Writing a letter to Santa is a beloved holiday tradition for many children and families. While some kids leave their wish lists next to a plate of milk and cookies on Christmas Eve, others plan ahead and send their letters straight to Father Christmas himself.
Adults may chuckle and think mailing a letter to Santa is just a cute way to spend a winter afternoon, but the postal service treats these letters pretty seriously! Keep reading to find out what happens when USPS receives Santa letters.
What Does USPS Do With Santa Letters?
Santa letters received by USPS addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole,” “Santa” is processed like other letters. Because they don’t have a complete address, the Postal Service mail sorting equipment separates them from deliverable mail. These letters become part of Operation Santa, a yearly gift-giving program for children in need.
Read to learn more about Santa letters and other Christmas programs run by USPS!
Can You Put Santa Letters in a USPS Mailbox?
You can absolutely put Santa letters in a USPS mailbox.
If a letter is addressed to “Santa,” “Santa Claus,” “Santa Claus, North Pole,” or some other variation, it will be processed just like all other letters.
However, because Santa letters do not have a complete address, the Postal Service mail sorting equipment will process them into a default area.
Default letters are then sorted. Incorrectly addressed mail is taken to one place, and Santa letters are taken to another place.
Santa letters become part of Operation Santa, a yearly USPS initiative designed to give toys, games, and basic necessities to children in need.
While USPS tries its best to make sure all Santa letters get to the right place, the agency recommends sending letters to Santa’s workshop using the following address: 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.
What Is USPS Operation Santa?
Operation Santa is a yearly initiative undertaken by the United States Postal Service.
Its mission is to create a magical holiday for children and families who otherwise may go without—one Santa letter at a time.
Every holiday season USPS receives hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to Santa.
Rather than sorting them as undeliverable mail, the postal service enlists the help of employees, individuals, and charitable organizations to respond to as many letters as possible.
Volunteers can select a letter to respond to by going to USPS’ Operation Santa website.
After selecting a letter, volunteers write a response and purchase a gift mentioned in the child’s letter.
They then bring the package to the post office, where it is mailed to the child.
How Does Operation Santa Work?
If you’re interested in giving back this holiday season, head to the Operation Santa website.
Once your registration is complete, select a letter that touches you. Write a reply, purchase the requested items, and package them for shipping.
When you adopt a letter, you’ll also receive an address label that you’ll need to print out and bring with you when you’re ready to mail.
This address label will not have the child’s name or printed address on it. Instead, you’ll see a barcode. Barcode labels are a privacy measure designed to protect children’s personal information.
Most post offices will be able to accommodate this kind of label, but it’s still worth checking which branches offer a “label broker” service.
If you try to buy postage at a branch without a label broker service, you might be refused after waiting in a long line.
That’s because USPS employees are not permitted to place postage on packages without an address.
You can find a post office near you with label broker services by heading to the USPS website. Note: wait until the end to fill in your zip code.
- Under Filtered by, select Post Offices in the drop-down menu.
- Under Services, select Label Broker in the drop-down menu.
- Under Within, select the number of miles you’re willing to travel to find a “Label Broker” post office.
- Fill in your zip code list, and click on Search.
Once you’ve found a location nearby, bring your items, letter, and barcode label to the post office to be mailed. The postal worker will scan your barcode label, and you’ll pay for the shipping at that time.
How Do I Get a Santa Letter From USPS?
Operation Santa isn’t the only way USPS gets into the holiday spirit.
They also run a program called “Greetings from the North Pole Office.” This program adds excitement to the Christmas season and gets kids interested in letter writing, stamps, and penmanship.
Children are invited to mail a letter or a wish list to the North Pole at the following address:
North Pole Holiday Postmark, Postmaster, 4141 Postmark Dr, Anchorage, AK 99530-9998
In return, they’ll receive a personalized letter from Santa delivered right to their mailbox. There are two ways to do this.
First, you can mail your child’s letter to the address above, and a volunteer will respond.
Because it relies on volunteers, this method is less controlled, and there’s a chance your child will not receive a letter.
To ensure your child receives a letter back from Santa, you can write a letter “from Santa” highlighting your child’s accomplishments over the past year.
For example, helping around the house, earning good grades, or being kind to siblings.
Put this letter in an envelope and attach a Forever stamp. Then place the envelope in a larger envelope addressed to the address above (with postage, of course).
Your child will receive a letter back in the mail with a North Pole mark on the stamp.
Whichever method you choose, USPS recommends sending letters by December 7, so they have time to reach Alaska in time.