Don't Forget Your Letter to Santa!
The North Pole is a long way off. Although Santa has the unusual ability to travel throughout the world and visit millions of homes on the 24th of December, we "mortals" must still rely on the good old Post Office. Here's some Santa Letter history, some tips, and a lovely tradition of sending letters to Santa that will make your holiday bright.
When did children start writing letters to Santa?
Santa letters can be traced back over 800 years to the Middle Ages and to the real St. Nicholas himself. A Santa letter from the 1200s reads: "St. Nicholas patron of good children, I kneel for you to intercede. Hear my voice through the clouds And this night give me some toys. I want most of all a playhouse With some flowers and little birds."
Can your child write a Santa letter like that? Of course, letters to Santa are only one way to get a message to the jolly old elf. In some parts of the world, kids just shout their wishes up the chimney; and in other places, kids write Santa letters and burn them in the fireplace believing that the smoke will carry them to the North Pole.
Santa Letter Tips from the Post Office
You want your letter to Santa to arrive in time for Santa to read it, right? It's best to follow the rules. Here is what the Post Office says about sending Santa letters:
Santa Claus has a lot in common with the United States Postal Service. Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night keeps Santa from his appointed rounds at the homes of millions of children the world over. Of course, Santa's been doing it a bit longer than the Postal Service. But for the last 214 holiday seasons, he's relied almost exclusively on U.S. Mail carriers to bring him letters from girls and boys all across America.
This holiday season will be no different. The Postal Service is gearing up for a huge mail delivery to the North Pole to help Santa and his elves get ready for the big day.
Getting Letters to Santa - Quickly and Safely
Santa has offered to share these easy tips with children and their families to help their letters get to him as quickly and safely as possible:
Children should ask their parents for help addressing and putting stamps on their letters. This can help reduce misspellings - which can slow down letters - or using too much or too little postage.
Like all mail, it's important that letters to Santa include a complete return address with ZIP Code.
Santa enjoys candy canes and cookies, and his reindeer enjoy fresh hay. But because these treats can be damaged or crushed when sent in a regular envelope, Santa says it's better to leave them out on Christmas Eve than to mail them.
No extra packaging material, such as string or tape, is needed on a letter to Santa. The glue on the envelope flap is all that's needed.
Letters to Santa addressed at the North Pole, AK, - as well as other holiday mail - can be given directly to letter carriers, rather than placed in collection boxes or taken to the Post Office. And, as always, families with curbside mailboxes can put mail in their mailboxes for pick up.
Helping Santa Help Those in Need
While Santa receives most of these letters addressed to him at the North Pole, AK, some are sent to certified organizations and individuals who help those in need. Many Santa letters will be answered by a variety of Santa's helpers - charitable organizations, employees of local Post Offices and volunteers who want to help make children's holiday wishes come true.
Post Office to Santa
The Postal Service is helping to create holiday memories for children. Parents and guardians can work with their children as they write letters to Santa. They can secretly craft a response from Santa and mail it in a second envelope to the Fairbanks, AK Post Office. Postal elves at the nearby North Pole Post Office will postmark Santa's replies and mail them back to the children. To make this holiday activity especially enjoyable, parents should follow these suggested ideas.
Beyond the, "here's what I want" list, parents can ask children to write about why the holiday season is special.
Parents can also teach children that proper addressing techniques include a return address with ZIP Code.
After taking the letters from the children, parents and guardians can tell them they will mail the letters. Parents should keep the letters in a safe place until they can write Santa's response. In the event that the child might recognizes their handwriting, a friend or neighbor could rewrite the letter.
To make Santa's response special, beyond reminding children that Santa knows if they've been bad or good, a line or two about the child's recent accomplishment could be added to the letter.
As a P.S., Santa might want to remind the child to be in bed at a certain hour.
Santa's response should then be placed in a stamped envelope addressed to the child, and the North Pole, AK, should be included as the return address.
This envelope should then be placed into a larger, properly stamped, First-Class Mail or Priority Mail envelope and mailed to:
North Pole Christmas Cancellation
5400 Mail Trail
Fairbanks AK 99709-9998
Cameras should be on hand so parents can record the excitement.
Parents and guardians should save the child's letter to Santa, Santa's response and the photo and present them to the child years later in an album as a special gift.
North Pole postmark requests must arrive in Fairbanks, AK, before December
15th. As the holidays approach, parents should consider mailing
requests via Express Mail.
Customers interested in obtaining the North Pole Postmark on greeting cards
should mail them to the same address, making sure that stamped envelopes
contain inserts. Empty envelopes can be damaged by high-speed sorting
By following these helpful hints customers can keep letters to and from
Santa moving as quickly as possible, thus avoiding delays that could result
from the appearance of envelopes or the way the letters have been prepared.
Santa Letters from Needy Children
Santa doesn't want to overlook any child, no matter where he/she lives of his/her circumstances. Many charitable organizations exist to help sort through Santa letters and help Santa with his big job. A wonderful volunteer project at many local post offices is called Operation Santa Claus. Back in the 1920s in the New York Post Office, postal clerks, touched by the numerous letters to Santa they received, answered the Santa letters themselves-even digging into their own pockets to send presents to needy children. Soon, as the project caught on and as Santa letters grew in number, the clerks asked for public help. Now, Operation Santa Claus handles about 200,000 letters to Santa each holiday season.
Each year, thousands of New Yorkers and good-hearted people from around the country, volunteer for Operation Santa Claus. They read Santa letters that kids have sent, choose one or more Santa letters from poor children, and then send them gifts. It doesn't matter where the Santa letters come from, or why. Postal workers volunteering before or after their own shifts make the letters to Santa available and keep track of which children will be getting gifts so that there are no repeats.
Does this inspire you to help? To get all the details, check with your local post office to see if they participate in Operation Santa Claus. If they don't, you can contact Operation Santa Claus in New York to request children's letters to read and answer. Write to:
Operation Santa Claus
James A. Farley Building
421 Eighth Avenue, Room 3023
New York, NY 10199-9998
You can also call toll free: 1-877-840-0459.