Brighten a Child’s Christmas w/ USPS Operation Santa Program

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More Christmas

Here’s how you can participate in the USPS Operation Santa letter submission & adoption program.

christmas presents under a tree

Here’s a sweet way to give back this season!

We truly love sharing all the latest deals with you guys here at Hip2Save, and we’re so thankful to play a part in making the holidays more affordable for families all over the country! Unfortunately, there are still a lot of families in need who struggle around this time of year while trying to provide their loved ones with a memorable holiday season.

Luckily, the USPS is running its Operation Santa program once again this year, and it’s the perfect opportunity to help others and give back!

USPS truck

What’s Operation Santa?

Here’s a little background on the holiday program according to the USPS website:

“USPS Operation Santa is a much-beloved, 109-year-old program run by the U.S. Postal Service. The goal for the future is, and has always been, to help more children and families in need have a happy holiday when they otherwise may not — one letter to Santa at a time.”

Every year, the USPS collects letters and holiday wish lists from families all over the country. Once the letters are accepted and the writers’ personal information removed, they’re put “up for adoption” for folks from all around the US. The adopters can then purchase the items & get them to the families with a little help from the USPS.

It’s a safe way to help other families have the best holiday possible & reduce the stress that so often comes along with the celebrations.

For weeks, the USPS has been collecting those letters, and they’re now up for adoption!

girl writing letter to Santa

If you’re looking to be a part of the Operation Santa program this year, here’s how you can participate.

  • Select “register & verify ID” if you haven’t yet. Note that even if you’ve participated in the past, you’ll need to renew your registration each year.
  • Create an account and verify your ID and password. If you aren’t able to verify your ID online, you can visit one of the 19,000 participating Post Office locations with a Label Broker service.
  • After you’re approved, you’ll receive an email with detailed information on how to join in and make the most of the program.

Businesses are also welcome to take part in the USPS Operation Santa program, but every individual participant will need to go through the verification process.

cookies and milk for santa

Looking to submit a wish list? It’s not too late!

Through December 10th, you can write your letter to Santa, enclose it in an envelope with a First-Class Mail stamp, fill in your complete return address including apartment number & directional information (if necessary, ex. E Main St, Apt 103), and Zip Code, and mail it to Santa’s official workshop address:

Santa Claus
123 Elf Road
North Pole, 88888

If you’d like some inspiration and tips, the USPS has a helpful guide for writing the perfect letter to Santa!

elf writing a letter

Letters must be postmarked by December 10th, and they’ll be uploaded to the program website through December 15th. The last day for letter adoption is December 22nd, and packages can be shipped out through January 14th.

Prefer giving experiences over things? Give the Gift of Time this holiday season!

Brandi has an Associate's Degree and 5+ years of experience writing and creating online content for local businesses.

Join The Discussion

Comments 29

  1. Tonya S

    What a wonderful way to give back this Christmas season ❤️

  2. huertac1

    I’ve tried this several times and then can never verify my information. I don’t get why

    • BJ

      It’s the post office…lol

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      DARN! Maybe try a different browser. Hoping that might help!

  3. Amy

    Are these for less fortunate children? If so how do they vet that?

    • Jennifer

      According to the USPS website FAQ:

      Which letters are chosen for USPS Operation Santa?
      Letters are not evaluated based on needs or if they’re fit to be fulfilled. They are posted for the public to decide which ones they want to adopt. However, in order to be included the program a letter must:

      Be legible
      Contain a valid return address — including apartment number — in the letter or on the envelope
      Be addressed to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888
      Have a Forever® First-Class Mail® postage stamp on the envelope
      Be mailed through the U.S. Postal Service
      Be postmarked by December 10

  4. justamama87

    I signed up for the angel tree in our town (this year has been so rough) and there’s too many signed up so Im not sure what Im gonna do. Im gonna try this though. Christmas isnt about stuff anyways.

  5. kspwife859

    I’ve looked into this and read through some of the letters and to me they personally seem very fake and scripted. I was put off by this. If you want to help a child in need contact your local school system’s family resource center. Many of them do angel trees and they are 100% vetted. Also, my husband is a state trooper…contact your local police department to donate to shop with a cop. Just some ideas on how you can help your local community and know that you are helping legit programs. Happy Holidays all!

