When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.
Finding the perfect gift for everyone in your life is rarely an easy process (thankfully, we have tons of gift guides to help you out), but it's not over once you finally pick something out. You need to make sure it actually arrives in time — especially with the added difficulty of long-distance gatherings and mailing gifts to loved ones.
In true 2020 fashion, expected shipping dates are unpredictable, and retailers and shipping services are announcing earlier deadlines than ever if they announce any at all.
If you want to receive your gifts by Christmas, these are the dates, times, and shipping options you should know. Order arrival dates are much less predictable than they have been in years past, so keep a close eye on your estimated shipping date at checkout. Most retailers are using December 11 as a hard cut-off date to order by, and you'll need to ship by December 15 if you're using a shipping service. Long story short, order and ship your gifts as soon as possible.
The good news is that if time gets away from you, many of the major retailers offer buy online, pick up in-store options, which let you bypass the holiday shipping delays and grab your gifts as early as the same day you ordered them. The stores that have this policy are noted below.
Apple's delivery deadlines depend heavily on stock, but you can order some items, like the iPhone 12 mini and Apple Watch Series 6, as late as December 22. For a detailed list of deadlines for everything in Apple's lineup, check out the holiday shipping deadline list here.
If you've passed the "Order By" date on an item you want, Apple also offers same-day scheduled courier delivery and Apple Store pickup that may help you get exactly what you need before Christmas.
Amazon hasn't dropped an official holiday shipping deadline list for this year. If you want to play it safe, shop with the assumption that December 11 is the last day to buy — though Amazon does provide a note next to the "Add to Cart" button if a specific item will arrive before Christmas, if you're signed in while browsing.
For risk-takers cutting it close to the day of, you might want to try taking advantage of Prime 2-day shipping or Same day shipping in select cities, which means you can order as late as December 23.
Though Best Buy has yet to announce official holiday shipping deadlines, it's best to assume it has similar cut-off dates to other major retailers. For standard shipping, try not to order any later than December 11; if you're in a pinch close to Christmas, you can try Next Day shipping or One-Hour Store Pickup. Using one of these two services, you may be able to place an order on December 23 and still receive it in time.
Another retailer without an official shipping deadline list, Home Depot is one you'll want to play it safe with when shopping. With standard shipping, we don't recommend ordering any later than December 11 — though services like Free 2-Day Delivery and Free In-Store Pickup mean you can potentially order as late as December 23 to get your orders in time for Christmas.
To get your order in time from Kohl's, you'll need to order very soon. Luckily, you can take advantage of its fast and free store pickup, in which you can get your order in 2 hours or less.
- December 11: Standard shipping (order by 1 p.m. local time)
- Buy online, pick up in store: Yes, order by 7 p.m. local time
With options including free store pickup, shipping to your home, and scheduled truck delivery, you can still find a way to get your Lowe's order even if you don't meet the deadline.
- December 10: Standard shipping (order by noon ET)
- Buy online, pick up in store: Yes
If you're hoping to use free shipping from Patagonia (free with orders over $49), you'll need to order by December 11. Faster shipping methods will cost you anywhere from $9 to $29.
Similar to other major retailers this holiday season, Target hasn't released an official holiday shipping deadline schedule. Our advice is to play it save and place any orders before December 11 if you're opting for standard shipping at checkout. Otherwise, options like Same Day Delivery with Shipt or in-store pickup may be a better option if you're cutting it close to Christmas.
If you're trying to buy online from Walmart and get your order before Christmas, we recommend shopping no later than December 11 if you're using standard shipping. For risk-takers shopping closer to the day of, options like Next Day Delivery and in-store pickup mean you can potentially shop as late as December 23, if you're in an eligible area.
DHL has yet to release an official calendar of shipping deadlines for 2020, but it's probably safe to assume a cut-off of December 15 for all of its domestic shipping services. Shipping internationally is trickier, but you can get a rate and time quote for your specific shipment here.
Of the shipping services, FedEx offers the most options for you to get your package delivered, with options even available on Christmas Day. Deadlines listed below are exclusive to the US.
- December 9: FedEx SmartPost
- December 15: FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Ground
- December 21: FedEx Express Saver, 3Day Freight
- December 22: FedEx 2Day, 2Day A.M., 2Day Freight
- December 23: FedEx 1Day Freight, Extra hours, Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, First Overnight
- December 25: FedEx SameDay, SameDay City Priority, SameDay City Direct
With the options listed below, you can ship as late as December 23 using UPS. UPS stores are closed on Christmas Day, but you can still look into UPS Express Critical service if you're in dire need.
- December 15: UPS Ground
- December 21: UPS 3 Day Select
- December 22: UPS 2nd Day Air
- December 23: UPS Next Day Air
With USPS, it's as easy as getting shipping supplies online or from your local post office, printing shipping labels, and dropping off your package or scheduling a pickup. Post office locations might have varying hours as we get closer to Christmas Day, so save yourself the hassle and check if your location is open here.
- December 15: USPS Retail Ground
- December 18: First-Class Mail
- December 19: Priority Mail
- December 23: Priority Mail Express