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Christmas shipping cutoff dates fast approaching

Don’t panic, you still have some time, but you really need to be thinking about ordering your holiday gifts. We said don’t panic! We know it’s hard. It’s a lot of stress and money, but there are important deadlines coming up and we don’t want you to miss them.

These deadlines are for mailing gifts. Whether you send them yourself, or have them sent directly to their recipients, these deliveries have firm cutoff dates. Don’t risk a package arriving after the holidays.

We’ve provided deadlines for popular online stores and mail services, and some tips and tricks for sending gifts this time of year. Tap or click to learn how to keep your gifts a secret when ordering online. But be careful not to put off shopping for too long, some deadlines are fast approaching.

For those buying and shipping in one go, or just buying online

If you’re hoping to purchase most of your gifts from Amazon, or a store’s website, to give yourself more options than the local branch’s inventory. Pay attention to the list in this section.

However you’re buying and sending gifts, make sure you place your order by the deadline or things may not reach their destinations until January.

These websites all have different deadlines for their various shipping options. So to keep shipping costs down, or to make sure you’re able make some last-minute purchases if need-be, plan ahead. Here’s our shipping deadline list for the 2019 holiday season:

Store Free Shipping Deadline Standard Shipping Deadline (3-5 business days; cheapest) Two-Day Shipping Deadline One-Day Shipping Deadline Same-Day Delivery Deadline
Amazon Saturday, Dec. 14
(5-8 business days)
Wednesday, Dec. 18 Sunday, Dec. 22Monday, Dec. 23Tuesday, Dec. 24 (in select areas)
Walmart N/A Tuesday, Dec. 17Friday, Dec. 20
(not available for AK and HI)
Monday, Dec. 23 N/A
Target N/A Tuesday, Dec. 17Friday, Dec. 20Monday, Dec. 23 N/A
Apple Friday, Dec. 20 (by 5pm local time; 2-day shipping) N/A See Free Shipping Deadline Monday, Dec. 23 (for iPhone) Monday, Dec. 23 (two-hour $9 delivery)
Tuesday, Dec. 24 (in-store pickup for one hour)
Dell (All orders must be processed by 3pm EST) N/A Monday, Dec. 9
(for 70” TVs and Monitors)
Thursday, Dec. 12
(for 55”- 69” TVs and Monitors)
NOTE: TVs and Monitors arrive on Dec. 23
Everything else arrives Monday, Dec. 16
Thursday, Dec. 19 (not available for AK and HI) Friday, Dec. 20
(not available for AK and HI)
N/A
Best Buy N/A Tuesday, Dec. 17Friday, Dec. 20 Monday, Dec. 23
(before 3 p.m.)
Tuesday, Dec. 24 (store pickup)
Macy’s   Friday, Dec. 20
(by 5 p.m. ET) Standard shipping time is 2 days
See Standard Shipping Deadline. Friday, Dec. 20
(by 5 p.m. ET) for Premium shipping
Monday, Dec. 23
(by 5 p.m. ET)
Tuesday, Dec. 24
(by 10 a.m. local time for delivery. By 12 p.m. local for store pickup. By 1 p.m. ET for e-gift cards)
Lululemon All shipping is free during the holiday season Thursday, Dec. 12
(2-7 business days)
Thursday, Dec. 19
(could be 3 business days, not 2)
Sunday, Dec. 22
(by 10 p.m. PST to get it on Dec. 24. Shipping will be free)
N/A
Kohl’s N/A Tuesday, Dec. 17
(by 11 p.m. CST)
Friday, December 20th, 2019 (by 2 p.m. CST) Monday, Dec. 23
(by 1 p.m. CST)
N/A

Many stores offer free shipping if you spend a certain dollar amount. If you’re not sure what that amount is, we’ve got you covered.

