Want Your Christmas Gifts to Arrive on Time? These Are the Shipping Deadlines to Know


There’s still time to order Christmas presents online for this year, but you’ll have to act fast if you want to receive your toys, gadgets, and other miscellaneous gifts by December 25. Consumer Reports recently rounded up a list of holiday shipping deadlines for 2018 from FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, and several popular retailers, and they're coming up fast.

Ideally, holiday orders should be placed between December 10 and December 18 at the very latest for delivery within the U.S., depending on which shipping service you use. Consumer Reports said online shopping orders are expected to be “off the charts this year,” which could slow down shipping.

If you want to take advantage of lower standard shipping rates, FedEx recommends placing Christmas orders before December 10 for its FedEx SmartPost service. For the U.S. Postal Service’s basic ground shipping option, orders should be placed by December 14, while UPS promises to deliver your packages on time as long as you order by December 18. Premium shipping options are also available, and those orders can be placed between December 22 and December 25, depending on the service.

Amazon, which recently announced it will offer free holiday shipping to U.S. customers this year without requiring any minimum spending threshold, hasn’t set any holiday-specific shipping deadlines yet. However, Consumer Reports notes that most Amazon deliveries take three to 10 days to arrive via standard shipping.

You may also want to consider holding out for Free Shipping Day, which will be observed by hundreds of online retailers on December 14. Don’t stress about the timing, though—they promise to get your presents to you by Christmas Eve.

Head to the Consumer Reports website for more detailed shipping guidelines, and keep checking for updates as other retailers announce their holiday-specific deadlines.

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]