Mark your calendars so packages arrive on time during the busy holiday season

CHICAGO — Delivery trucks are out in full force for the holidays, dropping off boxes and other mail in the home stretch of what's expected to be another record-breaking year.

FedEx already averages 14 million packages nationwide every day. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver more than 900 million packages and nearly 15 billion pieces of mail.

"It is a busy time of year. There's a lot of coffee that's had," said Chicago FedEx Express Senior Manager Michael Murphy.

A major game-changer for the entire industry has been the millions of people who now do all their holiday shopping online. In a statement, the USPS said one result is there is no longer a "busiest day" of the year. Rather, things ramp up starting on December 10, and gets busiest between December 17-23.

"I've been with FedEx for 14 years, and the dynamic has completely changed. E-commerce specifically had dramatically changed our volume," Murphy said.

Online shopping has changed the shipping industry so dramatically that many of the carriers end up hiring more than half of their seasonal help full-time once the holidays are over. Murphy said they're up to 55,000 seasonal FedEx employees, and many are expected to remain on as full-time workers.

Whatever service you choose, these are the shipping deadlines to send mail within the mainland U.S. for guaranteed delivery by December 25 (Source: U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS):

  • December 10:
    FedEx SmartPost
  • December 14:
    USPS Retail Ground
    UPS Ground
  • December 17:
    FedEx Home Delivery
  • December 18:
    UPS 3-Day Select
  • December 19:
    FedEx Express
  • December 20:
    FedEx 2Day
    USPS First-Class Mail, First-Class packages, Priority Mail
    UPS 2nd Day Air
  • December 21:
    FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, First Overnight
  • December 22:
    USPS Priority Mail Express
    UPS Next Day Air
  • December 25:
    FedEx SameDay