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Last-minute gaming gifts (and how to get them by Christmas)

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Free two-day shipping isn’t just for Amazon Prime

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So, you put off holiday shopping until the last minute, and now there are only a few days left to find gifts for the remaining friends and family on your list. Now you’re staring down the barrel of a crowded mall in order to pick up presents in time for Christmas festivities.

Don’t give up yet! There’s still time to shop for gifts and avoid the mobs of fellow procrastinators. Here are our best bets on last-minute gifts, plus tips for getting them under your tree before Dec. 25:

Last-minute gifts

Video game consoles are always a top holiday gift; this year since there are no new consoles on the market, you can actually find some at a discount. All Xbox One bundles are $100 off through Christmas Day, as are PlayStation VR bundles. There’s even a few deals on Nintendo Switch consoles — Amazon, Best Buy, Target and GameStop are throwing in a $25 gift card and Walmart bundled the Switch with a half-price Nintendo Labo set. (Check out our best games of 2018 list for suggestions on great games to gift this year as well.)

For board game aficionados, Walmart is running a promotion on strategy and party games. Bestselling games like Pandemic, Exploding Kittens, Catan and (my personal favorite, 7 Wonders) come with up to $20 in digital Walmart gift cards.

When all else fails, digital games, books, comics or movies are a lifesaver. Sure, unwrapping a physical video game, book or DVD is more fun, but you can always put a printout of the cover art in a garment box and wrap that up. If you’re feeling creative, you can make a card with the download code written on the inside.

Free shipping, even without Prime

One of the best perks of Amazon Prime membership is the free two-day shipping, which really comes in handy during holiday crunchtime. Earlier in December, Amazon extended free shipping to all orders with no minimum purchase required, but it’s just standard shipping, not the expedited shipping that comes with Prime.

Non-Prime members aren’t out of luck, though. Walmart, Target and Best Buy are all offering free express shipping on most orders, no membership required. (You could also just sign up for Amazon Prime’s free 30-day trial and cancel before it bills you in January.)

Since Christmas is on a Tuesday this year, weekend/holiday delivery hours are something to consider. Most retailers suggest ordering on or before Thursday, Dec. 20 in order to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve, so there’s not much time left but you can make it if you hurry.

Avoid the lines with in-store pickup

If you don’t get in before that Thursday window, you’re not out of luck. Many retailers now offer free in-store pickup when you order online, often within a few hours. You still have to schlep to a store, but this way you can pick out what you want online and avoid wandering around Best Buy until something catches your eye.

Stores offering free in-store pickup this year include Best Buy, Walmart and Target. Target will even load up your car for you if you order in the Target app.