Make: An Easy Kids’ Holiday Mail Station

Easily put together an adorable and inviting kids’ holiday letter-writing or card-making station for writing real mail to friends and family or for festive pretend mail play.

One of my favorite simple joys of the holiday season is finding hand-addressed letters from friends and family mixed in amongst the usual coupon packs and oil change flyers. And of those, my most treasured have always been the dispatches I receive from friends’ kiddos’ – lined paper notes covered with stickers or story-filled drawings with the occasional peanut-butter-and-jelly-smudged fingerprint.

DIY kids Santa stationary and holiday envelopes sitting next to a tray against white background

Last year I put together a little children’s holiday stationery set, and THIS holiday season I used it for a simple holiday mail station you can set up and invite your kids to use for real note-writing or fun dramatic mail play.

Watch the quick tutorial video below to see the easy how-to process…

Writing activities like these include quite a few technical benefits – basic phonics, better fine motor dexterity through handwriting practice, stronger hand muscle control, learning to express ideas through written text, and even picking up the fine art of persuasion (especially if writing letters to Santa!).

DIY kids Santa stationary and holiday envelopes sitting next to a tray against white background

But there are just as many opportunities to let your kids’ imaginations run away with them…Using prompts to write to or about familiar people and characters can make it easier for kids to get excited about sitting down to write a letter. I’ve come up with some pre-made play mailing labels you can print out to use to inspire your little ones to pen notes to some of their favorite holiday characters!

For another winter dramatic play activity, try making your own DIY holiday cookie play bakery!

To make your own holiday mail station you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • Paper or cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape or a glue stick
  • Markers or colored pencils

DIVIDED TRAY SUPPLIES:

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

How to Make a Kids Holiday Mail Invitation – DIY Instructions:

  1. Print our holiday stationary set or use your own

    Download and print our kids’ holiday stationery set, cut up sheets of colorful construction paper or cardstock, or use your own set of holiday cards, real stamps, and envelopes.
    Printable kids holiday letter writing kit preview 1

  2. Create a simple divided tray (optional)

    This is an optional extra step, but I wanted to create some divisions within the tray. Start by cutting pieces of colorful cardstock, felt, or foam sheets to the size of each intended segment.
    how to make an easy DIY kids holiday mail station
    Use trimmed wooden craft dowels to create simple dividers for your tray. I used removable glue dots at the ends to secure them to the inside of the wooden tray. This way, I can easily take out the dividers and felt and reuse the tray for other purposes once we’re done with note-writing play.

    Variations: I use wooden trays for everything, so I happened to have these supplies on hand, but you can easily make the same kind of thing out of a couple of shoebox lids or an arrangement of shallow containers. Or just skip the idea of dividers altogether and arrange all the supplies on a large tray or plate.

  3. Arrange the letter-writing supplies on the tray

    Create an inviting writing or play setup by arranging notecards, blank cards, pieces of lined paper, envelopes, stamps, labels, stickers, and pens or pencils on your tray.
    how to make an easy DIY kids holiday mail station

From winter mail play to thank-you cards, this is a great tray or station to keep in a special spot for the entire month of December – or whenever writing inspiration might strike!

This is a great activity to pull out that last week before the holidays when the stress is ramping up, kids are at home, nerves are starting to get a little fried, and you may be looking for an appealing independent play activity to keep your kids entertained.

And the big bonus? While making a holiday wish list for Santa, addressing an envelope to a friend, or simply playing with the various mail pieces, your kids will be exercising some valuable practical skills!

Our DIY kids holiday letter-writing tray sitting on a light aqua background with silver confetti

Tips for Setting Up a Kids Holiday Mail Center

  • Find a special spot for holiday note-writing. Whether your kids best find their focus in a distraction-free quiet corner, or against a backdrop of festive music and movies, locate a spot where they’ll enjoy hanging out to write for a bit.
  • Keep the tray or supplies at their height. It is easy to forget how much easier activities like this are for kids when everything they need is at a comfortable height for them and right within their reach. A kid-sized table and chair, coffee table, sturdy cardboard box surface, or even the floor are sometimes more comfortable work spaces for kids than a kitchen table.
  • Stock up on kid-friendly, inviting stationery supplies. Rubber stamps, glitter pens or paint sticks, holiday-themed stickers, office supply stickers, blank return address labels, or a kid-sized stapler are all fun accessories for kids to explore and use.
  • Include examples. Writing a sample note to a favorite holiday character, a letter to Santa, or an addressed envelope to a friend or family member can give kids a wonderful point of reference, stimulate creative writing ideas, or provide important visual formatting and punctuation references.
  • Use sentence starters. You can also fill out a few notes with winter or holiday-themed sentence starters that kids can use as prompts. Sentence starters like, “Dear Rudolph, what’s your favorite…” or “Dear Hermie, during my first week of winter break I…” offer a creative writing spark.

