and most days preceding it, you should consider Fed-Ex Ground for shipping. It must not be well-known but there's an official Fed-Ex station on Division just west of Halsted and south of Division on Hooker St. For the last two Xmas holidays there have been no lines and there's no parking problem either since there's a small parking lot adjoining the building.
Some Fed-Ex hints:
1) Fed-Ex Ground seems to be faster than either UPS or the U.S. Post office and cheaper or comparable in terms of rates.
2) Use of those seductive Fed-Ex post boxes normally incurs approximately $10 in fees over and above regular shipping charges. You can beat this either by using the Fed-Ex/Kinko's stores or the station on Hooker mentioned previously. Also, if you have a Fed-Ex account the surcharge disappears altogether. There's no charge for opening up an account which enables use of your credit card for billing.
3) I've found that Fed-Ex employees are not particularly deft at figuring out the charges accurately. If you have an account though, all the mystery disappears since the computer is smart enough to provide correct answers.
Hours at the Hooker station, actually listed on the web as 875 W. Division are user-friendly. They are 8AM-9:30PM daily and 8AM-5PM on Saturdays. No actual shipping on Saturday, though.
Phone Fed-Ex at 1.800.463.3339 or try the website www.fedex.com.