It’s that time of year when clients ask me about planning for the holiday shopping season, that period of time between Thanksgiving (this year, November 24 – always a Thursday) and Christmas Day (December 25 every year, this year on a Sunday). That’s 33 days to Christmas Eve from Black Friday. Four days are Sundays, and five are Saturdays (if you plan on shipping Christmas Eve).

Delighting the recipient of a gift will most likely be dependent upon the delivery promise of the carrier: once you receive an order, pull, pack, and tender the transaction to a carrier, it’s up to them to keep that promise.

Keep in mind that carriers may suspend their delivery guarantee for some services.

For example:

If you turn to the published Service guide, FedEx Express (Air and International) states that: FedEx will not be obligated to refund or credit your transportation charges if:

A) The shipment was scheduled for delivery on the Wednesday immediately prior to Thanksgiving via any FedEx Express US or FedEx Express Freight US service, and was delivered within 90 minutes of the published delivery commitment time for the selected service and destination.

B) The shipment was scheduled for delivery during the seven calendar days before Christmas Day via any FedEx Express US or FedEx Express Freight US service, and was delivered by the end of the day on the published delivery commitment date for the selected service and destination. (pages 140 & 155) (Read as: Forget the 10:30 guarantee)

Fedex Ground and Home delivery is more restrictive in the limitation language:

A) The package was tendered for transportation on the Monday after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve (page 171)

Fedex has also published a separate advisory about the suspension of the Service guarantee:

The modifications to guarantees are not limited to FedEx; for example, UPS has their own advisory:

Air packages* picked up or delivered within the United States are guaranteed throughout the holiday season. Commitment times for Air and International Air packages scheduled for delivery November 25, December 18 - December 24 and December 31 will be extended as follows: UPS Next Day Air Early and UPS Worldwide Express Plus will be extended by 90 minutes, and all other Air and International air services will be extended to end-of-day. The guarantee is suspended for UPS Ground and UPS Standard shipments picked up or scheduled for delivery between November 27 - December 3 and December 18 - December 24.

USPS, Fedex, and UPS have all published holiday shipping deadlines.

You can find the USPS information at:

If you use a hybrid residential solution with an integrator (like FedEx SmartPost, UPS SurePost, DHL e-commerce) your expectation should be delivery the day after the integrator drops off the package at a DDU (the destination Delivery Unit – the post office closest to the recipient’s home). Understand that this is not by any stretch a guaranteed service during holiday peak.

The UPS holiday shipping advisory is at:

Information on Holiday shipping for Fedex can be found at:

The DHL Express holiday schedule can be located at:

If you are a large shipper, in particular those in e-commerce, you may improve your service by working with the local operations people at your carrier’s local pick-up terminal and ask if they would like to pick up your shipments on the Saturdays and or Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This may give them some additional flexibility with man-hours, but you may be asked to modify your label to reflect that the shipment was actually tendered on the following business day. Many have found that in so doing, they can free up space on their dock during the busy season and put their transactions in motion a day or two sooner than the usual weekend operation. This is why it’s vitally important to keep a good working relationship with your local ops management. And if they do accommodate you, don’t forget to thank them after the rush is over.

Wishing you and yours a happy and prosperous holiday shipping season.

Jerry Hempstead, otherwise known as “Mr. Parcel” due to his decades of experience in the industry, can be reached at