So you waited until the last minute to do your holiday shopping. It’s not your fault, really—there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, so even hyper-organized shoppers are scrambling. (Hanukkah is relatively late this year, so if that’s the holiday you’re celebrating, you can’t use that excuse for waiting until the last minute.)
To help, we’re breaking down everything you need to know during the homestretch of the holiday shopping season. Grab your list, and get ready to create your game plan.
There’s still time to get items shipped before the holidays. Many retailer websites normally require a minimum purchase to trigger free shipping, but for the holidays, retailers like Target, Bloomingdale’s and Best Buy have waived that threshold on most items. Also, Amazon is offering free ground shipping — no Prime membership or spending minimum required.
If you find that you really waited until the last possible second (or you still haven’t found a gift for that hard-to-shop-for person), Amazon Prime members can purchase items from the mega retailer all the way up until December 24 and still receive them in time for Christmas Day with Prime free same-day delivery, and free two-hour delivery from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market will be available on Christmas Eve in select areas. Prime members also have access to free one-day delivery with no minimum purchase through December 23.
Plus, CNN Underscored will be keeping track of the best deals leading up to the big day (even the ones that won’t make it in time to be wrapped up under the tree), so be sure to check back often (and follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook) for a heads up on holiday shopping discounts from your favorite retailers.
Buy online, pick up in-store
Worried your stuff still won’t arrive in time? Remove shipping from the equation entirely by buying online and picking up in-store. Many major retailers, including Kohl’s, Macy’s, JCPenney, Gap, Nordstrom, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Apple and Home Depot offer this service. Some, including The Container Store, Walmart, Sears, Kmart, CVS and Target, will deliver the goods curbside, so you won’t even have to leave your car and brave the cold to get your gifts.
If you’re planning to shop in-store and want to avoid the crowds, retailers like Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Dollar General and Dollar Tree are opening earlier and closing later. In some cases, you can shop as early as 7 a.m., and as late as 11 p.m.
With little extras to enhance your experience, shopping in-store might be more fun (and less of a hassle) than you’re expecting. Sam’s Club, for example, has in-store holiday tastings include desserts from December 20 through December 22 and wings and other apps from December 27 through December 29.
Don’t forget the pharmacy
Your local pharmacy chains, like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens, are usually open late—even on Christmas Eve— and they carry a surprising range of gift options. From photo books with same-day pickup (starting at $6.99 for a small 4x6 book; CVS.com) to Ferrero Rocher Chocolates ($5.79; CVS.com), there are more options than you might expect at the drugstore.
Get expert help
Chances are, you still haven’t decided what some of those last-minute gifts will be. (If you knew what to buy, you probably would have done it already.) CNN Underscored has your back with gift guides tailor-made for every type of person on your list, from fitness junkies and gadget gurus to foodies and astrology aficionados.
Since shopping on Amazon is always an easy option, peruse our guide to the best 5-star-rated gifts on the site. And if you need a few extra gifts for the kids, check out our guide for kids at every age as well as our favorite stocking stuffers. There’s still time for free shipping from Nordstrom; be sure to check out our guide. Still stumped? We have over 100 top-notch gift ideas right this way.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.