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2013 holiday shipping guide: When to send packages so they arrive by Christmas

Monday - 11/18/2013, 9:37am  ET

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WASHINGTON - Holiday shipping deadlines are fast approaching -- especially for the least expensive deliveries scheduled to arrive before Christmas.

To avoid paying extra for packages sent via the United States Postal Service, they should be in the system by Dec. 14 to arrive before Dec. 25. There is a back-up plan for procrastinators: USPS promises packages shipped with Priority Mail Express Service by Dec. 23 will arrive before Christmas.

For those buying items from Amazon, the free regular shipping no longer applies as of Dec. 18. Amazon shoppers who are not Prime Members and seeking the free delivery option, should place orders by Dec. 17 so they arrive before Christmas.

Also, Dec. 17 is the cutoff date for the least expensive shipping through FedEx for deliveries to arrive before Christmas.

For UPS, second day air packages mailed Dec. 20 will arrive Christmas Eve.

To send gifts to overseas military members so that they arrive before Dec. 25, put priority and first-class letters and cards in the mail by Dec. 11. It's too late now to get packages in the mail for overseas military members so that they arrive before Christmas.

People who need to get Hanukkah gifts in the mail need to get busy now. Hanukkah 2013 begins in the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 27 and ends in the evening of Thursday, Dec. 5.

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