Go to the latest 2015 USPS Santa Mail page

Santa Mail

Letters to Santa

Delivering the holidays, delivering dreams

Santa holiday stamp

The Postal Service’s Letters to Santa program is celebrating 102 years of helping make children’s holiday wishes come true.

Although USPS began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 102 years ago, its involvement was made official in 1912 when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters.

Today, the popular holiday program is known nationwide as Letters to Santa. The exception is New York City, where the city’s own Operation Santa, the largest in the country, responds to more than 500,000 letters each year. Thousands of volunteers work with Post Offices to respond to letters from children of all ages listing their holiday wishes.

Once again this year, employees, members of the public, charitable organizations and corporations can help USPS respond to the letters at Post Offices around the country by participating in the Letters to Santa program.

Operation Santa

New York City’s Operation Santa program is the largest public adoption Post Office in the country, receiving more than a half million letters a season. With that much Santa Mail it stands to reason they need the public’s help. Every year the iconic James A. Farley Building on Eighth Avenue is visited by tens of thousands of people who come to adopt letters. A kick-off celebration is held, usually during the first week of December. The New York City program has changed very little since the 1940s when it was first opened to the public and continues to thrive much to the delight of both the writers and readers of Letters to Santa.

  1. Letters to Santa are mailed by children across the country.
  2. Letters are placed in Letters to Santa/Operation Santa bin during mail processing.
  3. Postal employees open and sort the letters.
  4. The letters are copied and both the original letter and a copy of the letter receive the same number.
  5. After copying, the original letter is filed in numerical order and secured.
  6. On the copy of the letter, all of the child’s personal information is removed by redacting it or blacking it out, then the letter is placed in a public “adoption” area.
  7. Customer comes into the Post Office to adopt a letter to Santa.
  8. The customer presents proper ID to the postal clerk and fills out the appropriate forms PS Forms (6012, 6012-A, 6012-I).
  9. Customer may then read and choose a letter(s), up to ten letters.
  10. The “Secret Santa” leaves with the redacted copy of the letter to fulfill the writer’s request.
  11. The customer returns to the same Post Office with a wrapped gift, preferably boxed and ready to be mailed to the child.
  12. The customer gives the postal clerk the box containing the wrapped gift(s) and the adopted letter.
  13. The postal clerk takes the box and retrieves the original letter (using numbering system) to create a mailing label.
  14. The customer pays the postage to mail the box to the never sees the address for the child.
  15. After the customer departs, the box is addressed by postal employee who will put the address on the box and place it in the mailstream for dispatch.
View samples of letters to Santa

Individual customers and representatives of organizations wanting to adopt a letter must come to a participating Operation Santa Post Office in person. Both individual customers and organizational representatives must fill out the proper PS Forms 6012 (organization), 6012-A (organization record of letter), or 6012-I (individual) and show identification before viewing any letters.

  • For organizations wanting to adopt a letter, please send a representative with correspondence on letterhead from your company/organization authorizing the representative to view the letters on behalf of your company/organization. Your representative must present his or her employee ID and a valid state driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
  • For individuals wanting to adopt a letter, please bring a valid state driver’s license or state-issued ID card.

After completing the forms, you may then read and choose a letter(s). To protect the anonymity of the letter writers, all personal information will be blacked out in the letters you view — no last names, addresses or contact information of any kind will be visible.

Bring your selections to a postal clerk so the clerk can notate which letter(s) you will adopt.

Here is the fun part — you get to be Santa’s helper by fulfilling the wishes of the letter writer.

Once you have fulfilled the wish, you simply bring your wrapped gift(s) back to the same Operation Santa location to mail.

Individuals and organizations will be responsible for paying the postage to mail the gifts to the recipient.

Once you pay the postage, the postal clerks will match your box with the letter writer by using an internal numbering system.

The clerk takes the box and retrieves the original letter using the numbering system to create a mailing label.

The return address on the box will read "Operation Santa, North Pole."

USPS has a policy for “adopting” children’s letters to Santa that’s designed to protect their privacy. Individuals who would like to adopt letters are asked to do so in person, present valid photo identification and fill out a form that includes the list of letters they are adopting.

Here’s how it works. A person wishing to adopt a letter can go to a Post Office, select one or more letters to take with them and sign the form. The child’s address on the envelope will have been blocked out and the letter assigned a number.

After the individual fulfills the child’s wishes with a gift, he or she returns with the letter and gift to the same Post Office and pays the postage for the package. A postal employee will match the number on the letter with the child’s address, apply a label to it and put the package in the mail stream.


  • Hundreds of thousands of children of all ages send letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska.”
  • Unless these letters contain a complete Alaska address, they remain in the area they were mailed.
  • Postal “elves” go through the letters and separate those that express serious need.
  • Addional FAQ's

Letters from Santa

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And the Postal Service can help you prove it when Santa replies to your child’s letter to Santa — complete with the North Pole Postmark!

Here’s the 10 easy steps:

  1. Have your child write a letter to Santa and have them seal it in an envelope they address to: Santa Claus, North Pole.
  2. Tell the child that you’ll place a stamp on it and mail it to St. Nick for them.
  3. Later, when alone, open the envelope, read the letter and write Santa’s response on the back of the child’s letter. Have Santa mention it’s important to be green and that’s why he is writing on the back.
  4. When responding, be sure to reference your child’s notable accomplishments not included in their letter, i.e., Santa is so proud that you volunteered to help ____, or Santa is really impressed with the great job you’re doing in school — especially with math, etc. Sign it Santa Claus with a P.S. to get to bed early Christmas Eve.
  5. Place the letter into a new envelope addressed to the child at his or her home address. Be sure to include: Santa Claus, North Pole, as the return address on the envelope. And don’t forget to apply a First-Class Mail® stamp.
  6. Place the stamped envelope into a larger envelope (or Priority Mail® envelope) with adequate postage addressed to:

    4141 POSTMARK DR
    ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998

  7. Letters from Santa must be received by the Anchorage, AK, Postmaster no later than Dec. 15, 2014.
  8. The Anchorage Postmaster will open the envelope, remove Santa’s letter addressed to your child, apply the North Pole postmark and mail it back home.
  9. When Santa’s letter arrives, have your camera ready when you ask your child to open the letter and read it out loud.
  10. Tweet the photos using the #SantaLetters and post them on Facebook. Keep the letters in a scrapbook as a great family keepsake along with the photos.
Letters from Santa

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader

2014 Holiday News