Time is running out to get holiday packages shipped

Posted at 4:35 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 10:22:38-05

GREAT FALLS — If you haven’t gotten your holiday packages mailed yet, you’re running out of time. “It’s unprecedented,” Great Falls Post Office Officer in Charge Jason Newman said of the 2020 holiday season.

The 2020 holiday shipping season is unlike any Newman has experienced in his 25 years with the postal service. "I have never seen a season with the kind of volume that we're experiencing right now,” said Newman.

COVID, election mail, and an increase in online shopping have created what he calls a triple whammy for the postal service this year, especially for the mail carriers. "They are tired. A lot of them have been working their non-scheduled days, so some of them have been working straight through the week,” Newman said.

The first Christmas deadline is December 18. "First class letters and express that are going to military instalations, APO or FPO addresses, need to be in by the 18th. Priority, which is our standard mailing that we have, that needs to be in by the 19th and then any express mail, which is our priority express product, December 23rd is when we need to have that in,” Newman explained.

Great Falls resident Miranda Mcaflin was in the post office Wednesday mailing a package. She said she normally has all her holiday mailing done by the end of November. "I just kept getting busy and didn't get it out in time,” Mcaflin said. “I already talked to my mom, and that's who it's going to, so that just stresses Christmas out."

One tip, Newman said, is the post office's self-serve kiosk. "If you're using a debit or a credit card, you can buy stamps, you can mail parcels, you can do just about anything you can do at the window,” said Newman.

So, what are you waiting for? Get those letters and packages in the mail. Newman expected the postal service to continue to be busier than normal after the holidays and said changes are being made to become more of a parcel delivery service instead of just a mail delivery service.

Here is a list of shipping deadlines based on method; go ahead and circle dates on the calendar, set reminders, etc.

United States Postal Service (USPS):

  • Ground - Deadline: December 15
  • First Class - Deadline: December 18
  • Priority Mail - Deadline: December 19
  • Priority Mail Express - Deadline: December 23


  • FedEx SmartPost - Deadline: December 9 (with some exceptions)
  • FedEx Ground - Deadline: December 15
  • Home Delivery - Deadline: December 15
  • Express Saver - Deadline: December 21
  • 2Day Services - Deadline: December 22
  • Overnight Services - Deadline: December 23


  • UPS Ground - Deadline: December 15
  • 3 Day Select - Deadline: December 21
  • 2nd Day Air Services - Deadline: December 22
  • Next Day Air Services - December 23

Amazon (estimates based on last year’s deadlines):

  • Standard shipping - Deadline: December 18
  • Prime Free 2-day - Deadline: December 21
  • Prime Free 1-day - Deadline: December 23
  • Prime Same Day - Deadline: December 24
  • Prime Now 2-Hour Delivery - Deadline: December 24