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Don't Send Late Holiday Packages: Learn the Shipping Deadlines for 2022

You want your presents to arrive in time for the holidays. Here's when you need to send them.

Three packages of different sizes sitting on a porch
Hanukkah starts in eight days, and Christmas and Kwanzaa arrive in two weeks.
Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

The holiday shopping season can be a blur, but don't lose track of the end game. Hanukkah starts a week from Sunday, and Christmas and Kwanzaa follow the week after. If you're shipping any packages to far-flung relatives and friends, you'd best do it soon. 

In fact, if you want Hanukkah packages to arrive by the first night via the Postal Service's standard rate, you'll need to send them today. (You can still get them there with Priority Mail if you ship by Monday, Dec. 12.)

Hanukkah this year starts on Dec. 18, and runs through Dec. 26. Kwanzaa starts as Hanukkah ends, on Dec. 26, and it continues until Jan. 1. And Christmas -- the holiday around which most shipping services set their deadlines -- arrives on Dec. 25.

For the best chance of having your letters and packages arrive on time this year, the big shipping and delivery companies have announced the deadlines to meet.

Here are the 2022 Christmas shipping schedules for the major American package delivery services. If you're wondering how prices at each service compare, we did the math to show average rates for UPS, FedEx and USPS. If you're looking for great presents for anyone, you can always check out CNET's favorite holiday gift picks

FedEx shipping deadlines for Dec. 25, 2022

Because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, you can't get overnight delivery from FedEx on Christmas Eve. You'll have to ship FedEx SameDay on Dec. 23 to get your package there by Christmas. FedEx Express Saver, 2Day and Overnight service deadlines are all one day earlier this year, due to the Sunday holiday date.

If you want the cheapest option, the FedEx Ground delivery deadline is Dec. 14.

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

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines

Domestic service Ship date
Ground Dec. 14
Express Saver Dec. 20
2Day and 2Day AM* Dec. 21
First Overnight and Priority Overnight* Dec. 22
SameDay Dec. 23

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

UPS shipping deadlines for Dec. 25, 2022

Similarly to FedEx, UPS shipping deadlines are all about a day earlier than last year. You'll need to send your very latest packages by Dec. 22 to make sure they arrive by Dec. 25. Here are UPS' recommended shipping dates (PDF) for Christmas 2022.

UPS holiday shipping deadlines

Domestic service Ship date
Ground Check the UPS website for deadlines
3-Day Select Dec. 20
2nd Day Air Dec. 21
Next Day Air Dec. 22

USPS shipping deadlines for Dec. 25, 2022

The US Post Office deadlines for shipping packages for Christmas are about exactly the same as last year. Here are the dates the post office recommends you circle on your calendar if you want your packages to arrive by Dec. 25.

USPS holiday shipping deadlines

Domestic service Date (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) Date for Alaska Date for Hawaii
USPS Retail Ground Dec. 17 Dec. 2 N/A
First-Class Mail Dec. 17 Dec. 17 Dec. 17
Priority Mail Dec. 19 Dec. 17 Dec. 17
Priority Mail Express Dec. 23 Dec. 21 Dec. 21

Amazon shipping deadlines for Dec. 25, 2022

You can cut some time out of the shopping and mailing process by ordering straight from Amazon and shipping the package directly to someone -- as long as you have their address. Amazon hasn't yet listed its holiday shipping deadlines for 2022, but we can extrapolate the deadline this year from last year's shipping dates.

Note that these are estimated delivery dates. All shipping dates except for e-Gift cards and free shipping in five to 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 type Deadline to buy Date delivered
Free shipping Dec. 15 Dec. 23
2-day shipping (Prime) Dec. 22 Dec. 24
1-day shipping (Prime) Dec. 23 Dec. 24
Same day delivery (Prime) Dec. 24 Dec. 24
e-Gift card delivery Dec. 25 Dec. 25

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

Shipping companies don't list specific deadlines for Hanukkah or 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, which is a federal holiday this year. USPS and UPS will both not be delivering packages on Dec. 26, and FedEx will have limited services. If you want any Kwanzaa packages to arrive before the holiday begins, use the shipping deadlines for Christmas.

Hanukkah starts in 2022 on Dec. 18 and runs through Dec. 26. Since Hanukkah begins exactly a week before Christmas, you could subtract a week from the Christmas deadlines so that your packages arrive before the start of Hanukkah. For example, to have a standard USPS package arrive by Dec. 18, you'll want to send it by Dec. 10. For USPS Priority Mail, you should send packages before Dec. 12.

Nothing is guaranteed, and storms and package supply shortage may result in shipping delays, as has happened in the last few years.

Did you know you can buy unclaimed packages? To make sure your packages stay delivered, here's how to guard against porch pirates. And here are some cool gifts for under $100.