The Official 2017 Guide to Holiday Shopping Cut-Off Dates

If you prefer to wait a little further into the holiday season to do your holiday shopping, good for you. The question is: How long can you wait before it's too late to get those gifts to where they're going in time for Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah?

The holiday dates

CalendarAndrey Cherkasov /Shutterstock
This year, the big December holidays start early, with the dates falling as follows:

  • Hanukkah: The Jewish festival of lights begins on the evening of Tuesday, December 12, 2017, and continues through the evening of Wednesday, December 20. On Hanukkah, gift-giving happens at sundown, along with the candle-lighting and prayer-singing (and don't forget the latkes and doughnuts). Technically, all this happens every night during the Hanukkah festival. So, if you want to have your Hanukkah gifts all lined up before the first night, you'll have to make sure to start early in order to get it done by December 12.
  • Christmas: This year, just like every year, Christmas is on December 25—a Monday, this year, so you have the weekend for last-minute purchases.
  • Kwanzaa: Kwanzaa begins on December 26 every year and ends on New Year's Day. That places the first day of Kwanzaa on a Tuesday. Since most stores are closed on Christmas, you'll need to have all your Kwanzaa gifts lined up by Christmas.

Retail analyst Krista Fabregas tells Reader's Digest, "A good rule of thumb for holiday shopping is the earlier you order, the better." So use this guide to help you time your holiday shopping and shipping—and put these five holiday shopping tips to use for stress-free mall trips.

The U.S. Postal Service

USPSVia USPS.com
Whether you're ordering from a place that uses USPS or you're going to be doing your own shipping, you'll need to know the basics, including what the United States Postal Service (USPS) can promise in terms of shipping times. Jenny Bahun, a spokesperson for Duck® brand packing tape gave Reader's Digest these cutoffs for getting your gifts into the mail for delivery by the first day of Hanukkah or Christmas/Kwanzaa (for delivery in the U.S. only):

  • December 6 or 19: cutoff for USPS First-Class Mail Service
  • December 7 or 20: cutoff for USPS Priority Mail Service
  • December 9 or 22: cutoff for USPS Priority Mail Express Service

Track your holiday shipments here, and don't miss what your postal carrier is really thinking about you.

UPS

UPSVia UPS.com
From Dealhack, we learned that if time is too tight for delivery by the USPS, you can use UPS, but heed these shipping cutoffs if you want your gifts delivered by the first day of Hanukkah or Christmas/Kwanzaa in the U.S.:

  • December 5 or 18: Cutoff for UPS 3-Day Select shipments (delivery promised on Dec 22)
  • December 7 or 20: Cutoff for UPS 2nd Day Air shipments (delivery promised on Dec 22)
  • December 9 or 22: Deadline for UPS Next Day Air shipments (delivery promised on Dec 23, but note: Packages must be processed and labeled for Saturday delivery, which is not available in all ZIP codes)
  • December 11 or 24: UPS Express Critical

Here's why UPS trucks never turn left.

FedEx

 

FedExVia FedEx.com
Also from Dealhack, we got the deadlines for using FedEx to get your packages where they're going (within the U.S.) in time for Hanukkah or Christmas/Kwanzaa:

  • November 30 or December 11: Deadline for FedEx SmartPost shipments
  • December 2 or 15: Deadline for FedEx Ground shipments
  • December 5 or 18: Deadline for FedEx Home Delivery shipments
  • December 6 or 19: Deadline for FedEx Express Saver shipments
  • December 7 or 20: Deadline for FedEx 2-Day and 2-Day A.M. shipments
  • December 8 or 21: Deadline for FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, First Overnight shipments
  • December 12 or 25: Deadline for all FedEx SameDay shipments

Please be very wary of this scam that uses real FedEx packaging to bait its victims.

Content continues below ad

If you want FREE holiday shipping and an easy date to remember
FreeshippingdayVia Freeshippingday.com

"This year's Free Shipping Day is Friday, December 15, so that's a good order-by date to keep in mind when shopping," says retail analyst, Krista Fabregas, especially considering that other than Free Shipping Day, the holiday delivery cutoff dates listed on online retailer websites "may be subject to unexpected factors (such as weather)."

After that, you'll have to pay for shipping with many sellers, or pay an upcharge fee to guarantee holiday delivery. According to Dealhack, you'll need to go the Free Shipping Day website to view the details of each store's free shipping offer. Each works a bit differently. However, all participating retailers (there are over 1,000!) promise delivery Christmas Eve (December 24). And none have a minimum purchase requirement.

