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Last-Minute Holiday Gifts + Shipping Deadlines

December 14th, 2009

last-minute-christmas-giftsHave you run out of ideas and time to complete your holiday shopping? December 17, 2009 is designated as the 2nd Annual Free Shipping Day, when more than 500 merchants are expected to offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Most retailers have published their deadlines for placing orders, and there’s a list for your convenience below.

If the need for a gift pops up past that date, I’ve found some last minute solutions with quick delivery options. This time of year, gift cards become the ultimate back-up plan for procrastinating shoppers. In looking at the plethora of available cards, it is striking how much they vary, with some having hidden fees or restrictions. As time runs out, food gifts become more attractive, because they are always appreciated and the companies supplying these perishable items usually ship them overnight.

Gift Card Choices

American Express gift cards have no fees or lost value, and can be ordered online with a complimentary upgrade to second day shipping.  Visa cards can be ordered online or locally at participating banks and merchants.  Both can be redeemed online and in any stores where credit cards are accepted. Discover, on the other hand, charges a $3.95 processing fee and $2.50 per month after a year of inactivity. Even worse, Discover gift cards cannot be used for in-store purchases.

Specific  stores that offer gift cards or e-gift cards also have restrictions that vary. While Target e-gift cards have no fee or expiration date, they can only be used to shop online. Retailers like Macy’s, Kohl’s, RadioShack, Bass Pro Shop and Sears/Kmart offer their gift cards online for both in-store and online shopping.  Sears/Kmart and Walmart offer the additional feature of allowing their cards to be reloaded. Amazon has mail, print, or email options for delivering their no-fee no-expiration gift cards, which can be redeemed at Amazon and their companion website, If your recipient is in another city, you’ll want to have these e-gift cards sent by email or the gift cards delivered to them. But if you want to give a gift in person, you can choose to print an e-card. Prepaid phone cards are also a great gift idea to help stay in touch long distance.

Overnight Food Delivery

DelDaisyIf your choice is to give a tangible gift at the last moment, an important consideration is whether the retailer you choose has a delivery partner located near the recipient.  Cherry Moon Farms offers same day delivery for fruit and gourmet baskets or flowers through their network of local florists. Edible Arrangements also offers quick delivery of fruit and flower bouquets and chocolates through their localized network. Reputable companies like Harry and David, who normally ship wine baskets and gourmet fruit from a single location in 4-5 days, do offer expedited shipping for additional fees, as does Godiva Chocolates. So your desperation level can be lessened if you’re willing to pay the cost. You can order soups, cheeses and sweet treats from Figi’s. For gourmet eaters there is Omaha Steaks, and for more dining decadence, you can order New England lobster and shellfish from, or choose from a full menu of gourmet meals delivered by

A few more universal gifts that don’t require a known size or allergy tolerance are movie passes or subscriptions, and gift cards for books, CDs & DVDs. Amusement park passes, music cards and downloads are always welcome gifts too. Or consider a GoDaddy gift card for someone who wants to put up a web page, and some software tools to design it.

Shipping Deadlines

Below are shipping deadlines from some popular stores to help lower your shopping stress level. You can be thankful that in spite of your procrastination, there are so many late-working delivery elves out there making possible a wonderful holiday for you and yours.

Merchant Free Standard Express Fastest
Amazon 12/17 12/20 12/21, 22 12/23 5:30 EST
BestBuy 12/21 11am EST 12/22 11am EST 12/23 11am EST
Borders 12/14 12/16 12/20 12/22 12/13 (books, games)
12/15 (electronics)
12/16 12/21 12/22
Circuit City 12/19 12/22 12/23
Dell 12/16 12/17 12/21
JCPenney 12/18 12/22 2pm CT 12/23 2pm CT 12/16 12/ 21 12/23
Kohls 12/17 noon EST 12/19 3pm EST 12/21 11pm EST
Macy’s 12/21 12/22 12/22
Meritline 12/18 12/22 2pm CT 12/23 2pm CT
Newegg 12/16 12/21 12/22
Office Depot 12/23 5pm local 12/23 5pm local 12/23 5pm local
Office Max 12/17 6pm EST 12/23 5pm local 12/23 5pm local
Overstock 12/17 9:59pm EST 12/21 9:59pm EST 12/23 8:00am EST
Sears 12/18 12/23 9am EST 12/23 9am EST
Staples 12/11 12/18 12/20
Target 12/18 12/22 12/22
TigerDirect 12/17 7pm ET 12/21 5pm ET 17 12/22 5pm ET 18
Toys R Us 12/18 12pm ET 12/22 12pm ET 12/22 12pm ET
Victoria’s Secret 12/18 3pm ET 12/22 3pm ET 12/23 3pm ET
Walmart 12/20 12/21 12/22
FedEX: 12/17 12/21 12/23
UPS: 12/16 12/23

Entry Filed under: Shopping

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. New Marketing Gimmick &hellip  |  December 16th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    [...] out your wallet and buy more stuff. Will merchants do guaranteed delivery after tomorrow? Here is a list of shipping deadlines and some useful tips on what to buy for a holiday gift if you are a [...]

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