Holiday Shipping Deadlines to Keep in Mind

With so many of my readers looking for last-minute gift ideas, I wanted to remind you of holiday shipping deadlines to keep in mind. This is especially important if you tend to be a procrastinator shopper and like to leave things for the last minute.

Overall, I’m going to be giving you holiday shipping deadlines based on the three most common shipping options when shopping online:

  • FedEx
  • UPS (United Parcel Service)
  • USPS (U.S. Postal Service)
holiday shipping deadlines

Common holiday shipping deadlines for this year

This year, Hanukkah begins on the evening of Thursday (December 7). Christmas falls on Monday (December 25). So, that’s both good and bad for those shopping for either Christmas or Chanukah gifts.

It’s good for Christmas shoppers, because it gives you a Saturday or an extra day to shop or have packages delivered. But, also, it’s bad because if you miss that Saturday delivery, you are SOL. There is no delivery (likely) on Sunday, Christmas Eve, and then definintely not on Monday, Christmas Day.

It’s bad for people shopping for Hanukkah. While Chanukah starts early this year, it’s not the earliest ever. I remember a few years ago that the Jewish Festival of Lights started right after Thanksgiving. We were still in November, for Pete’s sake!

With Chanukah being eight days, you’ll be ok if your gift arrives on December 7 and then you have until December 15 to get gifts in under the wire.

With that in mind, here are the holiday shipping deadlines to keep in mind by the shipping company.

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines

FedEx Ground: December 15

FedEx Express Saver: December 19

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FedEx Two-Day: December 20

Photo credit: Courtesy Fed Ex Newsroom.

UPS holiday shipping deadlines

UPS Three-Day Select: December 19

UPS Second-Day Air: December 20

UPS Next Day Air: December 21

Photo credit: Courtesy UPS Newsroom.

U.S. Postal Service shipping deadlines for Christmas

USPS Regular delivery: December 16

USPS Priority Mail: December 18

Finally, keep in mind that this is assuming there are no major disruptions in shipping services, such as a major snowstorm or a labor strike.

Letter Carrier WIlliam Velez inside new Promaster Van
Photo credit: USPS Newsroom.

What to do about gifts bought on December 23

If you find yourself shopping on December 23rd, are you SOL? No. Just make sure you’re shopping with stores that allow for curbside pickup or drive-up services. 

Then you’re not relying on a third–party shipping service to deliver your packages; you’ll be able to get them yourself.

Retail specific holiday shipping deadlines

Based on some of the most popular retailers where people were shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I’ve done some homework for you. And in doing so I’ve come up with holiday shipping deadlines you’ll need to keep in mind if shopping online at any of these retailers.

Amazon holiday shipping deadlines without Prime

While Amazon hasn’t published specific shipping deadlines for customers to use, I did some digging and found information designed for those selling on FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon). Here was my takeaway.

If you’re a shopper without an Amazon Prime membership, you should give yourself eight calendar days to receive your shipment.

So, if you want something for the first night of Chanukah (12/7), you need to ensure it is delivered by 12/7. Therefore, you need to buy it on Amazon by 12/4.

Similarly, if you need your Amazon package by Christmas Eve (12/24), you’ll want to buy it no later than 12/16.

Ever wonder if the post office is open on Christmas Eve?

Why not sign up for Amazon Prime as a gift to yourself? The first 30 days are free.

Amazon holiday shipping deadlines with Prime

Photo credit: Amazon Press Center.

On the other hand, if you have Amazon Prime and you live somewhere where two-day shipping works (in some rural places, the best you can get is three-day shipping), then your Chanukah shipping deadline is 12/4 and your Christmas shipping deadline is 12/21.

Three, if you’re lucky to live in a place where Amazon one-day or same-delivery exists–and is reliable–well, you really can likely wait for the last minute. I know people who live in major cities can get same-day Amazon stuff. Lucky ducks!

Best Buy holiday shipping deadlines

Best Buy has not published any shipping deadlines for holiday purchases. The only helpful information I could find says that it can take as long as 48 hours for tracking information to update on shipped purchases.

Given this uncertainty, I would definitely suggest doing Best Buy in-store pickup or curbside delivery. Why leave delivery to chance.

Costco holiday shipping deadlines

When it comes to getting packages delivered from Costco during the holiday season, the wholesale club actually recommends that you work with companies that provide same-day delivery.

Based on my research for this story on online grocery shopping, it appears that your best bet is to sign up for Instacart to get a Costco purchase on the same day.

In fact, the customer support page on the Costco website has this to say:

“Shoppers employed by Instacart will deliver items via personal automobile, generally within hours after purchase. If available, the item will display the “Quickest Delivery/Shop Same-Day Now” button on the item page.”

Costco Membership Deal

Costco Membership Deal via Groupon

The best deal on a Costco Membership right now is through Groupon. When you sign up, you’ll get your one-year membership plus a $40 Costco Digital Shop Card for free.

In case you didn’t know, the Costco Shop Card is the store’s gift card. You can use it in store or online.

This offer is for new Costco memberships only or for former Costco members whose membership expired more than 18 months ago. So, if you’ve moved, there wasn’t a Costco nearby and you let your membership lapse for more than 18 months, you’re good to go to sign up for this deal again!

