For many, writing and sending Christmas cards in the post is as much of a festive tradition as putting up the tree or stuffing the turkey.
And Royal Mail staff at the Leeds Mail Centre today (Tuesday) had their busiest day of the year - as they sorted through a massive pile of 5.2 million letters and parcels - all which need to reach houses across the UK in time for the big day.
Workers at the huge office in south Leeds spend hours carefully scanning and sorting all the post sent and received in Yorkshire - and there are 900 extra staff over Christmas to cope with the extra load.
Plant manager James Jack said: “I love this time of year.
“There’s such a buzz, and it never stops.
“Sorting the mail is a 24-hour operation, and we do a cracking job.
“Staff have such a passion for getting it right.”
The letters and cards received are sorted into postal location, before being put into sacks for the waiting postmen and women to take to deliver.
There are even two full-time staff members at this time of year to ensure that even misdirected cards without a full address are delivered to the right person.
And James revealed his hot tips for this year’s most popular Christmas present: “We’re seeing hundreds of Build-A-Bears coming through - yesterday we had four huge trucks full of them.”
The Build-A-Bears come through the sorting centre’s state of the art Medium Parcel Conveyer scanner - the first in the UK.
It scans the parcels for their size and weight, and allows customers to track them, so they will know just when to expect a special delivery on their doorstep.
And there’s one man in particular who receives an extraordinary amount of post at this time of year.
James said: “We get thousands of letters to Santa Claus to send on to Reindeerland.
“They all get dispatched to special Royal Mail elves, who also ensures that each child who writes a letter gets a reply as long as they enclose their address.”
Post sorter Lisa Jackson, who helped sift through the millions of parcels and letters, said: “I absolutely love this time of year at work. I’m just like a child.”
The last posting dates this year are December 19 for second class, December 21 for first class and December 23 for special delivery.