(NEXSTAR) — The U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS have released recommended shipping dates to ensure that gifts and cards arrive in time for Christmas.

In an economy upended by the coronavirus pandemic, shortages and price spikes have hit everything from lumber to computer chips to toilet paper, prompting retailers to recommend that consumers shop early or risk not finding what they want for Christmas, which falls on a Saturday this year.

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Additionally, the USPS has slowed mail delivery as part of a plan it said would cut costs and increase reliability. The new service standards mean USPS will increase the delivery time for 39% of first-class mail and 93% of periodicals such as magazines.

In 2020, mail services were thoroughly overwhelmed as holiday shoppers shifted their buying online amid the pandemic. USPS said on its website then that it was “experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19.”

This year, USPS recommends starting early. “The earlier you send, the better: Don’t delay, mail and ship today,” it stated on its website.

Here are the dates you should mark on your calendar:


  • Dec. 17 — First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 17 — First-Class packages (smaller)
  • Dec. 19 — Priority Mail
  • Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express


  • Dec. 14 — FedEx Ground Economy
  • Dec. 14 — FedEx Ground and Home Delivery
  • Dec. 20 — Express Saver
  • Dec. 21 — 2Day & 2Day AM
  • Dec. 22 — Overnight Services
  • Dec. 23 — FedEx Same Day


  • Dec. 20 — third-day services
  • Dec. 21 — second-day air services 
  • Dec. 22 — next-day air services

And remember that shipping costs will go up as Dec. 25 nears.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.