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Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy shopping: Today's your last day to ship gifts in time for Christmas

If you haven't bought all your presents yet, don't waste another minute.

 amazon-delivery-box-3664

You'd better hurry.

Angela Lang/CNET
This story is part of Holiday Survival Guide 2019, featuring tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

If you're trying to ship a package from Amazon or another retailer with fast shipping, today's your last day to get guaranteed two-day shipping delivered by Christmas Eve. 

If you're going to be sending or receiving a package through any of the three major shipping services, the only options you have left for delivery ahead of Christmas are the most expensive next-day, overnight services.

You'd better get a move on. Now. We'll walk you through some last-minute gift ideas and your remaining shipping schedule. Let's go get you taken care of.

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Last-minute presents you can still buy

We won't sugar-coat it for you. Some of your choices might be limited -- popular items can run out of stock, and some just won't make it in time even if you make the cutoff, especially if you're buying through one of Amazon's third-party sellers.

Here's our roundup of last-minute holidays gifts you can still get in time for Christmas (some with killer deals).

If you're really tapped out on time and imagination, remember you can always give gift cards. Amazon has a wide range of gift cards available, some of which you don't even have to wait for shipping (they include a digital code you can print out yourself).

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Retail shipping deadlines you need to know

Earlier this year, Amazon made a big push to drop two-day shipping for Prime members down to just one day, which set off something of a shipping war with rival retailer WalmartBest Buy has gotten in on the next-day shipping action too, this year, saying the speedy service is available for up to 99% of Best Buy customers. 

This year, Amazon has an even more aggressive set of Christmas shipping deadlines than last December, helped in part by Christmas falling on a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday, as it did in 2018.

amazon-delivery-box-3643

Amazon's recent push to provide one-day shipping on many items means you can technically wait until Dec. 23 to order and still get your items in time to wrap them up for Christmas.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you're buying a Hanukkah gift, you'll have missed the first nights, but will still be able to ship presents before the holiday ends on Sunday, Dec. 29 (it begins tonight.)

Here's what that shopping schedule looks like.

Amazon shipping deadlines

Shipping speed Order by this date To get it by this date
Two-day (most items) Dec. 22 Dec. 24

Dec. 23 Dec. 25
Next-day (many items) Dec. 22 Dec. 23

Dec. 23 Dec. 24

Dec. 24 Dec. 25
Same-day ($35 minimum order) Day ordered Day ordered

Retailers such as WalmartTarget and Kohl's generally all have identical, and in some cases longer, shipping windows, depending on the items ordered. 

Best Buy is promising overnight delivery for 99% of customers, however if the item you want or the ZIP code you're shipping to doesn't allow for it, shipping times will likely mirror these as well. 

Ordering deadlines (that you haven't missed) for most online store (for the lower 48) are:

Most other retailers' shipping deadlines

Shipping speed Order by this date To get it by this date
Next-day ($35 minimum) Dec. 23 Dec. 24
In-store pickup Day ordered Day ordered

Deadlines for the big three shipping companies

If you'll be shipping gifts to loved ones yourself, or buying from merchants other than Amazon, such as those with stores on eBay, you'll need to know which services guarantee delivery by Christmas. 

Note that, in the case of orders from eBay or other retailers, these dates don't include handling time, so you may need to factor that in as well. 

Here are the published shipping deadlines (that you haven't missed) for the three biggest package couriers in the US, FedExUSPS and UPS in the lower 48 are:

FedEx shipping deadlines

Shipping speed Ship by this date For delivery by this date
Overnight Dec. 23 Dec. 24
Same Day Day ordered Day ordered
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USPS shipping deadlines

Shipping speed Ship by this date For delivery by this date
Priority Mail Express Dec. 22 Dec. 25

Dec. 24 Dec. 26

UPS shipping deadlines

Shipping speed Ship by this date For delivery by this date
Next Day Air Dec. 22 Dec. 25

Dec. 24 Dec. 26

Make a list and check it often (twice won't cut it)

'Tis the season of gift list-making, gift-wrapping and, of course, gift-giving. To make sure you don't leave anyone in the lurch this season, consider using an app to create your lists for maximum organization. 

For your gift list, make sure you consider everyone in your life, from family and friends to coworkers and others you see every day.

If you participate in any Secret Santa-style gift exchanges, you may not need to buy for everyone that you, for example, work with -- just be sure not to fall for any holiday-related scams, like the "Secret Sisters" gift exchange with strangers on Facebook. Be sure, too, to come up with a budget for everyone overall, as well as specific dollar amount for each category of recipient. 

When making a list of whom to gift this year, be sure to consider:

  • Family, both immediate and extended
  • Friends, but decide how big of a circle you want to include
  • Coworkers (check to see if you have a Secret Santa exchange before buying everyone a gift)
  • Your boss (check to see if your coworkers have organized a team gift)
  • Service professionals you interact with regularly (housekeepers, nannies, hairdressers, etc.)
  • Church or social organization members and leaders
  • Your children's education team (teachers, assistants, etc.)
  • Anyone you encounter regularly (banker, a favorite restaurant server, etc.)
  • Pets (maybe consider a subscription box for your dog?)

Deck the halls, the living room and the kitchen too

Nothing sets the holiday mood like decorations, but if you've been putting off dressing up your home in holiday garb, with only two more weekends before the major winter holidays, time is definitely running out. If you need some inspiration, here are seven apps to help you decorate for the holidayssix high-tech decorating ideas and five cheap ways to decorate your home for the holidays.  

The centerpiece of many indoor holiday scenes is the Christmas tree, and online retailers are there to help with that, too. This year, considering ordering a fresh-cut tree from Amazon. Both fresh cut and artificial trees are also available from Wayfair and a few other sellers, who also offer tree removal services for low-stress post-holiday cleanup.

Don't forget wrapping paper -- and tons of tape

It's easy to get wrapped up in shopping for gifts and forget the one holiday essential that makes giving (and getting) them so much fun -- wrapping paper! Here's a checklist of all the supplies you might need to give your gifts that extra little touch of holiday cheer:

  • Wrapping paper
  • Gift bags
  • Tissue paper (for filling gift bags and boxes)
  • Ribbons and bows
  • Cards and tags
  • Cellophane tape (like Scotch brand)
  • Individually wrapped, small candy

For other tips, tricks and help getting through the holidays, check out our Holiday Survival Guide 2019 for the latest in party planning, gift giving and other ways to destressify your holidays, including how to clean your shower head before holiday guests arrive (no elbow grease required)apps for managing holiday stress and tips on finding the perfect host and hostess gifts for all those holiday parties you still have to attend.

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The deadline for Dec. 24 delivery on USPS Priority Mail is Dec. 21 this year.

USPS

Originally published earlier this month.