By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s nearly time to wrap up your holiday shopping, as Christmas is just five days away.

The deadline to get your pieces of holiday cheer in the mail has arrived. The U.S. Post Office says it needs your letters and packages by the end of Thursday.

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Meanwhile, UPS and FedEx have a Friday deadline for holiday delivery.

Additionally, packages sent by Priority Mail Express need to be in the mail by Saturday.

The rush was definitely on at a post office in Golden Valley and other post offices in the metro and around the country. WCCO caught up with Kerry O’Leary, a marketing manager for a Twin Cities brewery who was scrambling to get Christmas orders shipped on time.

“I work for Lakes and Legends Brewing Company and we are making sure that people get their last orders out so we can get them under their tree,” she said.

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Beth Ditter, a marketing consultant, had an armful of gifts for her clients. Asked how important it is for her to get those gifts out in time for Christmas, she replied, “It’s really important because a lot of them will be gone next week trying to get them there so they can enjoy them.”

Retailers are also pushing deadlines. Target’s website says this is the last day for guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. For brick and mortar retailers like Target, the scramble is on to compete with Amazon, which says its prime members can get Christmas Eve delivery for orders placed on Dec. 22.

“Last minute shopping is absolutely critical if you are a retailer because it answers the fundamental question for the consumer,” retired University of St. Thomas marketing professor Jonathon Seltzer said. “When my back is to the wall, when I really need that retailer to be there for me, can they deliver?”

Walmart is also pushing its two-day delivery guarantee for many items, and both Walmart and Target are urging last minute shoppers to take advantage of their service allowing for online ordering for in-store pickup.

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If you miss today’s deadlines and some of the earlier ones, you still have options. It is just going to cost you more. Amazon Prime membership, which guarantees delivery for orders placed on Saturday, Dec. 22, will cost you $119 a year. Express Mail Shipping at the U.S Post Office, which guarantees delivery in time for Christmas, starts at $24.70.

Esme Murphy