Holiday happenings

We all need a little bit of Santa’s magic

By Tatiana Roy

Can you believe it’s already that time of year? In the event you have no idea what I am talking about, think mistletoe, sentimental holiday movies and Santa Claus. Yes, I’m talking about the holiday season. I love everything about this time of year – decorating my house, watching movies and hearing stories about how people are helping others. The holidays are a time when some of us start reflecting about our lives and how fortunate we are. For others, the holiday season creates anxiety, stress and sadness.

The Postal Service’s wonderful program USPS Operation Santa provides options for those who need to receive some extra magic this holiday season and for those in a position to give a little magic. If you need some magic, just write a letter to Santa. If you want to give back and anonymously help others, you can adopt a letter to Santa.

a child's hand written letter with a drawing.

On November 28, you can go online and adopt a child or a family. Then the magic happens. Each year, thousands of families are touched by the kindness and generosity of strangers who generously fulfilled their children’s wishes.

For those who want to participate in USPS Operation Santa by adopting a letter, USPS Operation Santa is now open for registration and identity verification. Go to USPSOperationSanta.com and start the process. Keep in mind, you only need to register and get your ID verified if you are adopting a letter. If you or your children sent a letter to Santa, you do not need to register.

Identity verification is an incredibly important step in the registration process. We need to ensure you are who you say you are. Kids and families are involved. No bad actors allowed! The Postal Service takes the privacy and security of the children and families who write to USPS Operation Santa very seriously.

We’ve made the identity verification process easy with online and in-person options. There are now three ways to complete the ID verification process – two online options and if that doesn’t work, you will be instructed to go to a nearby Post Office location for in person verification. And we’ve created a cute infographic/fact sheet to help outline the letter adoption process.

Then, on Monday, November 28 the fun begins! USPS Operation Santa opens for letter adoption.

There are a few things to keep in mind when adopting a letter. You may see a lot of letters with kids asking for expensive items that we all would like. Let’s be realistic, the letter is from a child! What kid doesn’t dream big? I remember when my kids were young and were asked what they wanted for Christmas — they wanted every toy they saw advertised. Did Santa (or their parents) bring them everything? NO! Kids will be kids. You don’t need to fulfill expensive requests and you don’t need to get them everything they ask for. You can either adopt a letter that better suits your budget, or you can find an alternative way to make their holiday special. Sometimes you just can’t fulfill their wish. Such as two-year-old Ava’s request for a baby or Jonah’s wish for a cure for COVID-19! Whether they receive exactly what they asked for or not, getting a gift from Santa is a win for any child!

Please review these helpful shipping hints before you shop and ship your gifts:

  • The price of postage depends on various factors such as the shipping distance, the weight, and the length and width of the package. Using Priority Flat Rate boxes is a good option to control shipping costs. Adopting a letter from your own state is another way. Read our Shipping Guidelines for more information.
  • Get a large Priority Mail Flat Rate box from your local Post Office and take it with you when you go shopping. Only purchase things that can fit in the box. Keep in mind, you can send up to six boxes to each letter writer.
  • Consider a gift card in place of sending larger, heavier items. If you want to send just a gift card, it will need to be sent in a Priority Mail envelope, 4x6 or larger to accommodate the shipping label.

When you adopt a letter you will receive an email with instructions. The email will also have a scannable code and an adoption packet. You will need to take the scannable code and your adoption packet with you when you ship your gift at a Post Office location. If you want to make sure your local Post Office participates, go to usps.com/locator and filter for Label Broker.

Once your gift is shipped, you won’t receive any tracking information. The package is being sent anonymously and the letter writer’s address is private. However, you will receive notifications in your USPSOperationSanta.com profile that your package has shipped and is in transit.

Even though Operation Santa has been around for 110 years, many of you may not realize that the USPS Operation Santa digital program is only three years old! As with many new programs, there are always some kinks that need to be worked out. Please be patient and keep in mind that this program is designed to create holiday magic! And all of the elves behind the scenes are working very hard.

If you still have questions, please refer to our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). These FAQs can be found on the USPSOperationSanta.com website, or right here on usps.com/holidaynews.

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday this season.

USPS Postmaster van illustration.