Busiest shipping and delivery days are here: Know your deadlines

SEATTLE -- Santa's real elves are doing the heavy grunt right now, but they're not at the North Pole. Rather, they're right up your street, driving block to block delivering packages.

Monday was the busiest shipping day of the year, and Tuesday will be the biggest delivery day of the year in an unusually short Christmas shopping season. The traditional beginning, Thanksgiving arrived much later in the month of November.

United Parcel Service, the world's largest shipping company, will ship 34 million packages on Monday. Drivers like Craig Jensen will be logging a long day Tuesday when 29 million packages will be delivered.

"That's 300 a second," Jensen said.

For three years, Jensen has working his route in the hilly Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. He knows the number of every flight of stairs he delivers to on a regular basis.

"It pays to know every step, especially when your working at night," he said.

UPS expects to deliver 129 million packages this week. The company owns and operates 237 planes but has leased an additional 23 aircraft just for holiday delivery. It's also added 55,000 seasonal workers.

It's not too late to send your package and make it there by Christmas. Here are some important deadlines to remember:

Dec. 17 - UPS Ground (packages shipped via UPS Ground take from one to seven business days to deliver)
Dec. 21 - UPS Second Day Air
Dec. 23 - UPS Next Day Air

Dec. 17 - FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground
Dec. 19 - FedEx Express Saver
Dec. 21 - FedEx 2Day and FedEx 2Day A.M.
Dec. 23 - FedEx Overnight

United States Postal Service
Dec. 20 - First Class Mail
Dec. 21 - Priority Mail
Dec. 23 - Priority Mail Expres