Holiday Prep 2021: Shipping Deadlines and Supplies

holidays Oct 24, 2021

 Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


As usual, October is flying by and before you know it we’ll all be wrapping gifts and watching Elf a million times!



The tide definitely turned toward online shopping last year and will continue this holiday season. Hopefully by now you’ve solidified your marketing plan and have a good idea of how much inventory you’ll need. Maybe you’ve even taken holiday photos of your products - go you!


Now is the time to make sure you understand what’s happening with shipping this holiday season, and this includes ordering supplies (since shipping applies to the supplies you're receiving as well as the products you're shipping out to customers).

This year the postal service has continued to struggle, going so far as to intentionally slow down first class mail. Add their now traditional “holiday fee hike” and small sellers are feeling the pinch once again, both in time and money.


While we can’t control these changes, we can create a system to help us navigate through the busy shopping season.

Time to Stock Up on Your Supplies


I’m sure you’ve heard about the thousands of shipping containers waiting in the ocean to be delivered. The supply chain is strained to the max, and many things are taking much longer to arrive.  I dare to say it might be too late for ordering even now, but if you haven’t ordered your supplies for the holidays, now is definitely the time.



At the beginning of this month we talked about your production schedule, and this included deciding how much of each product you will need to make for the holidays. This information will help you figure out your order quantities for your supplies.

As far as shipping supplies, try to see how you can make this process as simple as possible. If you’re using different sized boxes for different products, can you consolidate them so you’re using the same size? This will allow you to order more of the same supply.


Ordering in bulk is both a time and money saver. The good thing is these types of supplies never expire! And if you don’t need that many, maybe you can team up with a fellow creator and split the order.


Of course if you use USPS Priority Mail, you can get your shipping supplies for free. But again - order in bulk and order early.

Determine Your Shipping Deadlines and Start Communicating Them to Customers


With the state of shipping today, plan on pushing back your shipping deadlines by a few days. This is the date you will give your customers as the last day to order if they want their items by Christmas.


Each year the US Post Office releases their deadlines. This year they are:


  • ​​USPS Retail Ground: December 15, 2021


  • USPS First Class Mail: December 17, 2021


  • USPS Priority Mail: December 18, 2021


  • USPS Priority Mail Express: December 23, 2021


(Alaska, Hawaii, and International dates are earlier…)


UPS and FedEx have similar time tables.

I strongly suggest adding on at least one week to these times, meaning that you should have all of your items actually in the mail one week prior to the suggested deadline. Then, then factor in your own schedule:


  • The time it takes you to make your product.


  • Time to pull and pack the order.


  • Time for you to get the package to the Post Office.


Start adding your ordering deadlines to your website, Etsy shop, and wherever else your customers are shopping. 


Say it often and repeatedly! Customers are notorious for not reading this important information, so the more you say it, the better.

As we move closer to the holiday season, you might need to ask a question or get advice. Come and join my Free Facebook group, made just for handmade sellers like you!


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