The U.S. Postal Service Is Making Holiday Dreams Come True, One Letter at a Time

iStock
iStock

Each Christmas season, the United States Postal Service (USPS) receives millions of letters from kids writing to Santa Claus. To help make children's holidays brighter, the postal service runs “Operation Santa,” a program that allows members of the public to play St. Nick and pen responses.

The USPS first began receiving Santa letters more than 100 years ago. In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock gave local postmasters the go-ahead to open and reply to these missives; by the 1940s, charities, corporations, and volunteers were also providing responses and sending gifts to kids.

Today, the Operation Santa program is headquartered in the James A. Farley Post Office Building (the main USPS building in New York City) and has select satellite locations across the U.S.—and a brand-new website and platform is helping do-gooders around the country spread holiday cheer by allowing them to “adopt” a letter online.

Visit Operation Santa’s website, and browse the virtual mailroom to select a letter. Choose one you love, and the USPS will email you a letter ID. Write a response or send a gift (or both!), and bring your package or letter to the nearest drop-off location. In place of an address in the upper left-hand corner, use the provided ID number (this protects people's identities), and be prepared to provide both a completed Adopter Form and a photo ID [PDF].

Not all post offices participate in Operation Santa, as some might not have the requisite facilities, staff, or location to join the program. To see if your neighborhood location is joining in the fun this year, visit Operation Santa’s website for a list of registered locations.

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Cyber Monday has arrived, and with it comes some amazing deals. This sale is the one to watch if you are looking to get low prices on the latest Echo Dot, Fire Tablet, video games, Instant Pots, or 4K TVs. Even if you already took advantage of sales during Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday still has plenty to offer, especially on Amazon. We've compiled some the best deals out there on tech, computers, and kitchen appliances so you don't have to waste your time browsing.

Computers and tablets

Amazon

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet 64GB; $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet 64GB; $84 (save $35)

- HP Pavilion x360 14 Convertible 2-in-1 Laptop; $646 (save $114)

- HP Pavilion Desktop, 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100 Processor; $469 (save $81)

- Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop; $973 (save $177)

Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

- Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones; $200 (save $100)

- Sony Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones; $278 (save $72)

- JBL LIVE Wireless Headphones; $100 (save $30)

- JBL Charge 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $120 (save $10)

- Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II; $79 (save $50)

- Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones; $200 (save $50)

Video Games

Sony

- Watch Dogs Legion; $30 (save $30)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

- The Last of Us Part II; $30 (save $30)

TECH, GADGETS, AND TVS

Samsung/Amazon

- Amazon Fire TV Stick; $30 (save $20)

- Echo Show 8; $65 (save $65)

- Nixplay Digital Picture Frame; $115 (save $65)

- eufy Smart Doorbell; $90 (save $30)

- Samsung 75-Inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $898 (save $300)

home and Kitchen

Ninja/Amazon

- T-fal 17-Piece Cookware Set; $124 (save $56)

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Curved Round Chef's Oven; $180 (save $136)

- Ninja Foodi 10-in-1 Convection Toaster Oven; $195 (save $105)

- Roborock E4 Robot Vacuum Cleaner; $189 (save $111)

- Instant Pot Max Pressure Cooker 9 in 1; $80 (save $120)

- Shark IZ362H Cordless Anti-Allergen Lightweight Stick Vacuum; $170 (save $110)

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

How Zoom Santas Are Connecting With Kids Virtually in 2020

Tim Mossholder, Unsplash
Tim Mossholder, Unsplash

In his 21 years as a professional Santa, Mr. Kringle of Mr. Kringle & Company has dealt with every type of temperament and gift request from his young clientele. But 2020 presented him with a new challenge: How was he supposed to connect with kids when he couldn’t be near them? As was the case with so many issues this year, the internet was the answer.

“It’s not the real in-person visit, but it’s still a personal visit,” Mr. Kringle told Mental Floss. “And kids already understand what’s happening on Zoom. They’re already Zooming their classrooms to some degree and have been doing it for a few months now, so they understand it, and they understand the dynamic.”

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Kringle is one of many Santas offering virtual meet-and-greets this holiday season. For $48 to $58, families can sign up to have a personal streaming session with Santa Claus from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Prerecorded messages from Father Christmas himself are also available for $28.

Meetings kicked off on November 21, and Mr. Kringle has already seen an incredible response. “We’re having an international reach," he says. "A lot of people are reaching out to us from Canada. We heard of an inquiry from India today. People are looking to engage with Mr. Kringle, and given this technology, it can happen any time and any place.”

Even Santas who have experience connecting with kids virtually anticipate a very different holiday season in 2020. The Cameo Santa has been a professional Santa for decades and on Cameo for the last three years. He tells Mental Floss that this season he’s expecting to get five times the amount of requests he got this same time last year.

“In my 26 years of being a professional Santa, probably the most parties I have had in one day was five,” the Cameo Santa says. “Being the Cameo Santa has given me the opportunity to touch many more lives and spread way more Christmas spirit than I ever could’ve dreamed was possible.” In addition to recording personalized Cameos for $65, he’s also available for Zoom meetings.

Santas are employing some creative strategies this year in an effort to keep everyone healthy. At the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, kids are forbidden from sitting on Santa’s lap, and they can only interact with him from a distance. At Aalborg Zoo in Denmark, Santa is ensconced in a snow globe.

Still, a virtual meeting is the safest option for families hoping to see Santa this year, and beyond the health aspect, it comes with some surprising benefits.

The Cameo Santa recalls a review he received from one mother describing the immediate impact of his video message. “I started mentioning the things the children needed to work on to stay on the nice list, and that was to start keeping their room clean," he says. "So that was the first thing I mentioned in my mild but firm suggestions [of] what to do. She said she could not stop laughing, because right there in the middle of the Cameo, both boys jumped up and ran to their rooms and started cleaning the room up! Talk about impact. Ho ho ho!”

For Mr. Kringle of Mr. Kringle & Company, the biggest upside to meeting children through Zoom is the opportunity to continue a tradition in a year when so much has been put on hold. He says, “I would hate to think you’ve got a 7-, 8-, 9-year-old who's on the brink—you know what I mean?—and the year goes by with no visit from Santa. That they can still have this will maybe keep them believing one more year.”