Is your kid writing a letter to Santa? A kind stranger could grant their wish, USPS says

From stuffed animals to gaming consoles, children around the country are writing letters in hopes that Santa will have gifts for them under the tree this Christmas. One program with the U.S. Postal Service is already making some of those wishes come true.

Operation Santa is a program that runs between Sept. 18 and Dec. 11 that allows families to submit letters detailing their Christmas wishlists. Then, USPS publishes many of the letters on its website for account users to “adopt” a child’s letter by claiming it and buying holiday gifts to send the letter writer.

But deadlines for submitting and adopting letters are coming up soon, USPS said.

How do I submit my child’s letter to Santa?

Anyone from the continental U.S., Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands can participate in Operation Santa, according to the Postal Service. All that’s needed is a pen, paper, an envelope and a Forever First-Class Mail postage stamp — then the letter is ready to be sent off.

The USPS’s Operation Santa website has several templates to choose from that can be printed out for a child to write on, but it isn’t required.

All envelopes should be addressed to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888, USPS said. A return address should also be included to ensure that if someone chooses to fulfill the letter’s wishes, that person can send a package to the correct home.

Families are also allowed to submit letters from each child, but the USPS suggests all notes get sent in the same envelope.

While there aren’t any requirements for how to write a letter, USPS recommends the letter is written legibly and gifts should be listed in order of preference. This makes it easier for the letter’s recipient to pick out a gift that will make someone’s wish come true.

Letters are not accepted on a needs basis, and there isn’t a guarantee that a letter will be uploaded or adopted by someone from the website, according to USPS. The Postal Service doesn’t send receipts for received letters, and a family won’t know they’re expecting a package unless they are signed up for Informed Delivery notifications.

Gifts could arrive anytime until mid-January, USPS said, so it urges those who wrote letters to “believe in the magic of the season.”

How do you adopt a child’s letter?

Those interested in adopting a child’s letter this winter are required to make an account, according to USPS. Creating an account also means USPS will verify the user’s identity to inform the Postal Service on who is responsible for gifts sent.

Once approved, users can browse through available letters to Santa and add letters they’d like to adopt to “Your Letters.”

Each person is limited to 15 letters, USPS said. An adopter can also claim a family’s posted letters, which is a recommended practice, according to USPS.

If someone claims a letter but then can no longer fulfill the wish, users can cancel their adoption and the letter will be reposted to the website.

How to send gifts for Operation Santa

Sometimes, children may request expensive gifts in their letters, but USPS assures users they aren’t required to buy them.

Some people may also choose to buy one thing from a child’s list, while others may opt to purchase the whole list. Only six boxes will be accepted to send per letter, according to the Postal Service.

Used items are not allowed to be sent as a gift for safety purposes, USPS said. Other toys such as electronic skateboards, e-bikes, scooters, perfume and fireworks are also not permitted.

All gifts must also be anonymous, in part to protect the gift giver’s identity but also to preserve the magic of Santa, USPS said.

Gift wrapping isn’t required, but addressing the gift to the letter writer is encouraged. A return address should not be put on the gift.

When dropping the packages off at a nearby post office, USPS recommends the person who adopted the letter bring the package in. Those sending gifts will need to pay for shipping.

USPS also provides a detailed instructions packet for those looking to send gifts.

Deadlines for sending and adopting letters

The last day a letter can be submitted to be considered for publishing on the Operation Santa website is Dec. 11.

For those looking to adopt a letter, the deadline is Dec. 18, which is also the recommended last day to ship a gift for it to arrive before Christmas.

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