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You are so thoughtful. You really took the time buying that special gift for people who mean so much to you. Now you want to make sure they get to see what it looks like in one piece as opposed to many little pieces, and preferably a week before 2015.

If you are mailing your holiday package yourself, here are a few suggestions to help you get it off the ground.

Size matters

According to UPS, you should use the following formula:

Length + 2x Width + 2x Height

Step 1. Determining Length Measure the longest side of the package, rounding to the nearest inch. This is your length.

Step 2. Determining Girth (2x Width + 2x Height) Measure the width of the package, rounding to the nearest inch. Multiply this number by 2. Measure the height of the package, rounding to the nearest inch. Multiply this number by 2.

Add these two numbers together. This is your girth.

Step 3. Add the length and the girth together. This is your package measurement.

Step 4. Weigh the package to obtain its actual weight.

The outside matters too

It's a good idea to use a new box. You want a sturdy box, one that can withstand the pounding and throwing around that happens during the holiday shuffle.

Having a little cushioning is a good idea too.Just a few inches of space on all sides should work. Use at least 1 to 2 inches of cushioning around the item — top, bottom and all sides. Plastic air cushioning material, foam packing peanuts or packing paper are all good options. USPS has free holiday boxes for shipping.

Inside info 

Because things do really get tossed around and also it's the time of year where weather can be messy. Both of these things can cause your labels to get smudged or torn off. It's a good idea to make sure you leave all the info like to whom the package is going along with your return address on the inside flap of the box or a piece of paper inside the box so if they can't read the label they will know where to send it.

Put your wrapped gift in the box. Don't try to decorate the shipping box. It will get caught on sorting machines, which can slow things down and can even end up tearing the whole box apart.

Deadlines, deadlines

Now that you are packed and have it ready to go here are shipping deadlines for USPS, FedEx, and UPS.

USPS

First ClassSaturday, 12/20
Priority MailSaturday, 12/20
Priority Mail ExpressTuesday, 12/23
Standard PostMonday, 12/15
DNDC Drop ShipFriday, 12/19
DDU Drop ShipMonday, 12/22

FedEx

FedEx Smart PostFriday, 12/12
FedEx Home DeliveryWednesday, 12/17
FedEx GroundWednesday, 12/17
FedEx Express SaverSaturday, 12/20
FedEx 2DayMonday, 12/22
FedEx 2Day AMMonday, 12/22
FedEx Standard OvernightTuesday, 12/23
FedEx Priority OvernightTuesday, 12/23
FedEx First OvernightTuesday, 12/23

UPS

UPS has organized its advice a bit differently:

Saturday, 12/20Delivery of UPS Worldwide Express, UPS Next Day Air and UPS 2nd Day Air packages processed and labeled for Saturday Delivery.
Pickup service provided to regular Saturday pickup customers for air and international packages, or if prearranged by Friday, Dec. 19. All locations of The UPS Store will be open.
Monday, 12/22Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air packages in time for Christmas (arriving Wednesday, Dec. 24).
Tuesday, Dec. 23Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship UPS Next Day Air packages in time for Christmas (arriving Wednesday, Dec. 24).
Tuesday, 12/23Normal pickup and delivery service. This is the last day to ship UPS Next Day Air packages in time for Christmas (arriving Wednesday, Dec. 24).
Wednesday, 12/24Normal delivery of air, international and ground shipments. Pickup service available for air and international shipments if prearranged by Tuesday, Dec. 23. UPS On-Call Pickup service and UPS Drop Boxes are available to all customers for air and international shipments. No UPS Ground, UPS Standard or 3 Day Select pickups until Friday,
Thursday, 12/25No UPS pickup or delivery service. (UPS Express Critical service is available for urgent packages. Call 1-800-714-8779.)
Friday, 12/26Delivery of air and international packages.* Normal pickup service (all service levels).

In all cases, exceptions, deviations and unexpected changes are possible. Always check with the carrier to be sure the information applies in your specific case.


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