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The holiday season is upon us. Whether you’re shipping gifts direct from Amazon or another online retailer or shipping gift boxes yourself, you have some important deadlines that are fast approaching. The combination of the holiday crisis and COVID-induced supply chain challenges means that waiting until the last minute to shop and ship in 2020 is an even riskier proposition than previous years.
Read more: CNET’s Christmas Gift Guide: Gifts They’ll Love, For Any Budget.
Christmas falls on a Friday this year, which means that your packages must be at their destination on Thursday, December 24. We have completed closing dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery from postal services such as USPS, UPS and FedEx, and retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy and Target. Keep in mind that if you are in Alaska or Hawaii the dates will likely be earlier and you will need to click to each company’s website for more information.
If you are shipping via USPS, you must ship your packages on the following dates to ensure they arrive by December 25th. USPS will deliver the mail as usual on Thursday, December 24, but no mail will be delivered on Friday, December 25.
- Tuesday December 15: USPS Retail Ground
- Friday December 18: First class mail
- Saturday December 19: Priority Mail
- Wednesday December 23: Priority Mail Express service
If you are shipping via FedEx, you must ship your packages on the following dates to ensure they arrive on time. Some FedEx services – FedEx SameDay, FedEx SameDay City Priority and FedEx SameDay City Direct – deliver on Christmas Day, but only in select cities and at a hefty fee.
- Tuesday, Dec. 15: Ground
- Monday December 21: Express Saver
- Tuesday December 22: Two days
- Wednesday December 23: ‘At night
- Friday December 25: FedEx SameDay
If you ship via UPS, you must ship your packages on the following dates to ensure they arrive by December 25th.
- Monday December 21: Select UPS 3 days
- Tuesday December 22: 2nd day air
- Wednesday December 23: Air next day
Order gifts online? These are the shipping times to meet for some popular online retailers. Order before these dates to ensure you receive your packages by Thursday December 24th.
Amazon hasn’t announced its holiday deadlines for 2020, but if past years are any indication, here are your deadlines for this year:
- Monday December 14: standard delivery
- Tuesday December 22: Shipping within two days (free with Prime)
- Wednesday December 23: Shipment within one day
Apple vacation deadlines vary by product. For example, you can order most iPhones and all Apple Watches until December 22nd. Today (Friday, December 11) is the last day to order an iPad Pro or iPad Air, and the new iPad has already been ordered back until January. Most Mac deadlines have passed, but there is still time to order engraved AirPods.
More info here.
Best Buy hasn’t revealed holiday shipping deadlines yet, but again, if past years are any indication, these are your 2020 deadlines:
- Friday December 18: Large home delivery items (appliances and TVs larger than 51 inches)
- Monday December 21: Most items ship within two days
- Thursday December 24, 12 noon local time: Same day shipping (select areas and products)
- Thursday, December 24, before 4 p.m. local time: In-store pickup (most stores close at 6pm on December 24)
The following shipping times apply to orders placed and approved before 3 p.m. ET:
- Tuesday, Dec. 15: standard delivery
- Thursday December 17: Expedited Shipping
- Monday December 21: Express shipping
More info here.
It would be wise not to wait until the last minute to order Christmas gifts from Target this year. The retailer has suspended free shipping within two days and now gives the vague guideline that most packages arrive within one to two days of the estimated delivery date. You still get free standard shipping on select items to select zip codes on orders over $ 35. Target’s standard shipping usually arrives in three to five business days, but it can take two more days for your package to arrive at its destination It’s a good idea to play it safe and expect it to take seven business days for your package to arrive. So if you order before December 15th and your order ships on December 16th, seven business days means the order must arrive by December 24th.
- Tuesday December 15: standard delivery
More info here.
Like Target, Walmart offers free two-day shipping on select orders over $ 35 and free three- to five-day shipping on most orders over $ 35. Unlike Target, Walmart maintains its two-day shipping for the holidays. You must order before 2 p.m. ET for the clock to start on shipping times. Walmart hasn’t announced holiday deadlines, but here are some safe dates to make sure your package arrives on Christmas Eve.
- Thursday December 17: Ships within five days
- Sunday December 20: Shipment within two days
More info here.
More coverage for holiday gifts