• iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Christmas falls on a Monday this year, which is good news if you’re planning to hit the stores over the weekend. But if you’re planning to buy online or ship, the deadlines are creeping up.With more than 2 billion packages going out this holiday, your safest and cheapest bet is to take care of business now, ABC News chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis said.Here are Jarvis’ top tips for securing the perfect gifts for everyone on your list at the very last minute.Order by Dec. 19If you’re ordering online, many retailers have Dec. 19 as the cut-off date for standard shipping. It’s a good idea to double-check, though, because a few retailers have Dec. 18 as the cut-off, Jarvis said.If you are sending the gift yourself, today is also an important deadline for the least expensive options to get it there by Christmas.Shipping deadlinesMonday, Dec. 18: UPS three-day selectTuesday, Dec. 19: FedEx Express Saver and USPS first class (this includes greeting cards)Wednesday, Dec. 20: FedEx two-day, UPS 2nd Day Air, USPS Priority MailThursday, Dec. 21: FedEx Overnight, UPS Next Day AirFriday, Dec. 22: USPS Priority Mail ExpressMonday, Dec. 25: FedEx Same DayU.S. Postal Service is the best bet for cheapest priceConsumer Reports analyzed USPS, FedEx and UPS delivery services and prices for deliveries between 30 pairs of cities and found that if cost is your main concern, the postal service is often the way to go. If you’re really leaving things to the last minute and you need a service that delivers on Christmas day, your best bet is the U.S. Postal Service.The USPS’ priority mail express money-back guaranteed delivery service operates 365 days a year, including Christmas day in many markets, Jarvis explained. There’s a $12.50 surcharge for this.You have until Friday, Dec. 22, for Priority Mail Express to deliver by Christmas Day, Dec. 25, Jarvis said.Best option overall for last-minute shoppersIf you are late in the game, Jarvis said, Amazon is your other best option, besides heading to the stores.Dec. 22 is the cutoff for two-day shipping, which is free for Amazon Prime members.Dec. 23 is the cutoff for one-day shipping, which is available for some cities but is free for Prime members.Dec. 24 is the cutoff for same-day delivery and two-hour delivery.Consumer website BestBlackFriday.com rounded up a list of the last day you can order from many popular online retailers in order to ensure that your purchase is delivered by Christmas.This roundup is also useful for planning purposes, but be sure to double-check the delivery details of your order before making a purchase. A full list of deadlines can be found on Best Black Friday's website.AmazonDec. 15: This is the last day you can order from Amazon and have your items ship for free -- with a $25 minimum purchase -- and ensure they are delivered before Christmas.Dec. 18: This is the last day you can order from Amazon and have your items ship with the standard shipping option and still ensure they are delivered before Christmas.Dec. 22: This is the last day you can order with two-day shipping and have your items arrive in time for Christmas.Dec. 23 and 24: Amazon offers same-day or two-hour delivery options in some cities, although the shipping cost may be much higher.Best BuyDec. 19: This marks the last day that you can order large home delivery items and ensure their arrival by Christmas.Dec. 20: 10:30 a.m. CT on this day marks the last time that you can order most items and ensure their delivery by Christmas.Dec. 24: If you order your items before noon on this day with same-day delivery, you may be able to ensure their arrival before Christmas. In addition, if you order online before 4 p.m. on this day with the in-store pickup option, you may also be able to get your items before Christmas.Dick's Sporting GoodsDec. 18: If you order online by 11:59 p.m. ET on this day with the free standard shipping option,
    Read more...
  • Disney(LOS ANGELES) -- If you can't get enough of BB-8 -- the rolling droid that first captured geeks' hearts in The Force Awakens and returns in The Last Jedi -- you're in luck. The company Spin Master has created a nearly full-sized BB-8, which looks and acts as if it rolled right out of that galaxy far, far away. Even for the special effects wizards at Lucasfilm, getting the droid to roll and "act" on his own was once impossible. On The Force Awakens, it took a combination of puppeteering and other tricks to get him to move onscreen.  But after that movie was done, the special effects team managed to make a functioning BB that could roll around without wires or puppeteers.The new and improved droid made a surprise debut at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in 2015: fans there, who assumed BB was a computer-generated character, flipped when a "practical" BB rolled out onstage.  Now, Spin Master has taken all that capability -- and more -- and crammed it into their nearly 1:1 scale Hero Droid BB-8.Not only can the toy be driven with remote control, but it interacts with its surroundings, complete with the droid's sounds and mannerisms from the movies.  There are even voice controls and a Follow Me mode, meaning the little droid can dutifully roll behind you on all your adventures, just like the one from the movies.The Hero Droid BB-8 is now in stores, just in time for the holidays.Star Wars is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The more than one thousand-page tax bill released by House and Senate Republicans on Friday evening moves the needle closer to possible passage of sweeping legislation that could impact millions of Americans.The bill provides provisions for deep tax cuts for corporations, tax breaks for the wealthy, and what experts say are more limited benefits for middle-class Americans.
