Holiday shopping procrastinators, be forewarned: Thursday, December 22, is the final day Amazon Prime members can place orders and expect normal two-day delivery to arrive by Christmas Eve.
Amazon actually lists several deadlines for holiday purchases ensured to be delivered by Saturday, December 24. For two-day shipping, which is included at no extra charge on most orders for subscribers to Amazon’s $99-per-year Prime service, orders must be placed no later than December 22.
In select cities, however, Prime members may also be eligible to get one-day, same-day, or even two-hour shipping, at no additional charge. The deadlines for these shipping options are December 23, 9:30 a.m. on December 24, and possibly as late as 9:45 p.m. locally on December 24, respectively. But again, these special services are available only in select locations.
Bear in mind that this is the busiest, most hectic time of the year for retailers and shipping services alike. So to avoid disappointment come December 25, it’s of course best to place online orders as soon as possible.
Amazon may have some of the latest shipping deadlines in retail, but it’s not the only online vendor worth considering for last-minute purchases. The jewelry seller Blue Nile, for instance, is including free overnight delivery for most orders, and free overnight Saturday deliver on purchases of $500 or more. Nordstrom, which normally offers free standard shipping on all purchases, allows customers to pay $10 for rush shipping on orders placed by noon on Friday, December 23, for delivery guaranteed by the next day. Apple has free next-day shipping available for iPhones that are in stock, as well as free two-day shipping on other merchandise.
Apple also allows customers to order items online and pick them up in a nearby store. This is probably the safest option for shoppers still trying to round up gifts as the workweek comes to a close.
The sensible buy-online, pickup-in-store service is available from many other retailers too, including Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and more. It’s one of the best last-minute shopping options we know of, as it saves the time and hassle of having to hunt through store aisles—and also eliminates the risk of a gift being sold out or not being delivered on time.
Still other last-minute gift ideas—many of which require no trip to the store, and can be purchased in seconds—include electronic gift cards, subscription gift boxes, customizable presents sent via email, and experiences like concerts or cooking classes rather than just more “stuff.”