US Postal Service announces holiday shipping deadlines: How to make sure packages arrive by Christmas

FILE - Priority Mail packages await shipment at the Indianapolis Mail Processing Annex on Dec. 15, 2014, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

The United States Postal Service has announced holiday shipping deadlines that should be followed to ensure Christmas packages arrive on time. 

The USPS recommends shipping holiday cards and gifts for Christmas by Dec. 15 using USPS Retail Ground Service if the packages must be delivered by Dec. 25, according to the USPS website.

First-class mail should be sent by Dec. 17, priority mail by Dec. 18 and priority mail express service by Dec. 23 to ensure on-time Christmas delivery.

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Those dates vary for those living in Hawaii and Alaska, and the USPS also listed recommended shipping dates for those sending packages overseas or to the military.

Children sending wish lists to Santa must get them in the mail by Dec. 10, no matter where they are sending them in the United States.

"The earlier you send, the better: Don’t delay, mail and ship today," the postal service says.

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The USPS says the busiest time of the holiday shipping season begins two weeks before Christmas, and the week of Dec. 13-18 is expected to be the busiest of the mailing season.

Shipping by a deadline does not guarantee packages will arrive on time, the USPS said, unless otherwise noted.

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