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Holiday shipping deadlines 2020: How to get packages on time

We rounded up everything you need to know to make sure everyone on your list has something to unwrap this year.
Christmas gifts during self-isolation period
Last-minute shopping? Don't miss these shipping deadlines to receive your packages on time. Svetikd / Getty Images

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While there isn't an official deadline for holiday shopping, the pandemic has resulted in more consumers buying gifts online this year.

"Foot traffic for Black Friday was down by around 52% this year compared to 2019, which is a strong indication the holiday saw more online shopping than in previous years," Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, told Shop TODAY.

With this shift, it is expected that there will be some shipping delays, so the earlier you order your packages, the better.

The holiday shopping season started as early as October thanks to Amazon Prime Day, NBC business and tech correspondent Jo Ling Kent reported, but if you didn't start your shopping that early, there is still some time left to order presents for everyone on your list.

Plenty of retailers are still offering ground shipping to deliver your order before Dec. 24, but this deadline has passed for others. Though delivery dates might not be guaranteed this year, there are a few options you can pursue to make sure you receive your order as early as possible.

Tips for getting packages on time

This increase in online shopping presents a correlation with shipping delays — NBC consumer and investigative correspondent Vicky Nguyen shared that an estimated seven million packages were expected to be delivered each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

"As we can't be sure if retailers will offer expedited shipping options this year, we strongly suggest getting your orders in by the standard shipping deadline at the latest," Ramhold said. "Unfortunately, this will vary from retailer to retailer, but Dec. 10 is probably a safe bet for most of them."

With this in mind, Ramhold has three tips for shoppers hoping to receive their orders in time for Christmas: Shop early, opt for in-store pickup and embrace gift cards. Though gift cards may not appear to be the most personal gift, they are one of the only items you won't have to worry about arriving on time.

Most retailers are not guaranteeing delivery dates this year, and Ramhold warns against waiting too long. To avoid the possibility of delays, in-store pickup is a viable option for items that are in stock at your local store.

"Tons of retailers are offering the ability to shop online and receive your items via in-store or curbside pickup," Ramhold said. "If there was ever a year to shop using these methods, 2020 is definitely it."

Holiday shipping deadlines for 2020

Below is a list of holiday shipping deadlines for 2020.

USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines

  • Dec. 15: Last day to ship using ground service
  • Dec. 18: Last day to ship via First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 19: Last day to ship via Priority Mail
  • Dec. 23: Last day to ship via Priority Mail Express

UPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines

  • Dec. 15: Last Day to ship via UPS Ground
  • Dec. 21: Last day to ship via UPS Three-Day Select
  • Dec. 22: Last Day to ship via UPS Second-Day Air
  • Dec. 23: Last Day to ship via UPS Next Day Air

FedEx Holiday Shipping Deadlines

  • Dec. 15: Last day to ship via FedEx Home Delivery or FedEx Ground
  • Dec. 21: Last day to ship via FedEx Express Saver or Three-Day Freight
  • Dec. 22: Last day to ship via FedEx Two-Day, Two-Day A.M., Two-Day Freight or Two-Day
  • Dec. 23: Last day for all overnight shipping options, including via FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, or First Overnight
  • Dec. 25: Packages can be sent via Same Day City Priority or City Direct.

Amazon Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Amazon is notifying shoppers of the latest possible date to grab their items as they shop. Amazon has not announced an official holiday delivery calendar as it has in years past, but you'll still want to order as soon as possible.

Shoppers should also make note of the shipping estimate that is displayed above the "Add to Cart" button to ensure timely delivery.

1. Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker

This bestselling sous vide cooker is expected to arrive by Christmas. It's the perfect gift for the home chef in your life.

2. Sunbeam Heated Throw Blanket

Help your recipient stay warm all winter long with a throw blanket that operates on three different heat settings. It is also expected to arrive by Christmas.

3. Oannao Store 14-Piece Silicone Cooking Utensils

Who says you can't grab a gift for yourself too? This cookware set can revamp your holiday baking tool kit for less than $35.

Ulta Holiday Shipping Deadlines

The last day to place an order with standard shipping is Dec. 12, but you can still order by noon on Friday, Dec. 18 with expedited shipping or Saturday, Dec. 19 with premium shipping in order to receive your items by Dec. 24.

1. Fourth Ray Beauty Best Routine Ever Mini Kit

This kit includes five mini skin care products for the beauty enthusiast in your life. It features everything they'll need to start their mornings off right.

2. BareMinerals BarePro Powder Foundation

Don't wait until it's too late! This powder foundation from BareMinerals is currently on sale.

3. Philosophy Anti-Wrinkle Miracle Worker Eye Cream

This popular eye cream is also on sale and can arrive by Christmas when you choose an expedited shipping option at checkout.

Sephora Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Sephora's last call for standard shipping is 9 a.m. on Dec. 17. You can order as late as Dec. 19 at noon with the Flash one-day shipping option.

1. Fenty Beauty Fenty Glow Trio Face Lip & Body Set

This new set has more than 24,000 "loves" from Sephora shoppers and is on sale for less than $30.

2. Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector

Olaplex's hair care system is a popular Christmas pick, and you can still add this treatment to your cart in time for the holidays.

3. L'Occitane Hand Cream Tin

All you'll need to do is gift wrap this top-rated tin once it arrives in the mail!

Nordstrom Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Standard shipping at Nordstrom takes anywhere between three to eight days, but if you wanted to place a last-minute order that would arrive by Dec. 24, be sure to checkout no later than Dec. 21 with expedited two-day shipping ($12).

1. Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

This serum is expected to arrive by Christmas Eve. Even better? It's currently on sale for 15% off of the original price.

2. BaubleBar Pisa Pavé Initial Bracelet

You can save on this chic accessory in several different styles that are expected to arrive on time. Some styles have already sold out, so don't wait too long!

3. Ugg Classic Mini Fluff Quilted Boots

We're all living in slippers, and this pair of Ugg boots are a casual-yet-comfortable upgrade that can be worn outside of the house too.

Macy's Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Through Dec. 25, Macy's is offering same-day delivery through DoorDash for orders placed by 1 p.m. local time. For all other means of shipping, you'll want to place your order before noon on Dec. 18.

1. TonyMoly All You Need Mask Set

This sheet mask set qualifies for free shipping from Macy's. It's suitable for all skin types, so you can gift it to any beauty lover on your list.

2. Homedics UV-Clean Phone Sanitizer

You can save big on this popular tech gadget right now thanks to a 55% markdown. Since it meets the $25 minimum, you can also have this item ship for free.

3. Design Pac Tree Gift Tower

This gift tower includes several treats that make for the perfect stocking stuffer or gift for a long-distance friend.

Urban Outfitters Shipping Deadlines

You'll want to place an order by 3 a.m. ET on Dec. 19 to ensure standard delivery by Dec. 24, but you can also order as late as 9 a.m. on Dec. 23 with rush shipping.

1. Bala Bangles Wearable Set

Fitness enthusiasts should have this weighted bangle set on their list this year! Each bracelet weighs just one pound, enough for anyone looking to intensify their home workouts.

2. "The Mini Bar: 100 Essential Cocktail Recipes," by Punch

This set of eight recipe books makes a great gift for anyone who has become a self-appointed bartender while at home. It features recipes for whiskey, gin, rum and more.

3. Cooluli Mini Beauty Refrigerator

If someone on your list has an multi-step skin care routine, they'll appreciate a place to store all of their beauty essentials. This mini fridge has a 4.6-star rating and comes in four different colors.

Uniqlo Holiday Shipping Deadlines

To receive your order by Dec. 25, order by 6 p.m. EST on Dec. 17 with standard shipping, but you can also order by 6 p.m. EST on Dec. 21 with express shipping.

1. Uniqlo Fluffy Yarn Windproof Hoodie

Perfect for layering or wearing around the house, anyone on your list will appreciate this cozy essential.

2. Uniqlo Pile-Lined Crew Neck Cardigan

This cardigan is soft enough to wear for any occasion but looks nice enough for work video calls and socially distant celebrations.

3. Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka

This packable jacket is on sale for just $60 and should arrive just in time for the holidays when you order by Dec. 17.