Create an Imaginative Dramatic Play Holiday Post Office

Dramatic post office play is ten times more fun when it becomes the official North Pole Mail Sorting Headquarters. Setting up an enchanting holiday post office play area doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, it’s a great way to turn household items into instruments of creative learning!

It also offers kids a unique seasonal opportunity to practice language, communication, and social skills. It encourages them to cooperate, innovate, and imagine. It invites them to creatively incorporate dramatic play props like simple homemade costume accessories or reimagined ordinary supplies. It nurtures self-expression, emotional intelligence, and creative thinking as they play out different scenarios and explore their own ideas.

Create a simple mail counter by utilizing a low shelf, small table, or sturdy cardboard box. Arrange a play work area that has household mail play accessories like:

  • Stamps, blank mailing labels, and stickers kids can use on “outgoing” play mail.
  • Envelopes and small boxes to create shipments.
  • An old landline phone or toy phone that children can use to make phone calls to customers (maybe it’s even a direct line to Santa!).
  • A scale (food scales work well!) that can be used to weigh mail.
  • Calculators to add up shipment costs.
  • Festive rubber stamps and stamp pads to stamp incoming and outgoing mail.
  • Index cards for receipts or notes.
  • Play money, coins, and a cash box provide great opportunities to work in a bit of simple math play.
  • Folders + paper trays or cardboard boxes for sorting and filing mail.
  • Satchels, totes, or baskets that children can use as mailbags for delivery around the house or classroom.

More Ways to Use Your Kids’ Holiday Letter-Writing Invitation

  • Turn your holiday mail tray into a kids’ holiday card-making invitation. Instead of beginning by writing notes, start with some simple homemade card-making. You can lay out folded pieces of paper or blank notecards along with scrap paper, crayons and markers, decorative art supplies (think pom-poms, stickers, etc.) scissors, and a glue stick.
  • Make simple mailboxes for family members. Delivering mail to mailboxes is always a hit with little ones! DIY mailboxes can be as simple as labeled shoeboxes or pieces of construction paper stapled together, or more complex and real-life-like (think decorated paper mache mailboxes with moveable carrier signal flags). You can use our printable labels to create simple mailing addresses with the name of family members or simply write names directly on envelopes or notecards. Help your kids stuff them into a “mail carrier” tote bag, and invite them to deliver mail around the house to everyone’s individual mailboxes.
  • Answer your kids’ letters with a DIY Santagram!

Picture Books about Winter and Holiday Mail to Pair with Your Holiday Mail Tray

Introducing this activity by reading a book that fits the theme is a wonderful way to get kids excited to write their own holiday mail. Many of the picture books listed below share charming visual examples of addressed cards and envelopes, and work wonderfully as holiday letter prompts.

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

How to Send Your Kids’ Letters to Santa

Did you know that you can send (or answer!) actual mail to Santa through the magic of the USPS’ Operation Santa program?

Address your envelope to Santa Claus at 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888, and the USPS will make sure the big guy gets your littles’ mail!

This program also allows families to choose to play Santa and adopt letters from children to help make others’ holiday wishes come true. If you’re looking for a few ways to give back this season, inviting your kids to become helper elves by answering a letter can help to grow their senses of caring, empathy, and community.

How to Recieve a Letter Postmarked from the North Pole

Instead of getting a response from someone else playing Santa, you can write your own letter from Santa and have it postmarked (for free) from the North Pole! You’ll need to enclose both your child’s letter to Santa as well as your reply letter in an envelope, then follow the steps on the USPS site.

Tip: Be sure to send it out between November 1 through December 2 so the USPS can get it back to you in time!


For more holiday paper activities, visit our holiday paper chain activity, make a set of DIY snowflake suncatchers, or put together a few 3D paper Christmas trees with pop-in ornaments.


*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

TAKE THE ADVENTURE TOUR!

Sign up for our 5-day "Adventures in Play" tour series - a high seas play journey delivered right to your inbox...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *