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How to find the perfect last-minute gift on Amazon

Key Points
  • You can still find a perfect last-minute gift on Amazon, you just need to know where to look.
  • Amazon has a bunch of tools for narrowing down your search, which can help you find a gift for a specific age group or interest.
  • You can also shop by delivery day, or shop someone's wish list.
Man making gift. 
eclipse_images | E+ | Getty Images

If you're like me, you might still be searching for a couple of last-minute gifts for the holidays. You can always try to fight the crowds at a retail store, or you can consider some of these tips and tricks for shopping on Amazon.

And, if you're worried it might not arrive on time, you might not have to be. UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service are more prepared than they were in previous years for a surge in shipping deadlines from online orders.

Here are a few tips for buying a last-minute gift on Amazon.

How to narrow down Amazon's huge gift guide

Amazon has a huge gift guide broken down into sections including electronics, home goods, clothing, toys and more. It even has sections for geeky gifts, white elephant exchanges, gifts under $20, unique gifts and stocking stuffers.

Or, if you're shopping for men, women, teens, kids 8-12, kids 4-7 or babies, there are entire sub-sections for those, too.

Just follow the links I've included to search each area, then filter down by specific topics for each area by clicking the links at the top of each page. If you pick babies, for example, you can then choose "bath time" or "nursery decor." If you're looking for gifts for kids 8-12, you can narrow down the search by selecting "building toys" or "super heroes."

Also note the small check box on the top-right of the page that lets you narrow for Prime-only results that offer free shipping. And next to that, there's a drop-down that lets you narrow your search by price, too.

So, if you're shopping for a best friend who's 40 years old, you might first choose the gifts for men section, filter down to "home improvement" choose "up to $30" and Amazon will suggest a bunch of useful gifts from a book titled "Home Maintenance for Dummies" to tool kits that are in your price range. And all of the recommendations that I saw were highly rated.

How to shop last-minute deals

Amazon is still offering a lot of popular and highly-rated items at discounts. Each day it has a list of "deals of the day, " and it seems to include better items than it does throughout the rest of the year, excluding Amazon Prime day.

The super-popular Instant Pot was on sale at the time of publication, for example, but so were blenders, cookware, tools and the entire Seinfeld collection on DVD.

It's a bit of a shot in the dark, but it's worth checking this section to see if you can get a gift at a decent discount, too.

How to filter by delivery day

If you already have an idea of what you want to get someone, but just want to make sure it arrives on time, you can do that on Amazon too, so long as you're an Amazon Prime subscriber. This doesn't work as well in the gift guides I discussed above, since they don't let you filter by delivery day, but you can do this with a regular Amazon search. Here's how to filter down to next-day delivery:

  • Search for an item on Amazon, like "headphones."
  • Narrow down by "Delivery Day" on the left of the page by tapping "Get it by Tomorrow."
  • Amazon will show a list of items that can be delivered for free in one day.
  • You're not out of the clear yet.
  • Now, as you select the item, make sure that the color and model you want still say they'll be delivered the next day.
  • Also, double check to see if it says "delivered tomorrow for FREE with qualifying orders over $35." If you're not spending more than $35, you'll have to pay more for next-day delivery. Some items don't have this qualifier.
  • Finally, triple check that it will be delivered the next day in your cart. Sometimes this can change as you enter in the delivery address.
Ask for a wish list

If you really don't know what to get someone, consider asking them to share their Amazon wish list. And, if they haven't started one, let them know how to make it and how to share it with you.

Here's how to create and share a wish list with someone.

  • Tapping "Accounts & Lists" on the top-right of the page.
  • Tap "Create List" on the right-side of the page.
  • Select "Wish List."
  • Name it something like "gift ideas."
  • Keep it private.
  • Now choose "Invite" at the top of your list page.
  • Copy the link and send it to someone, or choose "invite by email."

Now, when you're shopping, you can add items to your wish list by doing this:

  • Visit the page of an item you have your eye on.
  • Instead of tapping "add to cart" or "buy now" select the option below that box for "Add to list."
  • Your item will be added to your wish list.
  • If you have multiple lists, you can move it to a different one by selecting the "move" option and choosing a different list name.
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