Start Planning Now! Holiday Shipping Just Got Slower and More Expensive

published Oct 4, 2021
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I know — it’s more than a little mind-boggling for me to remind you about holiday cards and presents in [checks calendar] October, but there are a few major reasons to get a head start on your list this year. For starters, there are bound to be plenty of delays, whether you’re waiting for a gift to arrive from your online retailer, or if you’re sending a loved one something in the mail.

As NPR reported, the United States Postal Service’s “new service standards” went into place Oct. 1, resulting in slower target delivery times for mail traveling long distances (i.e., cross-country.) According to USPS spokesperson Kim Frum, an estimated 61 percent of first-class mail will not be affected by the changes, and 93 percent of periodicals are not expected to be affected, either; the changes will also primarily affect parcels rather than letters. In other words, that junk mail will still find its way to you — but if you want to mail someone a homemade blanket for the holidays, you’d better finish it and ship it off ASAP.

What’s more, expect that package to be more expensive than it is in the spring or summer. As of Oct. 3, the USPS implemented temporary holiday price increases, which range between 25 cents and $5 per package, based on how far a package is traveling and how much it weighs. The increase ends after Dec. 26, so if your holidays extend past that date, or your loved ones are okay with exchanging gifts well into January, you can plan accordingly.

The USPS hasn’t yet issued its deadlines for the last days to ship a package or card before the 2021 holidays. FedEx recently released its guidelines for shipping a gift by December 25, 2021; if your holiday is before then (remember that Hanukkah starts on the relatively early date of Nov. 28 this year!), subtract the same amount of days from your intended deadline. Entertainment Tonight notes that UPS hasn’t issued its guidelines for holiday 2021 deadlines yet. Apartment Therapy will update this post as we know more.