This year's retailers include:

  • Target
  • Kohl's
  • JCPenney
  • Talbot's
  • Harry & David
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Lord & Taylor
  • Vitamin Shoppe
  • Ozone Socks
  • Guitar Center
  • Carl's Golfland
  • Claire's
  • Cheryl's Cookies
  • Mrs. Fields
  • Merrell
  • Aerosoles
  • Keds
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Michael Stars
  • Orvis
  • Seven7 Jeans

Of course, you may not want to do all your shopping online on Free Shipping Day. Lindsay Sakraida, Director of Content Marketing with DealNews, shared with Reader's Digest that you can order gifts online surprisingly close to Christmas if you're willing to upgrade to expedited shipping (and its upgraded costs). Sakraida adds that while "stores do their best to adhere to their promises, every year we hear of shoppers who were disappointed on Christmas Day. To avoid any chance delays, we recommend that people order gifts by the standard shipping cutoff for your store of choice. That will give you a bit of buffer time in case something goes wrong." Here are some great ways to save big by shopping online.

Target

TargetVia Target.com
If you're doing your shopping at Target and want to make sure your gifts are delivered on time, you're going to want to heed the following dates, which come to us from Dealhack:

  • December 4 or 17: Standard shipping option
  • December 9 or 22: Premium shipping option
  • December 10 or 23: Express shipping option

Shoppers wanting to deliver a wrapped gift without paying additional wrapping fees can find a variety of boxed gift sets that are pre-packaged at Target, as well as at Amazon, Sephora, Ulta, and Lowe's, according to Fabregas. Here is how you can get free shipping from Target between now and December 23.

Amazon

AmazonVia Amazon.com
The following dates come from Dealhack:

  • December 5 or 18: Standard shipping option
  • December 9 or 22: Express shipping option
  • December 10 or 23: Fastest shipping option

Amazon includes these international shipping cut-off dates for delivery by Christmas. Shoppers wanting to deliver a wrapped gift without paying additional wrapping fees can find a variety of boxed gift sets that are pre-packaged at on Amazon, as well as Target, Sephora, Ulta, and Lowe's, according to Fabregas. Dealnews's Lindsay Sakraida adds that "Amazon in particular is a champ for late purchases that arrive on time."

Walmart
WalmartVia Walmart.com

  • December 6 or 19: Guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery with Standard shipping option
  • December 9 or 22: 3-day shipping option
  • December 10 or 23: 2-day shipping option.

Walmart also partners with Unbeatable Sale to ship these gift baskets, which are subject to these shipping policies (some of these are shipped free, but you will have to check each one specifically).

Content continues below ad

Best Buy
BestbuyVia Bestbuy.com

  • December 9 or 22: Expedited shipping
  • December 10 or 23: Express shipping
  • December 11 or 24: Store pickup
  • December 12 or 25: E-gift cards purchased at Bestbuy.com

You can increase your savings by trying Dealhack's Best Buy coupons. And here's a secret about buying electronics at the airport, and it involves the Best Buy kiosk.

Kohl's

KohlsVia Kohls.com
The only guaranteed delivery option Kohl's offers this year is their one-day shipping, and you'll have to get your shopping done by December 9 or 22 (1 p.m. Central Standard Time) to make sure the delivery arrives on time. What might make the deal sweeter is Dealhack's Kohl's coupons.

Barnes & Noble

BarnesandnobleVia Barnesandnoble.com
Natalie Bean, a spokesperson for Barnes & Noble tells Reader's Digest that shoppers must make their purchases by 11:59 a.m. on December 21 to receive their gifts in time for Christmas. Hanukkah shoppers should plan to wrap things up by December 8. For last-minute shoppers, Barnes & Noble stores will be open with limited hours on Christmas Eve. Also, from now until January 1, 2018, in-store shoppers have the opportunity to participate in Barnes & Noble's annual book drive by purchasing a book for donation at check out, benefiting organizations that support children in need.

Here are nine other ways to get bookish about making charitable donations.

Home Depot

HomedepotVia Homedepot.com
These dates come from the Best Black Friday website:

  • December 3 or 16 (noon): Standard shipping
  • December 8 or 21 (noon): Expedited shipping
  • December 9 or 22 (noon): Express shipping
  • December 10 or 24 (2 p.m.): In-store pickup

If you like to shop at Home Depot, then you might enjoy getting into some of these home DIY projects.