    • rocme2

      You mean the letters don’t seem legit? I’m surprised. My kids sent their letters to this address the past two or three years – I just thought this is where people sent their letters if they wanted a response (I didn’t know they actually try to fulfill wishes).

    • Sue

      The letters didn’t seem scripted to me at all. Some were handwritten by the kids and barely legible – so that’s definitely not scripted. Some were written by parents of kids too young to write. One of the ones I adopted was written by the mother of a 5-month-old baby and only wanted some toys for the baby – no real specific requests other than a baby gym – so I felt that was legit.

    • SavingsMama

      Angel Tree is only for 12 and under with income requirements. While that’s great to help out those children, I certainly wouldn’t go as far to call these letters scripted. There’s several families that don’t qualify for assistance but could use help due to a temporary misfortune, like car trouble, hospital stay, caring for parents etc. Another place to help is community colleges, as there are many single parents enrolled. Just another place to help.

  6. kelly

    THanks. THis is really sweet. I have terminal cancer and not a lot of extra spending money for Christmas. Ive thought of skipping it. My kids really want gifts, a tree, lights up. Its hard when ur in chemo and feel like crud. LOL. Thank you.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re welcome, Kelly! Our thoughts are with you and your family. Wishing you all a very happy holiday.

      • Kelly

        Thank you so much, Amber. Im on my fifth cancer- my third for breast cancer. I feel like thats all my kids know. Christmas- isnt about gifts. Its about being together. So- Ive got that covered this year. Best to everyone. Take care of yourselves. We as moms sometimes overlook that. 🙂

        • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

          You’re welcome. Sending many hugs and positive vibes your way! 💕

  7. Melanie C

    Wonderful way to help out-and you can do it right from home if you online shop! 😉 I’m a teacher and I know kids who have received thanks to this.

  8. Jennifer

    I will be donating to local kids in need…who knows where these gifts end up. After last year, I would never trust USPS with a charitable donation on my behalf.

  9. beaglemom46

    My family did this two years ago. Fulfilled all the children’s wishes for one family. Spent a fortune on shipping through USPS. You have to pay to ship what you buy. Our postal location wasn’t aware how to process the shipments. Had to tell them how to do it. One book made it to its final destination. The other two were lost in shipment. I had to open a lost inquiry with USPS. Took a long time. Luckily, I had saved my purchases receipts for the inquiry. It was a long tedious process. I won’t participate in this program again. Until there is a better system for it, it is completely frustrating as it is run now. I recommend saving your store receipts and postal receipts if you do decide to participate. Happy Holidays!

    • beaglemom46

      Whoops. When I mention a book making it to its destination, I meant box! No books were sent. Spell check got me again. Lol

  10. Andrea

    Boy this does seem sketch….it seems that if there is no way to figure out if these are legit needy children, then ANYBODY can sign up for free stuff. I absolutely will not participate in this. I prefer to pull a name off of a tree that is usually in the supermarket. It tells you exactly what group home or foster home org that its going to. There is enough scamming in this world and this just seems to make it substantially easier. I did “adopt a family” a couple years ago and that was so unbelievably rewarding. I volunteered at an organization years ago and a lil girl about 6/7 came in and looked at all the toys she could pick from and said “I want something my mom can play too because Santa forgets to bring her a toy every year”. Ugh my heart broke and i realized little ones don’t understand why Santa forgets about the moms and dads. With the adopt a family, the wish list includes the family. Most parents actually ask more for health & beauty stuff like shampoo and feminine products. The couple years i participated, i made sure to get the health & beauty and “a toy” for mom and dad. Either an outfit, sneakers and a coat etc. I understand many people cant afford this type of program because it is a pricey commitment. Im not able to do an entire family this year but i will and have made donations locally and picked 2 kids names off a tree. Merry Christmas everyone. Please also note** i meant no disrespect about this post. Im just saying that this particular program is not for me but H2S is helping bring out a tough conversation that is important to talk about and no matter how or if we can give – that we do what we can. ❤️

    • Andrea

      Yikes, sorry for the loooong post 🥴

    • Urvi

      Well (and respectfully) said. My office usually adopts a couple of local families and it’s always essentials. Warm pajamas, fuzzy socks, boots, jackets/coats, backpacks, cookware -food from the local food pantry us good but you have to be able to cook it- etc. I think any bit that one can do is always appreciated. For the recipients, it’s truly joy and relief.

