Want your gifts on time for Christmas? These shipping dates are important

BRIESELANG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 04: A worker prepares packages for delivery at an Amazon warehouse on September 4, 2014 in Brieselang, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — While the idea of a magical sleigh carrying gifts around the world in a single night is nice, the reality is that delivery services are inundated with a flood of packages every holiday season, so planning ahead is key if you want to get them under the tree in time.

With so many packages to deliver, it can take longer than usual for them to reach their final destination. To make things even more complicated, Christmas falls on a Monday in 2017, and weekend delivery options are often more limited. Luckily, Amazon, FedExUPS, and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) release their holiday schedules ahead of time. Each service offers a few options depending on how long the package takes to ship, and of course the faster the delivery, the more it costs.

Each provider can provide customers with more detailed information, but below are some guidelines and dates to watch out for if you’re sending presents somewhere in the continental U.S. and want them to arrive by December 24.

Protip: Want to estimate when your package will arrive? Use the shipping calculators from UPS or FedEx.

Thursday, December 14

  • USPS: Last day for USPS Retail Ground delivery by December 24

Friday, December 15

  • Amazon: Last day for FREE Shipping by Amazon (with a minimum order of $25)
  • FedEx: Possible last day for ground delivery to some areas (taking 1-5 business days – check the map), with no Saturday delivery available
  • UPS: Possible last day for standard delivery to some areas (taking 1-5 business days), but Saturday delivery is available in some areas

Monday, December 18

  • Amazon: Last day for Standard Shipping
  • FedEx: Possible last day for Home Delivery service to some areas (check the map), with Saturday delivery available
  • UPS: Last day to send 3 Day Select packages, which will take an extra day in transit, for delivery on Friday, December 22 (surcharge may apply)

Tuesday, December 19

  • USPS: Last day for First Class Mail delivery by December 24

Wednesday, December 20

  • UPS: Last day to ship 2nd Day Air packages for standard delivery on Friday, December 22
  • USPS: Last day for Priority Mail delivery by December 24

Thursday, December 21

  • FedEx: Last day for 2 Day delivery on December 23 ($16 Saturday delivery fee per package)
  • UPS: Last day for 2nd Day Air service marked for Saturday delivery (to arrive on December 23) in select areas

Friday, December 22

  • Amazon: Last day for Two-Day Shipping
  • FedEx: Last day for Overnight delivery on December 23 ($16 Saturday delivery fee per package)
  • UPS: Last day to ship UPS Next Day Air packages marked for Saturday delivery (to arrive on December 23)
  • USPS: Last day for Priority Mail Express delivery by December 24

Saturday, December 23

  • Amazon: Last day for One-Day Shipping (in select areas)

Sunday, December 24 (Christmas Eve)

  • Amazon: Last day for Same-Day Delivery and two-hour delivery delivery with Prime Now (in select areas)
  • FedEx: FedEx SameDay service still available
  • UPS: UPS Express Critical service available