Are you at risk of missing Christmas postal deadlines?

For months now, leading retailers have been warning customers of postage delays leading up to Christmas. So if you’ve left it this late, you’re really taking a gamble.

With parcel volumes already setting records this year, December is tipped to surpass last year’s 52 million parcels.

Australia Post executive general manager Gary Starr said preparations for the peak season were well under way, including the recruitment of more than 4000 Christmas casuals.

“We’re seeing record parcel volumes with more than 5.9 million households shopping online a month – that’s more than half of all Australian households, and it’s showing no signs of slowing as we head into the online sales season and Christmas,” says Mr Starr.

There will be extra air freight capacity, weekend deliveries and thousands of new staff to ramp up delivery services and parcel sorting with deliveries arriving right up until Christmas Eve.

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In theory, parcels posted by 13 December for Parcel Post or 20 December for Express Post should reach their destination in time for Christmas.

However, for many locations, including Perth, Darwin and others outside of metro areas, it’s recommended parcels be sent earlier with customers advised to check the Australia Post website.

Christmas cards should be sent by 16 December, and customers sending overseas are encouraged to do so as soon as possible as cut-off dates vary depending on the destination.

Christmas gift trends
Last year’s big Christmas gift trend was supporting small businesses and purchasing local and Australian-made gifts. It seems the trend is continuing this year.

A 2021 holiday trends report found that 72 per cent of respondents declared they are willing to pay more for locally made items when it comes to gifts. The same report found 51 per cent of Australian consumers plan to buy less but make bigger and more considerate holiday purchases for loved ones this year.

Grace Brennan, founder of Buy from the Bush, is a big supporter of these trends. “There are so many beautiful, unique gifts to discover from small businesses in the bush. All with a precious story of origin. The great joy of buying from the bush at Christmas is knowing the impact of your purchase. The gift you buy your loved one is also a gift to a small rural community. It generates cashflow, creates jobs and provides opportunity for growth,” says Ms Brennan.

Read: Read this before buying candles for Christmas

Alternative ways to give gifts
Christmas falls on the same day every single year, yet somehow it always manages to appear out of nowhere. If you’ve missed the postage deadlines, here are some other options to consider.

Send an ecard. Or make time for a video call on Christmas morning to say a personalised Merry Christmas.

Give the gift of a houseplant… nobody needs to know you’ve just taken a cutting of your favourite plant and popped a bow around the pot.

Regift an unused present that you received last year. Just make sure you’re not giving it back to the person who gave you the item.

Purchase a yearly subscription to a streaming service, magazine or wine box.

Buy a gift card. Some people think gift cards are impersonal, but you just have to tailor them to the recipient. Know someone who loves make-up? They’d probably be stoked with a Sephora gift card. Have a friend who adores baths? A Lush gift card may light up their day.

Send an ebook or audiobook. If your loved one is a reader and owns a kindle or device for listening to audiobooks, sending them your favourite book is a way to share something personal without something physical. 

Consider buying experiences. Not only do these gifts not require posting, but they also give the recipient something to look forward to after the holiday season.

Make, bake or create. I’m a big fan of whipping up a large batch of homemade Baileys Irish cream, popping it into fancy bottles and gifts are sorted.

Check delivery times and return policies
Remember to double-check delivery times before buying anything online. Generic delivery times on websites are a good start, but if you have any doubts, pick up the phone or send an email to see if they can guarantee that your order will reach you on time.

Read: Last minute Christmas shopping? Get paid to do it

It’s also worth reading over the return policy. Some stores will extend the refund timeframe over the holiday period.

One final thing to check is that the store you’re purchasing from is really in Australia. Some stores look like they are but on closer inspection, you’ll find they ship items from overseas.

Buying from overseas stores and trying to organise a refund or swap after Christmas might not be possible. So think carefully before you buy.

Have you completed your Christmas shopping for this year? What’s on your Christmas list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Ellie Baxter