The race is on to get everything done for the holidays, and that includes sending gifts to your family and friends. But every year, there’s more Christmas chaos than cheer as people rush to the post office.

We have some tips on how you can avoid shipping stress.

The United States Postal Service expects to deliver more than 15 billion pieces of mail this holiday season, so as you can imagine, they have all hands on deck.

“For the last few months, we’ve been hiring people so we can get our staffing up to par, so we can take on the loads that we’re expecting,” said Julie Utley, who has worked for the United States Postal Service for the past 24 years.

She says this year they’re expecting a 10 percent increase in the number of packages compared to this time last year.

“We’re geared up for that and we’re operating 24/7,” she said. “We know it’s our time to shine … it’s our time to help our customers get their packages to their loved ones.”

That not only entails extra staffing, but also extended hours. For the next three weeks, the Phoenix stations will be open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to try to alleviate long lines.

“We have that on occasions, where it looks like a bus pulled up and a load of people dropped off,” said Utley.

They have tools in place to give customers other options, like the self-service kiosk.

Customers can also use click and ship online.

"They can get free priority flat-rate boxes and put the package outside, in the mailbox, the carrier will pick it up,” she said.

That way you can avoid the post office all together if you choose.

“You want to have the happy holiday experience mailing your packages,” she said.

Be sure to get your packages sent early so they arrive on time.

Here are the big deadlines to get your packages to their destinations by Christmas:

First-class mail is Dec. 19. For Priority Mail, it’s Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 is the deadline for Priority Mail Express.

A few quick tips to make sure your packages are protected:

Avoid sending cash by mail.

Don’t leave delivered mail and packages unattended.

Consider an alternate shipping address or change the package’s address while it’s in transit.

For more holiday shipping information, deadlines and tips, go to: