2013 Christmas holiday mail delivery deadlines

What's the deadline to ensure your holiday mail is delivered on time? (Photo by Thinkstock)Whether it's a festive greeting card, a box of cookies, or something more – if you're planning to mail holiday items to friends and family this year, here are some important dates to keep in mind to ensure they arrive on time.

Holiday Cards

Given their small size and relatively simple delivery needs, holidays cards are the least pressing items when it comes to delivery date deadlines. Canada Post suggests out-of-province cards be mailed by December 17, in-province cards by Dec. 18, and local cards by Dec. 19. The cut-off for most international deadlines is Dec. 6, with the exceptions of Africa by November 22 and the United States by Dec. 13.

Also see: How to give without breaking the bank

Holiday Packages

Whether near or far, sometimes you can't be with loved ones on the big day but would still like to send them a little something. Depending on what speed of service you're willing to shell out for, Canada Post recommends Canadian parcels should be sent as early as Dec. 11, and as late as Dec. 23. International destinations have varying deadlines from back in October with standard delivery, to cutoffs as late as Dec. 18 and 19 for the rest of the world with Priority Worldwide service.

If you can't get to a postal outlet or prefer another shipping method, FedEx Canada is able to ship via their express service to the United States and Canada up until Dec. 23, with international cut-offs as early as Dec. 18. Cut-off for ground service within Canada ranges from Dec. 13-23. UPS Canada offers pickup until Dec 23, and will deliver right up until Dec. 24, with same-day urgent shipping also available, even on Christmas Day. See their site for conditions and service guarantees.

Keep in mind that the longer you wait to send that gift, the more you'll pay for expedited service.

Also see: How to get glowing skin for the holidays

Online Retailers

If you're one of those people who prefer to do all their holiday shopping online, keep in mind that many retailers have different shipping guideline cutoffs. For example, Amazon.ca will ship orders placed up until Dec. 21 to urban centres like Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, but remote areas have a cutoff of Dec. 15. Indigo's standard free shipping deadline is Dec. 10 for all of Canada, with in-store pickup orders cut off Dec. 15. You can still get next day delivery in most major urban centres until Dec 22.

Be sure to check a store's holiday shipping policy before paying for an order if you're unsure it will arrive in time.