Few things are more disappointing during the holiday season than packages that don’t arrive for your friends and relatives on time. Gift-givers will want to pay attention to holiday shipping deadlines by the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Express and UPS.

If you’re shipping to far-flung friends and family members in the military or living abroad, the first deadline to ensure cards and packages get there on time is looming.

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The Post Office expects to deliver nearly 15 billion pieces of mail and 900 million packages through New Year’s Day and is expanding its Sunday delivery service in most major cities. About 8 million packages will be delivered on Sundays this December.

If you’re shipping from the Post Office, the busiest time for holiday shipping is now two weeks before Christmas. Starting the week of Dec. 10, customer traffic is expected to increase, and the Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 200 million packages per week during these two weeks. The week of Dec. 17-23 is predicted to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week, when nearly 3 billion pieces of First-Class Mail, including greeting cards, will be processed and delivered.

A new service, Informed Delivery, is also available in most metropolitan areas. It provides a digital preview of what’s coming to your mailbox, and allows you to manage your packages, peek at the cards that are headed your way and see the exterior images of magazines and catalogs, all from a mobile app, dashboard, tablet or computer.

Here are all the deadlines you need to keep in mind:

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U.S. Postal Service
Dec. 14: USPS Retail Ground
Dec. 20: First Class Mail, Priority Mail
Dec. 22: Priority Mail Express

Dec. 1: First-Class Package International Service and Priority Mail International
Dec. 8: Priority Mail Express International
Dec. 19: Global Express Guaranteed

Dec. 4: Parcel Airlift Mail
Dec. 11: Priority Mail; First Class Mail (cards and letters)
Dec. 18: Priority Mail Express Military Service

For more information on mailing cards and packages to the troops, go here. You can also order flat-rate boxes featuring the “America Supports You” logo here.

Click here to continue.

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