Kohl's Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Delivery via standard shipping is no longer guaranteed for a Dec. 24 arrival, but you can order as late as 2 p.m. EST on Dec. 20 with two-day shipping to have your items delivered before Christmas. Kohl's also has the option to pick up your order curbside locally.

1. Plus Size Levi's Denim Trucker Jacket

Denim jackets make the perfect gifts because they'll never go out of style, but now is the perfect time to grab this version while it is still on sale.

2. Simply Vera Vera Wang High Rise Legging

These high-rise leggings are not only figure-flattering but are also heavyweight, so you or your recipient won't have to worry about see-through bottoms.

3. Columbia Suttle Mountain Insulated Jacket

This bestseller is on sale for just $140 right now and can ship just in time before the temperatures truly start to drop.

Dick's Sporting Goods Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Dec. 16 is the deadline for standard shipping at Dick's, but you can order with expedited shipping as late as Dec. 20. Like many retailers, Dick's Sport Goods offers fast and easy curbside pick-up too.

1. Hydro Flask Wide Mouth 32-Ounce Bottle

Select versions of this popular reusable bottle are also on sale, so you can grab a gift and a discount at the same time.

2. Patagonia Women's Better Sweater Jacket

Crafted from recycled polyester knit fleece, this jacket is the perfect winter layering piece.

3. Carhartt Men's Midweight Sleeve Logo Hoodie

This warm hoodie is a popular pick this year, and you can still snag a few select styles before they are gone.

Lululemon Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Orders with standard shipping from Lululemon need to be placed by 2:59 a.m. ET on Dec. 20 to arrive by Dec. 24. Since Lululemon ships via FedEx, they'll automatically adjust the shipping method (at no cost to you) to make sure it arrives at your door on time.

1. Wunder Train High-Rise Tight

These leggings boast a high-waist fit and are designed to wick away sweat and moisture while still feeling soft on your skin.

2. Lululemon Align Pant

If these top-rated leggings are on anyone's wish list this year, you can still add them to your cart before the holidays in a variety of colors and sizes.

3. Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve 2.0

This new top from Lululemon is perfect for runners. Thanks to its slim fit and thumbholes, they won't have to worry about chafing or pausing their training to get comfortable.

REI Holiday Shipping Deadlines

If you want your REI order to arrive by Dec. 25, it should be placed by 2:59 a.m. ET on Dec. 17. Most REI locations will be open until 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 for in-store pickup too.

1. The North Face Ruby Insulated Jacket

It's not too late to gift snow gear! This insulated jacket from The North Face is available in three colors that are all on sale.

2. Black Diamond LightWeight ScreenTap Gloves

This winter essential can keep your hands warm while you use your phone on hikes or morning runs during the colder months.

3. AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press

Campers or nature lovers will appreciate this top-rated coffee press that can make up to three cups of coffee in just one minute.

Old Navy Shipping Deadlines

UPS recently announced a shipping limit at Gap, so you'll want to order as early as possible if you want to receive your order in time for the holidays. The retailer has not announced guaranteed delivery dates, but the standard shipping timeline indicates that orders should be placed by Dec. 16 at the latest if you want your package to arrive on time.

1. Old Navy High-Waisted Rockstar Built-In Warm Super Skinny Jeans

These skinny jeans are brushed on the inside to not only help you keep warm, but feel soft enough to wear all day.

2. Old Navy Plaid Twill Swing Shirt Dress

Pair this dress with slippers to wear around the house or dress it up with a chic pair of booties to create your holiday look in a matter of minutes.

3. Old Navy Cozy Color-Blocked Crew-Neck Sweater

This stretchy sweater comes in three different colors and is currently on sale for 20% off.

Target Shipping Deadlines

The retailer hasn't announced any guaranteed delivery dates, so to be on the safe side you'll want to place your Target order by Dec. 20 for a Dec. 24 delivery. The retailer offers free two-day shipping on eligible orders of $35 or more — and if you're cutting it too close, consider the in-store pickup method.

1. Wondershop Galvanized Buildings Decoration Kit

In need of some last-minute decor? This kit includes 12 pieces that can help create a winter wonderland in any corner of your home.

