The thought of free shipping boxes sounds very enticing, but there’s more to think about than just boxes when it comes to being efficient with your holiday shipping.
December is the busiest shipping month for all shipping carriers: DHL, FedEx, UPS and the United States Postal Service (USPS). You’ve got shipping from Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday sales plus gifts for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Boxing Day. On top of that are the holiday cards that are mailed to millions of people around the world. (Yes, some people still use snail mail for holiday tidings!) Plus there’s regular mail – like your bills! Oh, and there’s nothing like a blizzard to throw a wrench into shipping transportation. Prevent holiday stress by planning your shopping and shipping timelines.
Shipping Deadlines – 2018
If you’re planning to ship via the USPS, be familiar with their suggested deadlines to get your packages and cards delivered by December 25th:
Retail Ground – December 14
First Class Mail – December 20
Priority Mail – December 20
Priority Mail Express – December 22
If your deadline is not December 25th, plan accordingly for your due date based on the above timeline (a minimum of four business days ahead, not including the day of your deadline).
If you’re shipping internationally or to a military post, check out the rest of the deadlines here.
USPS does offer free shipping boxes. You can pick them up in person or order them online here.
Amazon free shipping – Members of Amazon Prime receive free two-day shipping on many items. Be aware that this timeline is not a guarantee. As someone who has paid for expedited shipping and didn’t receive it by the promised date (yes, I got a refund, but that didn’t help me with the late part), I recommend that you follow the USPS shipping deadlines. If you want to play it safe, set your deadlines even earlier.
Target free shipping, Walmart free shipping and free shipping offered by other retailers – Each retailer has different order minimums for free shipping. Some items might meet the price minimum but are exempt from the free shipping offer, so read the fine print.
If there’s free shipping, that means free shipping boxes! No need to worry about shipping supplies – just ship directly to your gift recipients. No matter which retailer you choose for free shipping, understand that delays happen. Shop early and order early.
Plan for Receiving Deliveries
Mail theft increases at holiday time. Thieves case neighborhoods because they know that each day, someone on the block will be receiving a package that will sit on the porch.
Hiding place – If no one is at home all day because you work, consider using a large decorative basket or trunk or holiday display to hide the packages you’ll receive. Speak with your mail carrier about the hiding place. If you never see your mail carrier or if your carriers get rotated, leave a discreet note with instructions. Thieves walking door to door might see the note, but thieves driving by won’t be able to.
Ship to an alternate address – If you don’t want to worry about packages on your porch, consider shipping to your office (if it’s allowed) or make a deal with a neighbor who is home all day and can receive your shipments. (Holiday treats or a nice bottle of their favorite beverage would sweeten the deal.) You could also check with your post office about renting a PO Box for November, December and January.
Arrange for a mail hold if you’ll be traveling – When you request a mail hold from the USPS, they’ll hang on to all mail and packages until you return home. DHL, FedEx and UPS don’t offer this service, so if you shop with retailers that use these carriers, plan your purchases and shipping accordingly. If loved ones are going to ship anything to you, let them know your travel schedule so they can plan their purchases and shipping, too.
If these holiday shipping tips have been helpful to you, please feel free to share this post with others!