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When's the Final Day to Ship a Gift to Arrive by Christmas With USPS, FedEx, UPS or Amazon?

You've still got a little time, but you'd better hurry.

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3 min read
amidst falling snow, an old-fashioned red alarm clock sits next to three stacked holiday packages wrapped in red and green ribbons. the clock shows a time of five minutes before midnight.

The clock is ticking on your deadlines to send packages for Christmas.

karandaev/Getty Images

Christmas is only a week away, and Kwanzaa starts the day after. If you celebrate either holiday and are hoping to have gifts arrive on schedule, it's time to wrap up your shopping and get to a delivery service (or online shopping option) ASAP.

Every year, the major shipping and delivery companies announce their holiday deadlines, usually focused on Christmas. These are generally the last days that you can send packages and expect them to arrive on time. 

Read more: 26 White Elephant Gifts People Will Actually Want

Here are the 2023 Christmas shipping deadlines for the major American package delivery services. If you're looking for great gift suggestions, check out CNET's favorite holiday gift picks or great last-minute gifts you can print or email.

FedEx shipping deadlines to arrive by Dec. 25, 2023

With Christmas falling on a Monday this year, you won't get overnight delivery from FedEx on Christmas Eve. Instead, you'll have to ship FedEx SameDay on Friday, Dec. 22, to get your package delivered before Christmas. FedEx Express Saver, 2Day and 3Day deadlines are all the week before Christmas, and the FedEx Ground deadline is two weeks before, on Dec. 15.

Here are the dates FedEx recommends you ship by (PDF) to have your packages arrive on or before Dec. 25 in the US.

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines

Domestic serviceShip date
Ground Dec. 15
Express Saver Dec. 19
2Day and 2Day AM* Dec. 20
First Overnight and Priority Overnight* Dec. 21
SameDay Dec. 22

* 2Day, First Overnight and Priority Overnight can be sent one day later with an optional Saturday Delivery surcharge for $16 per package.

UPS shipping deadlines to arrive by Dec. 25, 2023

As with FedEx, UPS shipping deadlines are about a day earlier than normal. You'll need to send your very last packages by Dec. 21 to make sure they arrive by Dec. 25. Here are UPS' recommended shipping dates (PDF) for Christmas 2023.

UPS holiday shipping deadlines

Domestic serviceShip date
Ground Check the UPS website for deadlines
3-Day Select Dec. 19
2nd Day Air Dec. 20
Next Day Air Dec. 21

USPS shipping deadlines for Dec. 25, 2023

The US Postal Service deadlines for shipping Christmas packages are also a day or so earlier than last year. Here are the dates the post office recommends you circle on your calendar if you want packages to arrive before Dec. 25, including for Alaska and Hawaii.

USPS holiday shipping deadlines

Domestic serviceDate (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)Date for AlaskaDate for Hawaii
USPS Retail Ground Dec. 16Dec. 16Dec. 16
First-Class Mail Dec. 16Dec. 16Dec. 16
Priority Mail Dec. 18Dec. 18Dec. 16
Priority Mail Express Dec. 20Dec. 20Dec. 20

Amazon estimated shipping deadlines for Dec. 25, 2023

You may be able to streamline the shopping and mailing process by ordering straight from Amazon and shipping the package directly to your giftee. Amazon is coy about its shipping dates and often waits until much closer to Christmas before it lists its holiday shipping deadlines. We can extrapolate the deadline this year from shipping dates for preceding holiday seasons.

Note that these are estimated delivery dates. If it were us, we might not risk everything on those one-day and same-day delivery dates and instead send an electronic gift certificate. All shipping dates except for e-gift cards and free shipping in five to eight days are exclusively for Prime members. Each Amazon product listing page will also provide an estimated shipping date.

Amazon holiday shipping deadlines

Shipping typeDeadline to buyDate delivered
Free shipping Dec. 14Dec. 23
2-day shipping (Prime) Dec. 22Dec. 24
1-day shipping (Prime) Dec. 23Dec. 24
Same day delivery (Prime) Dec. 24Dec. 24
e-Gift card delivery Dec. 25Dec. 25

How to ship packages to arrive in time for Kwanzaa this year

Shipping companies don't list specific deadlines for Kwanzaa. However, it's not too hard to estimate the dates you'll need to ship by to have your packages arrive on time.

For Kwanzaa, you can basically use the dates for Christmas. Kwanzaa starts on Dec. 26. If you want any Kwanzaa packages to arrive before the holiday begins, use the shipping deadlines for Christmas.

Nothing is guaranteed, and storms and package supply shortages may result in shipping delays, as happened a few years ago.

To make sure your packages are safely delivered, here's how to guard against porch pirates. And if you need a little inspiration, here are some cool gifts for under $100.