  11. Brittany

    I did this I believe two years ago. I chose a letter that was for a girl and her younger sister. The one thing I did not realize prior to selecting my letter was just how much shipping charges would be. I apparently chose a letter that was for a zone that was a far ways away from me, and with all of the items that I picked up I spent over $100 just in shipping. Due to the large shipping costs, I will choose to only do local letters in the future (if I can find any) or support my local organizations.

    • Kellie L

      I agree with you. Did this 2 years ago. Adopted a family of 6. Spent a lot of money on gifts (but with huge savings thanks to Hip2Save!), wrapped and packaged over 50 gifts and then took them to our local USPS. They had no idea how to send them, even with the instructions I printed off. Had to go to another larger town USPS and was there for 90 minutes trying to help them figure it out. And it cost me $521 to ship the boxes!!! Another vote for local donations from now on.

  12. Sue

    I am participating in this for the first time this year. I was saddened by many of the letters that requested things so expensive that I couldn’t afford to “adopt” them and fulfill their wishes. I get it, though – kids tend to “wish big”, as it says on the USPS site – thinking that because the letter is going to Santa, that anything is possible – so they ask for a PS5, a laptop, a tablet, 5 American Girl dolls (at $100+ each), etc. I had to “un-adopt” one letter for that very reason – the child just gave the names of dolls she wanted, and not the brand – when I found out they were American Girl dolls and I couldn’t afford to get even one of them, I had to cancel my participation on that one. I hope someone else can help her.

    I was able to adopt 3 other letters for kids with less expensive requests. I understand the comments here about participating in more local charities for truly needy kids – I have done that as well this year (and in years past), but wanted to try this out this year too.

    • jennifer-65

      I don’t see where the letters were available, my pop up said the letters weren’t ready yet🤷🏻‍♀️

  13. C R

    Could we please be careful with the words we use? “Adoption” is not a gift giving event. Adoption is a lifelong commitment. Shopping for children/families at Christmas can be a wonderful blessing, but you are not “adopting” these children. To those that will say “what is the big deal?”, I will simply say- every child deserves to feel safe. When “adoption” is used to describe a temporary event, it can be unsettling and confusing for those children who have been adopted. Please be kind and reconsider the words we are using.

    • Beth

      Wow, this is ridiculous. I’m sorry, but it is. I’m all for considering others’ feelings, but this is a massive stretch. Adoption is a word that can be applied to many things, not just the adoption of children. People adopt new skills, pets, etc. By your logic, we should all stop referring to anything as the adoption of something, other than the adoption of children, even though that is an accurate descriptor in many cases. And for the record, I have never heard of an adopted child being upset about the term “Christmas adoptions”. At this point, I feel as if people are just making up stuff to be up in arms about. It’s so silly.

    • Andrea

      For goodness sakes, thats what the Church i participated with called it….Adopt a family. In no way did i think i was making a commitment for life and most certainly the family did not believe they were committed to me! Most parents are not announcing this program to their small children. They are rightfully keeping that quiet bc as we all know…Santa brought the families gifts. The kids old enough to not believe in Santa are old enough to know the difference in adoption and helping a family at the Holidays. If you wanted to get technical then I suppose you want it called what it is…”Giving Gifts to People Who Can’t afford Gifts”. Who wants a kid to hear that!! We are getting to a ridiculous point nowadays, people cant say hundred year old expressions, songs are banned, books are discontinued & even clothes are becoming insulting to people. Since when is a womens shirt offensive to a man where it has to be gender neutral. Yes completely went off the point but the point is….Gimme A Break! The point is putting smiles on lil ones faces, helping parents who hit a tough patch & giving a lil because we are fortunate to have a lil extra. Creating drama when there is ZERO need is just silly and opposite of the Christmas spirit. Im not trying to go back and forth or if you will even read this but seriously, just be happy people are still willing to be generous. Merry Christmas

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