Also, you can avoid the lines at your Costco location by signing up for this Groupon Costco deal. This was the crowd at the new Costco in Maine near where I live. Yikes!

lines at costco on opening day
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Terms and Conditions

  • After purchase you’ll receive an email from Costco confirming your membership details. To pick up your membership card, stop by the membership counter at any Costco location and bring a copy of that email with your photo ID. Incentive will be emailed within 2 weeks after sign-up to qualifying members.
  • You’re receiving a One-Year Costco Gold Star Membership
  • A membership card for the Primary Cardholder and one additional Household Card for anyone living at the same address, over the age of 16
  • A $40 Digital Costco Shop Card (valid at Costco locations and
  • Valid only for new members and those whose previous memberships (Primary and Household) have been expired for at least 18 months or more.
  • Please allow up to two hours to receive your confirmation email from Costco. You must have either your Costco or Groupon confirmation email to receive your physical membership card at a Costco location.
  • A physical membership card is not required to shop online or receive your incentives.
  • Incentive includes a $40 Digital Costco Shop Card
  • Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed within 2 weeks after sign-up to qualifying members.
  • Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed to the email address provided by the Primary Member at time of sign-up.
  • Not valid for the renewal of an existing Costco membership.
  • To purchase this package, you must be 18 years of age or over, and agree to Costco’s Membership Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • All sales final.
  • $40 Digital Costco Shop Card is not redeemable for cash, except as required by law. Digital Costco Shop Cards are not accepted at Costco Gas Stations, Car Washes, or Food Court Kiosks.

Again, this a Groupon-only deal for a Costco membership.

Other warehouse club memberships

Perhaps you prefer to shop at another warehouse club because it is more convenient to where you live than Costco is. Good news: Both BJs and Sam’s Club have Groupon deals right now for memberships. Plus, both tend to have gas stations where members can get a cheaper price when filling up the gas tank.

Etsy holiday shipping deadlines

I was able to figure out the holidays shipping deadlines at Etsy by looking at a guide they devised for people who sell on Etsy. These are the deadlines that they recommend sellers and craftspeople follow in order to get their customers their orders in time for the holidays.

However, it’s easy to reverse engineer this information for the shopper’s benefit. 

Unfortunately, Etsy has only published shipping deadlines for Christmas. Also, it only included options with the USPS and FedEx.

I’m not sure why UPS isn’t there. Finally, this is for U.S. shipments only, not Canada or overseas.

Here are tips for using the Etsy gift registry.

Macy’s holiday shipping deadlines

Maybe one of the reasons that so many shoppers have returned to Macy’s is the fact that Toys R Us is now open at Macy’s. Boy, do I miss the days of Geoffrey Dollars.

Anyway, if you want to shop for toys at Macy’s (or anything else on your holiday list), here are the shipping speeds you need to keep in mind for Macy’s:

  • Standard delivery: package should arrive three to six business days later.
  • Premium shipping: should arrive two business days later.
  • Express shipping: next day delivery on weekdays

Macy’s FAQ on shipping doesn’t specify which shipping company it uses.

Finally, Macy’s is a department store that offers store pickup and curbside pickup. Not convinced that shipped purchases will arrive in time? Go in person and get them.

Target holiday shipping deadlines

If you’ve read any of my articles about shopping at Target, then you know that I absolutely love the Target Drive Up option. In fact, it is so convenient that I’ll rarely have something from Target shipped to me.

Just so you know, if you decide to place an order for store pickup (in store or drive up), Target will hold your items for three days only. That’s three calendar days. 

After three days they’ll restock the items back into the store and refund your money. So always make sure that you’ve got enough time in your schedule to get to Target within that three-day period.

However, maybe Target Drive Up or in-store pickup isn’t as convenient for you, then you’ll want to know about Target’s shopping and shipping deadlines.

old target exterior with santa
Photo credit: Target Media Center.

Target shipping speeds

For starters if you’re looking for same-day delivery, then you’ll need to sign up with Shipt. Shipt is Target’s preferred partner for same-day deliveries. 

After that, you’re looking at different shipping speeds, not deadlines. Target says most orders are delivered within three to five business days. Keep in mind business days do not include weekend days.

Also, Target offers two-day shipping in certain locations. You’ll know if you’re eligible if this is something you can choose once you get to checkout. The cut-off for two-day shipping is 12 p.m. or 12 noon local.

Anyway, two-day shipping is just as it sounds–your package arrives two days later. However, those are two business days. So if you order on a Friday before the cut-off time, you’ll get it on Tuesday, not Sunday.

Finally, Target offers express shipping on a case-by-case basis for items that you’ve pre-ordered. Here is how Target explains this option:

“Express Shipping is available for pre-order items only. Your item(s) are expected to be delivered within 1 business day after the items have been shipped and picked up by the delivery carrier.”

Walmart holiday shipping deadlines

Like Target Walmart has a robust pick up service option for shoppers. In fact, Walmart Grocery Pickup is what introduced me to this concept of getting orders placed in the trunk of my car. So convenient.

Nowadays you can get way more than just groceries in your pickup order. In fact, since I couldn’t find any specific shipping deadlines outlined on the Walmart website, my overall advice for shopping at Walmart is this: just do drive up or Walmart pickup. 

These stores are closed on national holidays.

Finally, here are the hours when stores open.