No sleigh and reindeer? Better ship Christmas gifts early this year

December 15 is the deadline for ground shipping for USPS, UPS, and FedEx

SAN ANTONIO – Unless you have a sleigh and reindeer at your disposal, you‘d be wise to ship Christmas presents early this year as the U.S. Postal Service and delivery companies anticipate a record surge of packages.

Employees were as busy as elves Thursday at The UPS Store on Wurzbach Road in San Antonio. But the real blizzard of boxes and bubble wrap is right around the corner.

“Next week is going to get very hectic,” Jacob Quinones, a sales assistant, said. “We’re going to be having a lot of drop-offs, a lot of shipping.”

The week of December 14-21 is expected to be the busiest as people send their gifts and goodies to friends and family. Mailing next week will help beat that rush.

If there is one date to remember, it’s December 15. That’s the cutoff date for ground shipping for USPS, UPS, and FedEx. You will still be able to mail and ship after that, but it will cost you.

“Mostly now because of Covid, there’s no guarantees on any shipping, unfortunately,” Quinones said. “So, the sooner the better to ship is the best thing to do right now.”

If you’re planning to mail holiday cards, you should try and get them into the mailbox by December 18. That’s the deadline for first-class mail.

Shipping companies are already slammed as they deliver record holiday purchases made online. Many retailers are urging customers to shop and ship early and take advantage of curbside pickup if available.

To get packages to their destination before Christmas, here are deadlines for continental U.S. shipping:


  • USPS retail ground - Tuesday, December 15
  • USPS first class mail - Friday, December 18
  • USPS priority mail - Saturday, December 19
  • USPS priority mail express - Wednesday, December 23


  • UPS ground - Tuesday, December 15
  • UPS 3-day select - Monday, December 21
  • UPS 2nd day air - Tuesday, December 22
  • UPS next day air - Wednesday, December 23


  • FedEx SmartPost Wednesday, December 9 (some exceptions)
  • FedEx ground - Tuesday, December 15
  • FedEx home delivery - Tuesday, December 15
  • FedEx express saver - Monday, December 21
  • FedEx 2-day - Tuesday, December 22
  • FedEx Overnight - Wednesday December 23

For military or international shipping visit,,

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About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.