Here is a list of popular stores and how much you have to spend to get free shipping:

Store Order value to get free shipping
Amazon Over $25 (unless you have Prime, then you get free 2-day shipping.)
Walmart Over $35
Target Over $35 if you’re a REDcard member.
Apple For items in-stock, 2-day shipping is free. iPhones can get free one-day shipping
Dell Any order value for holiday period
Best Buy Any order value for holiday period
Macy’s Over $99
Lululemon Any order value for holiday period
Kohl’s Over $50

For those shipping things themselves

Planning to mail Christmas cards or store-bought gifts to loved ones out of town? Maybe you like to make gifts by hand and send them out via U.S.P.S. or UPS.

Mail carriers have holiday deadlines too, and we have them in the list below:

Carrier Ground/Standard Express (1-3 business days) Overnight Same Day Delivery
USPS Saturday, Dec. 14Friday, Dec. 20 (for First Class Mail/letter mail, for AK and HI, Wednesday, Dec. 18)
Saturday, Dec. 21 (for Priority Mail/flat rate packages, for AK and HI, Thursday, Dec. 19)
Monday, Dec. 23 (for AK and HI, Saturday, December 21) N/A
UPS Friday, Dec. 13Thursday, Dec. 19 (for UPS 3 Day Select)
Friday, Dec. 20 (for UPS 2nd Day Air)
Monday, Dec. 23Tuesday, Dec. 24 (for pickup of Air shipments only if prearranged by Thursday, Dec. 19)
UPS Express Critical services available.
FedEx Monday, December 16th, 2019 Thursday, Dec. 19 (for FedEx 3-Day Freight and FedEx Express Saver)
Friday, Dec. 20 (for FedEx 2-Day and 2-Day AM)
Saturday, Dec. 21 (for FedEx 2-Day Freight)
Monday, Dec. 23Wednesday, Dec. 25

You can also ship through DHL for the holidays, but since it’s a Belgian company specializing in international shipping, the service schedule might be different depending where you live.

Ask what the deadlines are at your local DHL store if you’re hoping to use them this season.

Tips and tricks for holiday gift-mailing

Plan

The closer you get to the holidays, the crazier post offices and shipping stores will be. Many people try to ship gifts at the last minute, which backs up deliveries. Similarly, online shopping sites struggle to get their packages delivered, and they sell out of items as the gift-giving holidays draw near.

Try not to procrastinate. Plan to get your packages out as far from the deadlines as you can. It’s better to have gifts waiting on your, or someone else’s, porch than be back ordered and late.

Speaking of back orders, that could become an issue for you if you do any online shopping. If you’re nervous about this, make sure you at least have a card to hand the intended recipient (you can explain the situation inside).

Consider having some holiday candy or a baked good to go with the card. You’ll feel better than showing up empty-handed, and the other person can have something to look forward to as they wait for their package to arrive.

How to mail perishable items

If you plan on mailing a perishable gift this year, ship it during the first half of the week. This will ensure they arrive before the weekend and will keep them from sitting in a bin until Monday. You may also need to package them with dry ice, frozen gel packs or other heating or cooling agents.

For more assistance in how to ship perishable items, visit UPS’ guide on how to ship food.

Before sealing the package

It’s easy to wrap a gift and send it on its way through UPS, USPS or other delivery services, but if you don’t package it properly, the present can arrive broken.

Make sure to choose the right-size box and don’t over-stuff it. After wrapping it, give the package a shake. If you can feel or hear items moving around, add more stuffing (think tissue paper, bubble wrap, etc.).

If there are multiple items in a single box, wrap them individually and tape them together before padding the box with newspaper, bubble wrap, or even shredded newspapers or documents. This keeps them from bumping against each other in transit.

Before mailing your package, don’t forget to tape along all the seams to keep it from opening or becoming damaged. Remember, it will be packed alongside other gifts, some of which may be oddly-shaped and could tear right at a seam.

Print online

Save yourself some time by printing your postage online. You can go to USPS.com to look up how to print the appropriate label for the U.S. Post Office, and other delivery services also offer online printing.

If you print the postage before arriving at the delivery site, you can bypass the line and simply drop your packages off.

This is a stressful time of year, but it doesn’t have to be. Stay calm and order before the deadlines. And remember, the sooner items are ordered, the cheaper shipping will be. Shop smart this year and have a wonderful holiday with gifts galore!

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