Content continues below ad

JCPenney

JCPenneyVia Jcpenney.com
Also from the Best Black Friday website:

  • December 3 or 16: In-store pickup
  • December 5 or 18: Direct manufacturer shipping
  • December 6 or 19: Standard shipping
  • December 7 or 20: Express 2-day delivery
  • December 9 or 22 (before noon Central Standard Time): Expedited 1-day delivery

Here are the 50 hottest gift ideas from JCPenney.

Apple

AppleVia Apple.com
If you'll be shopping Apple for gifts, you'll want to heed the following cut-off dates, according to Dealhack:

  • December 9 or 22 (5 p.m. local time): Free standard shipping
  • December 10 or 23: Next-day guarantee shipping

Dell

DellVia Dell.com
If you'll be shopping Dell this holiday season, you'll want to heed the following deadlines, according to Dealhack:

  • December 5 or 18 (3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time): Standard shipping
  • December 9 or 22 (3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time): Express shipping
  • December 10 or 23 (3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time): Fastest shipping

Here are Dealhack's Dell coupons.

Newegg

NeweggVia Newegg.com
Here are Newegg's shipping deadlines, according to Dealhack:

  • December 1 or 14: Super "Eggsaver" shipping
  • December 3 or 16: Large items
  • December 8 or 21: Business 3-day shipping
  • December 9 or 22: Business 2-day shipping
  • December 10 or 23: Business 1-day shipping

Shop with Dealhack's Newegg coupons for bigger savings. But please note that according to Slickdeals, Newegg holiday orders can take up to two days to process before they ship.

Content continues below ad

Macy's

MacysVia Macys.com
If you're doing your holiday shopping at Macy's, bear in mind these cut-off dates, according to Dealhack:

  • December 9 or 22 (5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time): Standard 2-day shipping
  • December 10 or 23 (5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time): Express shipping

Ever wondered what Macy's employees were thinking around the holidays? Here are the things Macy's employees wish you knew about holiday shopping.

Wayfair, Joss&Main, AllModern, and BirchLane

WayfairVia Wayfair.com
Erin Murphy, a spokesperson for Wayfair and lifestyle brands Joss & Main, AllModern, and Birch Lane tells Reader's Digest that "many items that we carry across these sites are available for 2-day shipping. So, for that reason, we have plenty of options for customers to shop up until December 21—given that Christmas is on a Monday and there would be no deliveries that Sunday."

Harry & David

HarryanddavidVia Harryanddavid.com
According to Meghan Speranzo, a spokesperson for Harry & David, the standard shipping cut-off for Christmas is December 18. You might still get it delivered before Christmas if you order by December 19 at 10 a.m. and cough up the extra shipping fee. In either case, shoppers can purchase personalized greeting cards to their gift at check-out for $3.99.

Cheryl's Cookies

Cheryls-cookiesVia Cheryls.com
According to Meghan Speranzo, a spokesperson for Cheryl's Cookies, the standard shipping cut-off for Christmas is December 20. If you miss it, you can try making your own, but make sure to use these flawless Christmas cookie baking hacks.

Content continues below ad

Lululemon

LululemonVia lululemon.com
If you've got a yoga or fitness enthusiast you're shopping for, you can find the perfect gift for them at Lululemon and get it to them by December 24th if you make your purchase by December 21 (11:59 Pacific Standard Time). And that shipping is free! You can make the deal even better with these Dealhack Lululemon coupons. Here are the secrets of women who work out every day.

Toys "R" Us

ToysrusVia Toysrus.com
If you've got a Toys "R" Us kid you're shopping for this holiday season, you'll need to know these deadlines, according to Dealhack:

  • December 6 or 19 (3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time): Standard shipping
  • December 9 or 22 (3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time): Expedited shipping
  • December 10 or 23 (12 p.m. Eastern Standard Time): Express shipping
  • December 12 or 24: In-store pickup

Shop with Dealhack's Toys "R" Us coupons. Check out these classic popular toys and find out what they were really intended for.

Ozone Socks

Ozone-socksVia Ozonesocks.com
"Generally we tell our customers to shop through Free Shipping Day (December 15) for holiday arrival," advises Marcus Svensson of Ozone Design, the makers of Ozone Socks. "It's a great way to promote through Free Shipping Day, while also giving us room to package and ship all the orders in a timely fashion." To sweeten this deal, Ozone will couple Free Shipping Day with a 10 percent off discount code (FSD10).

Here's why you should be wearing socks to bed.

 

View as Slideshow

Become more interesting every week!

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.