2. Power XL Vortex Air Fryer

Another item a home chef will appreciate this year? An air fryer. This wildly popular version from Power XL is on sale right now for less than $50.

3. L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Gift Set

For the beauty guru that hasn't booked a lash appointment in months, this gift set is sure to be appreciated. It includes both a primer and mascara to make for longer, fuller lashes with just a few strokes.

Anthropologie Holiday Shipping Deadlines

You should place your Anthropologie order by 2:59 a.m. ET on Dec. 18 for arrival by Dec. 24. You can also opt for express shipping when you place your order by 2:59 a.m. ET on Dec. 21 and overnight shipping on orders placed by 2:59 a.m. ET on Dec. 22.

1. Beauty Loves Gift Set

From a Mario Badescu facial spray to a Christophe Robin sea salt scrub, this gift set includes some of the hottest beauty items that can ship straight to their door.

2. George & Viv Holiday Hand Cream

This last-minute stocking stuffer can help combat dry winter hands in a range of festive scents.

3. Voluspa Maison Candle

These hand-poured candles are ready to gift and come in a range of scents including Blond Tabac, Bourbon Vanille and Sparkling Rose.

Home Depot Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Home Depot offers free two-day shipping on thousands of eligible items on orders of $45 or more, so you'll want to order by Dec. 20 to err on the side of caution and comply with typical shipping timelines.

1. Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit

You can save $60 on this tool kit that includes four tools, two rechargeable batteries, a carrying bag and accessories that can ship right to your door.

2. Eddie Bauer Cooper 3-Piece Duvet Cover Set

Add this exclusive buy to your cart today to ensure delivery by the holidays. The three-piece set includes the duvet cover and two shams.

3. Amazon Echo Show 5

Watch movies, cooking tutorials, respond to texts and more with this gadget. It's still on sale and can ship with scheduled delivery.

Shutterfly Holiday Shipping Deadlines

If you want your personalized gift to arrive by Dec. 25, you'll want to place your order by 2:59 a.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 12 to qualify for standard shipping, Thursday, Dec. 17 for expedited shipping, Friday, Dec. 18 for rush shipping and Monday, Dec. 21 for super rush shipping.

1. Joy Peace Love Colorful Jeweled Ornament

This custom ornament can make any family portrait pop this year thanks to a glossy chrome finish.

2. Family Is Always Fleece Photo Blanket

You can customize this blanket with up to 23 photos to gift to relatives this year. You can choose from three different sizes and three different materials including fleece, plush fleece and sherpa.

3. Merry and Bright Christmas Mug

Add a personal touch to a classic gift that will still arrive in time to be placed under the tree. You can add up to four different photos to this mug.

Best Buy Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Shoppers can typically qualify for free next-day delivery at Best Buy on eligible items with an order total of $35 or more. Standard shipping orders typically take anywhere between three and five business days, so you'll want to order by Dec. 16 at the latest for holiday delivery. Larger appliances will have different shipping and delivery dates.

1. Apple AirPods with Charging Case

Need a pair of wireless headphones for Zoom calls? These AirPods are still on sale at Best Buy at a can't-miss price.

2. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Anyone looking to get into streaming will appreciate this nifty gadget. They'll be able to watch movies, TV and more, and call on Amazon's Alexa when they need some help finding a channel.

3. PowerA Joy-Con Charging Dock

If you've already gotten them a Nintendo Switch, don't forget the accessories! This sleek charger isn't clunky and won't take up too much space in your living room.

Walmart Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Shipping at Walmart can vary by item, but if you want your item to be delivered by Dec. 24, it's best to place your order by Dec. 17. Walmart also offers free two-day shipping on orders of $35 or more and curbside pickup.

1. The Pioneer Woman 6-Quart Portable Slow Cooker

This floral slow cooker can whip up meals for up to seven people. Even better? You can toss the pot and lid in the dishwasher once everyone is done.

2. Onn. Dual-Port Portable Battery

For the tech lover that never seems to have a full battery, this sleek portable charger is sure to come in handy.

3. Time and Tru Women’s Hiker Boots

Know someone who has been spending more time outdoors? Make sure they're doing it fashionably with these stylish hiking boots.

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