Let the holiday shipping frenzy begin; Free Shipping Day coming up

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PHOENIX -- Crunch time is here. Christmas is less than two weeks away, which means shipping companies are kicking operations into high gear to help ensure that your gifts arrive at their intended destinations on time.

According to FedEx, Monday will be the busiest day in the company's history. Some 290,000 FedEx employees are serving as Santa's helpers, moving millions of package from point A to point under-the-tree.

The company expects to move more than 17 million packages on Monday alone. That double the volume the company handles on a regular day.

All told, FedEx said more that 260 million packages will pass through its system during the holiday season. To accommodate the crush, FedEx has hire about 20,000 seasonal workers.

FedEx isn't the only shipping company that's shifted into holiday gear.

The clock is definitely ticking, but if you're not quite ready to send off your holiday cheer,  you still have a little bit of time.

Both FedEx and UPS say if you get your packages to them by Dec. 23, they'll get them where they need to be by Christmas. The deadline for those using DHL and USPS is Dec. 22. Of course, waiting until the last minute will cost you a little more, so you might want to plan ahead a little.

Here are some dates to keep in mind for FedEx, UPS and USPS.

FedEx

  • FedEx Ground, Dec. 16
  • FedEx Home Delivery, Dec. 19
  • FedEx Express (fastest), Dec. 24

UPS

  • UPS Ground, Dec. 22
  • UPS 2nd Day Air, Dec. 22 for packages processed today and labeled for delivery on Saturday, Dec. 24 (otherwise delivered Dec. 27).
  • UPS Next Day Air, Dec 23 for packages processed Dec. 23 and labeled for delivery on Saturday, Dec. 24 (otherwise delivered Dec. 27).

USPS

  • Parcel Post, Dec. 15
  • Letters and cards, Dec. 20
  • Priority Mail, Dec. 21
  • Express Mail, Dec. 22

If you still have some shopping to do, you can save a little money by shipping for free. Free Shipping Day is Friday, Dec. 16. (Send yourself a reminder.) More than 2,000 merchants are expected to take part. Not only will your shipping be free, your items will arrive by Christmas Eve -- as long as you're shipping within the contiguous United States.