US Postal Service’s Operation Santa and holiday mailing tips

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The US Postal Service has issued holiday mailing tips and suggested holiday mailing dates to provide the best chance for packages, letters and cards from Hawaiʻi to make it to the mainland in time for Christmas.

The annual USPS Operation Santa program is underway, with children invited to send letters to Santa with the possibility of having their wishes fulfilled by anonymous donors. Image Courtesy: USPS

The suggested mailing dates are Dec. 17 for First-Class and Priority mail headed to the mainland. Procrastinators have until Dec. 21 to send their holiday cheer to the mainland via expedited Priority Express shipping service. 

Additional mailing dates:

 First-Class &Priority Express
From Hawaii to . . .Priority MailMail
U.S. MainlandDec. 17Dec. 21
HawaiiDec. 21Dec. 22

Dates apply to mail received by each Post Office’s cutoff time.

Postal customers are asked to keep in mind that the above suggested mailing dates are not deadlines, implying that packages or letters will not arrive at their destinations if mailed after the listed dates.


If normal holiday conditions prevail, chances are good that letters and packages sent shortly after the suggested dates will still make it to their destinations before Christmas. Ultimately, unpredictable factors such as mailing volumes and weather determine whether deliveries can be made early or on time.

UPSS has convenient Self-Service Ship & Mail Centers (kiosks) that allow customers to purchase stamps, print and pay for postage for packages, and conduct other common transactions without the need to stand in line to see a mail clerk.

Most of the 17 kiosks across Hawai’i are accessible 24/7.

On Maui, they locations are:

  • Kihei Post Office                          
  • Lahaina Post Office                         
  • Wailuku Post Office

Here are some time- and money-saving mailing tips:

  • Save money with flat rate boxes: Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes are the best deal around. Customers can send up to 70 pounds in Medium Flat Rate Boxes to domestic locations for only $17.05 An even better deal is the Large Flat Rate Box, which holds 50 percent more (with the same 70-pound limit) for only $22.45. And, to support our military troops overseas, up to 70 pounds can be shipped in the military Large Flat Rate Box to most APO and FPO locations for only $20.95.
  • Save time and use Pay for your postage and print out your mailing label at After printing out the mailing labels for your packages at, go to to schedule a pickup at your home or office, usually the next business day. There is no extra charge for this service. You can also drop off your prepaid packages at a Post Office without waiting in line.
  • Free insurance: All Priority Mail and Priority Express envelopes and boxes now include day-specific delivery, improved tracking and free insurance.
  • Free packaging: Priority Mail envelopes and boxes and Priority Express envelopes are available for free at your local Post Office.
  • Express Mail on Christmas Day: The Postal Service delivers Express Mail on Christmas Day in major U.S. metropolitan areas. Ask your local postal clerk to determine whether this option is available for your holiday packages.

USPS Operation Santa

Keiki from across Hawai’i are encouraged to participate in the USPS Operation Santa wish fulfillment program.

  • The program allows volunteers to “adopt” letters and fulfill Christmas wishes by sending gifts in Santa’s place.
  • To participate in the program, all keiki need to do is write a letter to Santa, put it in a stamped envelope with a return address and send it to the USPS Operation Santa address: Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888
  • Letters writers must stamp and address their letters correctly and include a return address. They should list specific wishes — including sizes, styles, colors, titles and names.
  • Letters must be postmarked by Dec. 12. Letters are available for adoption beginning Nov. 28 and through Dec. 19.

Hawai’i residents are encouraged to go online and adopt a letter to help a child have a happy holiday. Letters can be filtered by state. Last year 131 Hawai’i children had their wishes granted through this program.


Details on how to adopt a Santa letter and a history of the program are available at

The Postal Service offers video tutorials providing useful information on How to Pack and How to Ship.

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