USPS Operation Santa 2023 aims to spread holiday cheer

USPS Operation Santa 2023 aims to spread holiday cheerplay

Operation Santa is looking for donors to adopt letters and send gifts to children

The U.S. Postal Service’s Operation Santa hopes to fulfill the wishes of thousands of families in need this year. Here’s how you can help.

Are you longing for a white Christmas and longing for a red-nosed reindeer – all before a Black Friday?

The same goes for the U.S. Postal Service, which is starting its annual letter acceptance earlier than ever as part of Operation Santa. Starting Monday, Christmas angels can begin turning their visions of sugar plums into reality for those facing a tense winter.

The 111-year-old Operation Santa program processes letters addressed to Santa Claus at the North Pole. The Postal Service allows people to accept and respond to the letters, giving children across the country a little hope that their holiday wishes will be heard — and even granted.

“The program always resonates powerfully,” Sue Brennan, senior public relations representative for the USPS, told USA TODAY. More than 18,000 letters were accepted in 2022, says Brennan, who expects the generosity to continue this year.

“This program is unlike anything else in the Postal Service in every way. Employees who get involved are impressed by the history of the program and the joy it brings to so many,” she said. “I can’t quite explain why so many thousands of people want to help strangers have a better holiday.”

Operation Santa began accepting letters in mid-September this year. Now the mailroom is teeming with letters waiting to be accepted and wishes granted as people register at

What do letter writers need to know?

Christmas letters must include the writer’s first and last name and a complete return address (including street address, apartment number, city, state and zip code). The envelope must be stamped and addressed to: Santa, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.

The letters are opened in Santa’s mailroom, personal information is redacted and the letters are uploaded to the USPS website. Authors do not need online; All letters must be postmarked by December 11th.

There is no age limit for letters, but the USPS website offers writing tips for tykes and templates that can be downloaded and printed, from the “Ho-ho-ho Letter” to the “Winter Bear Letter.”

What do gift givers need to know?

People can accept letters through the online channel, but you will need to create an account and have your ID verified. All adoptions are done digitally. Each registered person can adopt up to 15 letters. Letters written in Spanish are published and can be searched using a language filter.

After letters are accepted, donors are responsible for shipping gifts via Priority Mail and paying postage. December 18th is the last call for adopters and the recommended shipping date for gifts. Up to six packages can be sent per individual adoption and up to twelve packages per family adoption.

“These letters make me cry”

Humble hopes and simple requests echo through the lines of Santa’s letters.

Some of the most heartbreaking words come from those who care about their family members. “These letters make me cry,” Brennan said. “The writers who ask for gifts for others are selfless and beautiful.”

Itzel listed a few small wishes for Santa this year – fidget toys and Real Littles – but said her biggest wish was for “the homeless to have a home, food and water. That’s what I want for Christmas.”

Saidi told Santa, “It’s okay if I don’t get everything I ask for,” but asked for makeup so she could “surprise” her sister.

Zoe and Ella didn’t have a wish list: they just wanted to say “Thank you for the great gifts you’ve given us over the years.”

And sometimes it is mothers and fathers who turn to Santa Claus with clear requests. “This year has been tough and we have had a lot of unexpected medical expenses,” wrote Amy, who asked for gift cards to buy groceries for her family. “The smiles on my family’s faces when their bellies are full and their tongues are happy is all I need.”