go with Fed-X ground - NEVER ship UPS. Haven't you read all the horror stories? If you ship UPS you deserve damaged merchandise because you're just begging for it!
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I don't think the the holidays will matter, UPS and Fedx delivery guarantees apply even during the holidays. In reference to rougher handling, I would agree, higher volume may in turn equal more careless handling, I would just overpack the item.
I think, the Fedx vs UPS thing is way overblown, neither of them are that great with packages. I see shipping as a risk either way. I don't think Fedex employees care anymore than UPS employees about your gear. When I received an amp last week, via Fedex Overnight, I saw and could HEAR the box drop from the truck to the ground from my 1st story condo.
And yes, the amp came damaged.