Are you still recovering from that shipping nightmare last Christmas – when millions of packages were delayed – arriving after the holidays?
Here are the shipping deadlines you should know and a reminder that your shopping might not be over this year, even if you've bought everything on your list.
FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service all say you should be fine shipping Christmas gifts the week of Dec. 13. The ground cutoff is Dec. 15 for both FedEx and the Postal Service. UPS doesn't give a cutoff date but says coast-to-coast takes about a week, meaning it should be shipped no later than Dec. 17.
After what happened last year, however, it's probably safest to get those packages out the week before those deadlines — no later than Dec. 10.
And remember, Hanukkah starts early this year, on the night of Nov. 28, just three days after the Thanksgiving holiday.
FedEx and UPS have both eliminated nearly all their delivery guarantees through the holiday season. The sole exception is UPS Next Day Air, which comes with a hefty price tag.
The rush to ship means people have been shopping earlier, which in turn means returns after the holidays might be harder.
Every year Edgar Dworsky analyzes holiday return policies for his website, consumerworld.org. He says in general, they've become more generous, with retailers extending return windows into January for purchases made over a long period during the holiday season.
"The key is on what date did the holiday return policy begin?" he said.
For Amazon and Target, the holiday return period applies to purchases made on or after Oct. 1. Best Buy's holiday period began Oct. 18. Walmart, Apple and Wayfair began their holiday purchase period on Nov. 1.
If you bought before those dates and still want to return after the holidays, the best tip is to let the person you gave the gift to try and return it, or at the very least ask for store credit.
"If you're the gift recipient, you probably have a few more rights because you don't know when it was purchased," Dworsky said.
Finally, don't forget to keep an eye on the price of something on your gift list, even after you take it home.
"Your shopping shouldn't end with that purchase," Dworsky said. "Don't stop shopping just because you have the item in the house. Keep checking the ads, you may save some additional money."
Target and Best Buy are both offering holiday price matching — although Best Buy excludes prices over Thanksgiving weekend. Otherwise, if they drop the price of something, you can request the difference back.