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 Sunday (December 18) and Christmas falls on the following Sunday (December 25). So, that’s both good and bad.

It’s good, 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, then your next option is Monday. 

With Chanukah being eight days, you’ll be ok if your gift arrives on December 19. However, if you celebrate Christmas, it will not be good if gifts get there the day after Christmas–unless, of course, you celebrate Boxing Day on December 26.

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

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines

fedex truck

FedEx Ground: December 14

FedEx Express Saver: December 20

FedEx Two-Day: December 21

UPS holiday shipping deadlines

ups truck

UPS Three-Day Select: December 19

UPS Second-Day Air: December 21

UPS Next Day Air: December 22

U.S. Postal Service shipping deadlines for Christmas

USPS Regular delivery: December 17

USPS Priority Mail: December 19

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.

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 (12/18), you need to ensure it is delivered by 12/17. Therefore, you need to buy it on Amazon by 12/9.

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

amazon delivery van

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 12/16 and your Christmas shipping deadline is 12/22.

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

Please be sure to take note of the coupon code (CJPROMO) with this membership deal. And please make sure you enter that promo code at checkout. Otherwise, you won’t get the freebies and incentives mentioned here.

Terms and Conditions

  • To receive a Digital Costco Shop Card, you must provide a valid email address and set up auto renewal of your Costco membership on a Visa® card at the time of sign-up.
  • If you elect not to provide a valid email address and sign up for auto renewal, a Digital Costco Shop Card will not be emailed.
  • Valid only for nonmembers for their first year of membership. Not valid for renewal or upgrade of an existing membership.
  • To qualify as a new member, an existing Costco membership must be expired at least 18 months or more. Limit one promotion per household.
  • Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed to the email address provided by the primary member at time of sign-up within 2 weeks after successful sign-up and enrollment in auto renewal.
  • Costco is not liable for incentives not received due to entry of an invalid address during sign-up.
  • *Use the provided single-use promo code when entering your payment information. (Note: You will see a $0.01 deduction on your membership cost after the promo code is entered. This indicates that your promo code has been successfully processed so your incentive will be emailed.)
  • New members will not receive the promotion if the provided code is not entered at checkout when purchasing the membership.

So, don’t forget to use the coupon code (CJPROMO) with this membership deal.

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 is the information I copied from this page on Etsy:

United States Postal Service cutoff dates

  • USPS Retail Ground: December 15
  • USPS Media Mail: December 15
  • First-Class Mail: December 17
  • Priority Mail: December 18
  • USPS Priority Mail Express: December 20

FedEx cutoff dates

  • FedEx Ground/Home Delivery: December 15
  • FedEx Express Saver: December 21
  • FedEx 2Day: December 22
  • FedEx Overnight: December 23

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

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.

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