Getting packages to your recipients before Christmas can be a very costly undertaking. Because Ground service standards vary, many shippers
resort to using Express/Air services like Next Day Air or 2 Day in order to ensure delivery by Christmas Day. 

Many software packages allow shippers to pick the best service that meets the commitment, while minimizing cost. If you don’t have one of
these rate shopping or fulfillment packages, you can still minimize your cost by creating a fulfillment table by date for your employees. 

A quick look on the carrier websites and a little research can pay off by maximizing the use of Ground or the lowest cost Express service to get
your package there in time. 

First, find out the Ground standards by going to the UPS and/or FedEx website(s). On UPS, you can go to Shipping-Calculate Time and CostGround
Maps (FedEx has a similar tool, Ship-Get Rates & Transit Times-Ground Transit Maps). These tools allow you to type in your origin ZIP Code and create a quick map for your fulfillment employees.
Both FedEx and UPS will deliver up to Christmas Eve, December 24th. The longest Lower 48 Ground service standard is six days. The last pickup/ship
date for these packages will be Monday December 23rd.
After that point, the service standards will dictate whether the package will get there by Christmas. The table below shows the last day to ship each service within the Lower 48. For Ground services, the last day to ship is determined by the service standard for that area. You can use the free maps described above to determine that standard. (Note: If there is a question of what service standard is shown, use the Get Rates & Transit Times tool to plug in your specific origin and destination pair, or ask your service representative for a full listing by zip). After the last pick-up day indicated has expired, then use the next service level down.
As an example: a shipper is preparing a package going from Charlotte, NC to Portland, OR on Tuesday, December 17th. The FedEx Ground service
standard for this origin/destination is five days. FedEx Home Delivery will still make it in time for a Christmas Eve delivery.
Another example: a shipper is shipping a package from Charlotte, NC to Los Angeles, CA on Thursday December 19th. The UPS Ground service
standard is four days for this origin destination. UPS Ground will not make it, as the last day to ship a four-day transit package was Wednesday,
December 18th.
However, UPS 3 Day Select can still be used to minimize cost and get it there by Christmas Eve. 
In some cases, the least cost service is not available to your recipient’s zip code. In these instances, most shipping systems will alert you that the
service is unavailable. Such is the case with some areas for Standard Overnight on FedEx. Only when Standard is unavailable would you need to
use Priority Overnight to be received by Christmas Eve. 
Understanding and mapping out these service standards can save thousands in shipping for last minute packages by Christmas.
Mark Taylor can be reached at