It’s not too late! Here are our recommendations for places to get Christmas gifts for out-of-town people over the next few days. A huge variety of gifts can still be purchased anywhere from December 20th all the way through Christmas morning itself.
Order drop-dead date: Christmas Morning
Gift cards are an easy and quick way to pick out a gift for someone and ensure they get the perfect item to fit their tastes. Grocery and department stores have displays that make it very convenient to purchase gift cards for large chains such as Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse, Home Depot, Best Buy, and more. If your nearby friend or family member enjoys shopping at one of the fifty-ish stores found on these displays, this may be the way for you to win Christmas.
Purchasing a physical gift card this late into the game for someone who’s out of town could be an expensive gamble. Thankfully a lot of stores have the ability to purchase gift cards right on their website that you can send via email. You may be able to customize the design and message on your e-gift card, either choosing one of their preprogrammed images or have the ability to upload one of your own. Some brands like Lands’ End, On the Border, and Fandango even allow you to send customized audio messages with your gift.
Some stores that offer electronic gift cards include:
- Apple Stores
- Forever 21
- Microsoft Store
- Pier-1 Imports
- Regal Cinemas
A number of popular chain restaurants from Dunkin’ Donuts to Chili’s to Bonefish Grill offer e-gift cards as well. For an extensive list of stores that have e-gift card options, visit giftcards.com.
The timing of your purchase online and the delivery of the e-gift card can vary from a few minutes to a few hours. So, for the very, very last minute shopper, you may be able to get one of these in the wee hours of Christmas morning. Preferably, though, place your order by the evening of December 24th to ensure it processes in time.
Order drop-dead date: December 23rd or December 24th
A small number of stores allow you to purchase an item online and have it picked up in the store, even if that store is across the country. This option works out well if you have a friend or family member who can pick up the gift on your behalf, such as parents picking up a toy you purchased for their child.
You can still take advantage of this service through:
- Best Buy – Order by 12:00 p.m. local time on December 24th
- Macy’s – Order by 10:00 a.m. local time on December 24th
- Toys “R” Us – Order through December 24th
- Walmart – Order by December 23rd
This option also has the benefit of saving you on expensive last-minute shipping fees.
Order drop-dead date: December 21st or December 22nd
When you visit their website, most retailers will prominently display the last day you can place an order on their site to have it shipped in time for Christmas.
Here are a few of the national chains that there’s still time to order from:
- Barnes & Noble – Order by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 21st
- Bloomingdale’s – Order by 12:00 p.m. EST on December 22rd
- Cabela’s – Order by 3:00 p.m. EST on December 21st
- Guitar Center – Order by December 22nd
- shopDisney (formerly Disney Store) – Order by December 21st
- Target – Order by 11:59 p.m. CST on December 20th
Be sure when you place your order online that you verify the handling time for the packages. There’s a number of smaller sites that are still offering the option of two-day shipping but do not have the infrastructure in place to actually package up and send out the item in the next few days. That means you could end up paying an exorbitant fee for one- or two-day shipping for an item that might not actually arrive in time.
Order drop-dead date: December 24th
Anyone choosing two-day shipping, which is included free for Amazon Prime members, has until the end of the day on Friday, December 22 to place orders to arrive by Christmas.
You can shop on Amazon as late as December 23rd for the items to arrive in time if you pay the one-day shipping rate. Note that this service is available only in select areas, and has a limited selection of items available.
Amazon’s Same-Day delivery option allows you to order packages for people who live in large cities on December 24th. Orders need to be placed by 9:30 a.m. local time and they will be delivered on Christmas Eve. The selection of items available through Amazon’s Same-Day delivery is a lot more limited than their main store, though.
Raleigh, Durham, and other large cities like New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles are included in Amazon’s Same-Day delivery range. You can look up the zip code to find out if Same-Day delivery is offered for the city you need to ship to at amazon.com.
FedEx and UPS
Shipping drop-dead date: December 21st
Both FedEx and UPS allow you to ship an item as late as December 21st to get it there by Christmas. If you’re using FedEx, choose their Overnight option. For UPS, choose their Next Day Air option.
Be sure you know the cutoff time for package drop-offs at the Fed Ex or UPS center in your city to make sure you make it in time on the 21st. In addition to their drop boxes which have pick up times varying on average from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., you can also go to a UPS Store or Fed Ex Office location to ship. Packages can be dropped off at the shipping centers directly as well.
The order deadlines quoted in this article applies to orders being shipped to the contiguous United States. Times and shipping deadlines to specific cities may vary, so it’s best to always double-check on the retailer’s website prior to placing your order.