday shopping, good for you. The question is: How long can you wait before it's too late to get those gifts to where they're going in time for Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah? Here are all the holiday shipping deadlines for 2020.

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Holiday shipping deadlines 2020

Although various experts are reporting that a lot of us will be belt-tightening this holiday season—one of the ways the novel coronavirus has changed our shopping habits—it seems that online holiday shopping hasn’t gotten that memo. A recent survey found:

  • 55 percent of respondents say they will mail gifts to friends and family
  • 35 percent of respondents say they will do all of their holiday shopping online
  • 32 percent of respondents say they are scaling back on their holiday shopping

With more people shipping gifts and more people ordering gifts online, you’ll want to ship your gifts as early as possible to make sure they arrive on time. Exactly how long does that take? Find out all the holiday shipping deadlines of 2020—unless otherwise noted, dates are for U.S. delivery on or before December 24. You can save some cash by starting with these 40 tips to save money when holiday shopping online.

United States Postal Service logoEmma Kumer/

The U.S. Postal Service

Here are the recommended ship-by dates for expected delivery in the 48 contiguous United States by December 25:

  • UPS Retail Ground Service: December 15
  • First Class Mail Service: December 18
  • Priority Mail Service: December 19
  • Priority Mail Express Service: December 23

Please note that these deadlines (and all of the deadlines reflected in this story) will obviously be earlier if you’re hoping for delivery by Hanukkah (December 10 to 18), whereas you’ll enjoy a small cushion if you’re hoping for delivery in time for Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1). Please also keep in mind that these USPS dates are “recommended” for “expected delivery,” as opposed to guarantees of delivery by a certain date. Learn all the ways free shipping could be costing you more.

UPS logoEmma Kumer/


UPS provides a guide to the recommended last days to ship for delivery by December 24. These are:

          • UPS Ground: December 15
          • UPS 3-Day Select: December 21
          • UPS 2nd Day Air: December 22
          • UPS Next Day Air: December 23

Other deadlines will apply for shipments outside the United States, and this is true for all the shipping deadlines mentioned here, unless otherwise specified. In recognition of the many business closures resulting from the pandemic, UPS recommends making certain the recipient’s location is actually open and will be open on the date delivery is expected. They will make three routine attempts to deliver before returning a package to its sender. Ever wonder how UPS prepares for the holiday season? Here are UPS’s best-kept secrets.

FedEx logoEmma Kumer/


Here are FedEx’s suggested last days to ship for delivery within the United States by December 25, 2020:

    • FedEx Smart Post: December 9
    • FedEx Home Delivery: December 15
    • FedEx Ground: December 15
    • FedEx Express Saver: December 21
    • FedEx 3 Day: December 21
    • FedEx 2Day: December 22
    • FedEx Overnight: December 23
    • FedEx Same Day Delivery will be available on December 25

“Allow plenty of time to help ensure your deliveries arrive when you want them to,” FedEx advises, and be sure to check back with the FedEx website “often” because “dates may change as this record-breaking holiday season progresses.” Here are 13 things FedEx drivers won’t tell you.

HSN logoEmma Kumer/

Home Shopping Network (HSN)

The Home Shopping Networks holiday shipping deadlines for 2020 have some specifics but basically order by December 21 for guaranteed delivery by Christmas. Check out these insider secrets to help you save at all your favorite stores.

Harry & David logoEmma Kumer/

Harry & David

It doesn’t get much easier than Harry & David’s holiday shipping deadlines for 2020, which spell out the last day for shipping for delivery by Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas. The last date for Christmas delivery is December 23, but that will cost extra. Don’t miss these holiday food gifts anyone on your list would love.


  • Ware2Go: “Ware2Go Holiday Survey: 87% of Americans Say the Holidays Will Be Different This Year”

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.

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