If you’re planning on shipping Christmas presents and sending Christmas cards to loved ones out of town, here’s what you need to know about getting those packages to them on time.

The U.S. Postal Service says it's expecting to handle 900 million packages through New Year's Eve and they say the sooner you get those packages in the mail the better. Even if you use the overnight shipping option through the post office, FedEx, or UPS, in many cases it won't be overnight and will take a few days during the holiday season.

So here’s what you need to know:

If you ship via the Post Office and you use retail ground shipping, you’ll need to get those packages off by Friday, December 14. You can use the Priority Mail, Express up until Saturday, December 22.

If you use FedEx and use Ground shipping, you'll need to do that by Friday, December 14. You can use Overnight Services up until Friday, December 21.

If you go with UPS, you can use Ground shipping until Friday, December 14, and Next Day Air Services until Saturday, December 22.

No matter what service you're using to ship, make sure you pack everything securely so that those Christmas presents get there safely and in one piece. UPS has a good packing guideline page on its website. Among other things, they recommend that you use shipping tape and make sure the address label is written legibly.