There are only a few weeks left until Christmas, which means it's time for children to write their letters to Santa Claus. And with a bit of help from the U.S. Postal Service, your child can get a response from ol' St. Nick himself!
Here's how the "Letters from Santa" program works:
Have your child write a letter to Santa and place it in an envelope addressed to: Santa Claus, North Pole.
Later, when alone, open the envelope and write a personalized response.
Insert both letters into an envelope and address it to the child.
Add the return address: SANTA, NORTH POLE, to the envelope.
Affix a First-Class Mail stamp to the envelope.
Place the complete envelope into a larger envelope with appropriate postage and address it to:
North Pole Postmark Postmaster
4141 Postmark Drive
Anchorage, AK 99530-9998
Once the envelope is sent, the folks at the post office will take care of the rest. "Letters from Santa" must be received by the Anchorage postmaster no later than December 15, so make sure your kids write their letters soon!
If you're looking for tips on what to write when responding to your child, UNLV Writing Center Director Gina Sully, Ph.D., wrote up a couple sample letters. You can find them here.
Dr. Sully also offered the following pieces of advice:
1. Try to get your older kids to participate in process of sending letters to Santa and writing letters from Santa
If you can get them to express envy when the younger kids receive their responses from Santa, so much the better
If you can send older kids responses too, better yet! Sending responses that use the praise sandwich might soften communication b/w parents & adolescents and encourage desired behaviors
2. Appeal to your child's senses to create authenticity
Smell: LIGHTLY spritz the back of the envelope with seasonal scent: peppermint, cinnamon, vanilla, etc.
Touch: Use high-quality paper with a higher fiber content.
Sight: Use stationery with a seasonal border. Don’t use a computer printout for the body of the letter, although youcould create letterhead using the address to which your child sent their letter
Try a stationery template from your word-processing program (Word template search term, holiday stationery).
Get a friend to actually write the letter or disguise your handwriting; your kids will recognize your writing as they age, and they’ll come to realize you’re the Santa who’s been writing to them pretty quickly
Use a seasonal stamp
Sound: The letter must not be in your voice.
Don’t use language you usually use, your stock phrases, your standard clichés
You’ll have to revise to change the voice. Don’t be afraid to put the first (or second or third) draft aside for a few days before revising
Consider having someone else revise the letter once you’ve drafted it. You and a friend could “trade” kids and write to each other’s!
Write your final draft out in full before writing on stationery
Read “A Christmas Carol” aloud to get a feel for one possible “old-fashioned” voice to imitate
3. Personalize the letter for each child
Use the name the child prefers, even if you hate it
Use child’s nickname if they have one that they like, even if no one but the child uses it
Acknowledge the letter your child sent Santa; refer to specific content for each child
Don’t tell them what gifts they’ll be getting; let the magic that comes from surprise remain
4. Personalize the content for your home, traditions, and family milestones
Explain why Santa has chosen to write to the children in your family, or how Santa can get into the home if there’s no chimney
At the end of the letter, have Santa ask your child to leave a traditional family holiday treat for him on Christmas Eve
Mention how the child will be a role model for their newborn sibling or cousin
5. Share some details about daily life at the North Pole
For example: feeding the reindeer, idiosyncrasies/characteristics of specific elves, what Mrs. Claus is up to, recreational activities
6. Demonstrate that Santa is watching & encourage desirable behavior: Make a “praise sandwich”
Praise an instance of a behavior you want to reinforce; just one or two
Mention something they could do better, and acknowledge a successful instance of their having done it during the past year, for example, getting along with siblings, doing chores. However, DO NOT focus on something that has been particularly contentious between you and your child. This is not the time to preach
Praise a specific milestone, accomplishment, achievement, or behavioral change for each child and suggest they focus on getting even better at that for example, contributions to the household, school, volunteer work, getting along with siblings, doing chores on time
7. Ask the child to do something for Santa and the reindeer on Christmas Eve
Leave some carrots for the reindeer and a traditional family holiday snack for Santa
8. Be sure to consume the treats and leave some crumbs for your child to find. And maybe even a thank-you note