    Read more...
  • Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Want to avoid travel snafus? FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney has a few tips on how to do just that.
    Read more...
  • Ruth Espiricueta(EDINBURG, Texas) -- A first grader's heartbreaking letter to Santa has spurred a flood of donations, after her teacher shared the humble wish list on social media.Ruth Espiricueta, a first-grade teacher at Monte Cristo Elementary School in Edinburg, Texas, asked her students this week to write a letter to Santa Claus about something they want and something they need, after a lesson about the difference between the two. When school was dismissed for the day, Espiricueta began reading the letters and was taken aback in particular by one student's note.The 7-year-old girl wrote to Santa, “I have [been] good this day. This Christmas I would like a ball and a food. I need a [blanket].”"I never expected for students to ask for things we usually take for granted," Espiricueta told ABC News. "I was heartbroken because no one should ever go hungry or be cold on winter nights."The next day, Espiricueta asked the student about her letter to Santa. The girl said she wanted a ball, rather than a doll, so both she and her brother could play with the toy. She told the teacher she wanted eggs for food."I had no idea she was going through hard times being that she is always at school with a big smile," Espiricueta said of her student. "Her act of unselfishness made me realize that I needed to share this with others."The girl was not the only student to ask for basic necessities in her letter to Santa, Espiricueta said."Unfortunately, there are other students that as part of their needs they included food, towels, blankets, pillows, bed, clothes, shoes and a stove," the teacher told ABC News. "Some of my students were not even excited about Christmas because they know that their parents can not afford to buy a Christmas tree or gifts for them."More than one in five children in Texas -- about 22.4 percent -- live in poverty, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.Espiricueta said she couldn't bear the thought of her own child going hungry or cold. So she shared a photo of her student's letter on Facebook on Wednesday, hoping to help the students and their families in need. People immediately offered to donate to the student as well as to others at the school.The letter inspired the principal at Monte Cristo Elementary School to start a donation drive, with a goal of collecting 724 blankets to give to each student. So far, 616 blankets have been donated."She is happy her friends will also be receiving a blanket to stay warm," Espiricueta said.
    Read more...
  • Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The first daughter has expanded her fashion empire, opening a new Ivanka Trump-branded store in the lobby of New York City's Trump Tower.The shop carries handbags, jewelry and gifts such as scented candles and Christmas ornaments. Shoes and clothing will be added to the store's stock next year, according to reports. The line dropped its fine jewelry collection, and has been offering more affordable items. The entire collection is sold online.Various styles of tote bags are $298, for example, while there are several jewelry pieces priced under $100.The Ivanka Trump store is just one of several Trump-branded business in Trump Tower. Others include Trump Grill, Trump Cafe and Trump Bar.While the building is open to the public, visitors first walk past automatic-weapon-toting NYPD officers stationed at the building's entrance, followed by a metal detector screening.Ivanka Trump, who officially serves as her father's assistant, did not divest from her business upon joining the president's administration. She instead placed her assets in a trust. She also gave up day-to-day management of the company. And while she does not tweet about the business from her personal social media accounts, the @IvankaTrumpHQ twitter handle often posts photos of the collection.Opening up her own store bypasses relying on department store accounts, some of which balked at carrying Trump's collection following her father's victory.First, Nordstrom stopped carrying Ivanka Trump-branded clothing, citing declining sales, which caused shopper boycotts. Then Neiman Marcus followed suit, saying it was also dropping the line.After Nordstrom dropped the line, President Trump jumped to his daughter's defense."My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom," the president tweeted in February. "She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!"Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...