An employee stacks boxes filled with merchandise for shipment at the Inc. distribution center in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
Updated: December 16, 2014 10:07 AM ET | Originally published: December 15, 2014 11:32 AM EST

The perils of shopping for holiday gifts online or sending packages too close to an impending birthday or holiday are well known. It’s all too easy to click ‘place order’ a day late and leave your Christmas stockings un-stocked because your order didn’t arrive on time.

Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, has a huge budget devoted to processing its holiday orders quickly this year. The company recently installed some 15,000 high-tech Kiva robots in its fulfillment centers to whisk items quickly into delivery, and last year, Amazon inked a deal with the U.S. Postal Service to offer Sunday shipping through the season.

There’s no question shipping is squeezing the company’s finances: Amazon spent about $6.64 billion on shipping last year, but only took in about $3.1 billion in shipping payments.

Helpfully, Amazon has a way to make sure you get your online shopping done on time: a simple chart that tells customers when to buy Christmas gifts before it’s too late.

If you live in one of the contiguous 48 states, here are all the last days you can order a present from Amazon if you want to make sure it arrives before wrapping day (December 24).

Free Shipping (Non-Prime) — December 19

Standard Shipping — December 19

Two-Day Shipping — December 22

One-Day Shipping — December 23

Local Express Delivery — December 24

For Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, check out Amazon’s website.

As far as shipping other gifts to your relatives, the rules are a little more complicated because of all the parcel delivery services in the U.S. But no fear—TIME has compiled a list of handy deadlines for shipping gift packages via UPS, USPS and FedEx to friends and family in time for Christmas Eve arrival. A quick caveat: Unexpected weather and human error can always cause unexpected delays with any shipping service, so the earlier your order your gifts, the safer you’ll be.


The last day to ship with FedEx via the standard ground shipping for pre-Christmas delivery is Wednesday, December 17.

For FedEx Express, the last day is Tuesday, December 23.


Do all your standard package shipping with the government-run postal service by Monday, December 15.

For sending greeting cards and priority mail, the last day is Saturday, December 20.

And for procrastinators out there, Priority Mail Express can be used until December 23.


For standard ground shipping with UPS, send all your packages out by Thursday, December 18.

For UPS 3 Day Select, it’s Friday, December 19.

For UPS 2nd Day Air, you have until Monday, December 22.

For UPS Next Day Air, rely on Tuesday, December 23.

And if things get really urgent and you’re welling to shell out the bucks, UPS Express Critical by December 24 will get the job done.

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