Sound the alarm: There are just nine shopping days left before Christmas.

There are even fewer days left if you plan to shop online and have things shipped in time for the big day.

But have no fear, it’s not too late. And I even have a few ways you can avoid paying shipping costs.

• Amazon Prime. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, which gets you free, two-day shipping on millions of items. Many companies offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount – at Amazon, it’s $35 – but with Amazon Prime, there’s no minimum purchase threshold. The items just have to be eligible for Prime shipping and, like I said, millions of them are.

Usually, a membership is $79 for the year, but as long as you are sure to un-click the little automatic renewal button when you sign up, you won’t be charged and can enjoy the benefit of free shopping during the Christmas crunch when it matters most.

That way, instead of schlepping through the mall with crabby or curious kids in tow, you can click a few buttons on your smartphone during your lunch break, order everything you need, and have it magically appear on your doorstep 48 hours later.

You’ll even get emails (and text message alerts, if you choose) letting you know when your orders have been processed, shipped and delivered. All that’s left for you to do is stand there gazing at the chest-high piles of boxes, marveling at the wonders of modern technology.

If you have an email address ending in “.edu,” sign up for a free trial of Amazon Student instead. It gets you the same free shipping benefits, but the trial lasts a whopping six months. If you’re a parent, you can opt for Amazon Mom, which gives you a free three-month trial.

Just visit and click “try Prime” in the upper right-hand corner. Once you click there, you’ll see options to click on Amazon Student and Amazon Mom under the giant, yellow “Start your 30-day free trial button.”

• Free Shipping Day is Wednesday, when more than 650 retailers will offer free shipping in a last-gasp effort to get your holiday business. Each merchant that registers with the site offers free shipping on all orders starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and promises delivery by Christmas Eve.

• Amazon announced last week that it now offers one-cent shipping on more than 1,000 different wines. To find wines eligible for one-cent shipping, visit

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