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2021 Holiday Mail Best Practices

Expect Holiday Delivery Delays

We can't stress this enough this year.  Holiday mailing and shipping are going to take much longer than in past years so plan for delays.  The U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS released (and revised) their recommended ship-by dates for gifts to be delivered in time for Christmas. The December 25th holiday, which lands on a Saturday this year, will require you to use your coordination skills to ensure gifts arrive on time. Here is our annual report and the list of crucial dates to ensure your items arrive on time.

Cards and Annual Appeals

The US Postal Service began slowing mail delivery mid-2021 as part of a broad cost-cutting strategy. So extra planning on your part will be necessary, particularly if your organization is ending the year with a fund drive by mail.  Here are the top 3 things you need to be aware of before sending your year-end mailings.


Not all classes of mail are treated equally.  This is particularly important if your message is time-sensitive in nature. Marketing Mail (aka - Standard, Bulk, or NonProfit) is the last class in line to be handled. During high volume times of the year, this mail class can also be shipped to less busy mail processors, or put in a corner and left for later.  See the chart below for more details on USPS Classes.


We know that a hand-addressed and stamped letter gives your mail that personal touch.  But if you are sending more than 200 letters you will save time and money by letting us print the addresses and presort the mail.  This is a little like getting a head start in the mailing game.  Instead of your letters running through the scanners with everything picked up at the retail locations, your mail will bypass that step and enter the mail stream ready to go.


Typically we would tell you to get creative, but for this time of year sticking with standard sizes and materials will help you and your mail carrier out.  Odd-sized letters and packages are handled differently than the rest.  Envelopes that are hard to read or handle are also at a higher risk of delay.  You can still be creative just play within the rules.  Need any ideas for your holiday mail? Give us a shout! Once you've chosen your mailing method, determine what date you would like your letter to arrive and count backward.  At AlphaGraphics Kansas City, we recommend that Christmas Cards enter the mail stream no later than December 15th, 2021 to ensure delivery before December 25th. We've listed other key dates at the end of this blog for other winter holidays.
Class of Mail Mail or Package Cost Forwarding & Returns Extra Services  Delivery Timelines
Priority Mail Express Both $$$$ Yes Yes  1 - 2 days
Priority Mail Both $$$ Yes Yes  2 - 3 days
First-Class Mail Mail $$ Yes Yes  1 - 5 days
Marketing Mail / Standard or NonProfit Mail $ No Only for parcels  3 - 14+ days
First-Class Package Package $$ Yes Yes  1 - 3 days
Package Services / USPS Retail Ground Package $ No Yes  3 - 8 days

Pouches, Packages, and Parcels

Supply chain snags are slowing deliveries to manufacturers, retail stores, and home doorsteps. We are finding our production schedules expanding right now too. Delays in the delivery of the materials we use, combined with longer lead times from our partners and vendors mean your order may take longer to produce. So, even if you have already started thinking about holiday gifts you may still want to order earlier than usual. To ensure that your packages arrive on time here are your deadlines for the United States.


Service Shipping Cutoff Date
Retail Ground™ Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
First Class Mail® Friday, December 17th, 2021
Priority Mail® Saturday, December 18th, 2021
Priority Mail Express® Thursday, December 23rd, 2021


 Service Shipping Cutoff Date
FedEx SmartPost® Thursday, December 9th, 2021 (with exceptions)
FedEx Ground® Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
Home Delivery® Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
Express Saver® Tuesday, December 21st, 2021
2Day® Services Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021
Overnight® Services Thursday, December 23rd, 2021


 Service Shipping Cutoff Date
Ground® December 15th, 2021 & Check
3 Day Select® Tuesday, December 21st, 2021
2nd Day Air® Services Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021
Next-Day Air® Services Thursday, December 23rd, 2021
REMEMBER! These are estimated dates and don't account for additional delays created by weather, illness, staffing, or other unforeseen issues.  Due to the high volumes, most shippers who have guarantees of delivery are not honoring those guarantees.  So even if you plan for a next-day delivery there is no promise that it will happen.

Other Holidays to Note

Thanksgiving - November 25th, 2021, Mail cards by November 19th Hanukkah - November 29th, 2021, Mail cards by November 22nd Kwanzaa - December 26th, 2021, Mail cards by December 20th New Year's Eve - December 31st, 2021, Mail cards by December 27th

About AlphaGraphics Kansas City

Located in the creative Crossroads Arts District, AlphaGraphics Kansas City is a certified Women-Owned business that specializes in helping Kansas City businesses solve marketing problems. The printing company’s production specialties include G7 Certified digital color and large format printing.

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