It's 10 days before Christmas, and the crunch is on.
FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service say Monday is their busiest day of the year. Both predict moving a record-setting amount of stuff. Unlike last year, though, when a snowstorm and logistical glitches kept many people from getting their Christmas presents on time, the carriers say they're ready for this year's surge.
The Postal Service said it will process more than 640 million cards, letters and packages Monday. FedEx said it will move 22.6 million shipments. FedEx senior vice president of services Patrick Fitzgerald told CNBC on Monday the company was ready with more trucks, more workers and more than 600 planes to ferry packages around the world.
"We have been meeting with customers for months," said Susan Rosenberg, spokeswoman for UPS, which predicted it will move 34 million packages on its peak day next Monday. "We've got a lot of smart engineers that are calculating and using algorithms [for] predicting volume."
While this is reassuring, shoppers can take some proactive steps to make sure their packages arrive on time.
For starters, send gifts straight to recipients. This cuts down on the time that package will be sitting on a plane or truck. (It also makes returns easier if they have to exchange your gift, since they'll have all the shipping information.)
Besides making sure the address is correct, don't re-use boxes, especially if they have old labels on them, FedEx packing expert Cordell Golden said.
Choose your carrier wisely, if you have the option. CNBC said that since Black Friday, UPS has taken an average of just over five days to ship, while FedEx is just under six days and the Postal Services is a little over six days.
Pay attention to cutoff dates for on-time Christmas delivery. Monday is the last day regular postal mail is guaranteed to arrive on time. The cutoff for FedEx Ground service is Wednesday, and UPS Ground has a Thursday cutoff.