By Greg Ellison
(Oct. 15, 2020) After nearly a decade of delighting children, the annual “Letters From Santa” campaign orchestrated by Colby Phillips is expanding this season to include adults.
Since starting the mailing to an inner circle of family and friends nine years ago, the holiday letter endeavor has grown by leaps and bounds.
“The first year I sent it to my daughters [Remy and Sadie] and then to their friends,” Phillips said. “Last year I sent out over 500.”
The initial concept for her children and some close acquaintances to receive personalized mail from old St. Nick mushroomed after witnessing the reactions elicited.
“When they got the letters seeing the joy that it gave them and hearing from my friends the joy that their children got, inspired me the next year to offer it on social media and it’s just grown,” she said. “Honestly, I get a lot of joy out of it myself.”
Phillips said in light of the pandemic-related upheaval society continues to labor through, the Letters From Santa venture seems especially poignant and now has been extended to include adult recipients.
“This year with covid anything that can bring a smile is a good thing,” she said. “Plus we’re doing an adult Santa letter this year.”
Phillips said grown ups can have either a traditional or funny greeting sent from Santa’s secret North Pole home base.
“Last year someone mentioned a potential recipient in a nursing home and I thought to do a adult version,” she said. “It’s different than the letter for kids.”
As in past years there is no cost to have Santa correspond to children, or the youthful at heart, simply email the intended parties name and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The letters go out the first week in December [but] I start now in order to get done,” she said. “I have a few elves that help me stuff letters and sticker envelopes.”
Requests for adults should specify a traditional or comical-edged letter from Kris Kringle.
While not likely in print by this Christmas, there are also plans afoot to produce a short booklet covering the exploits of “Peppermint the Reindeer.”
“A couple of years ago I introduced Peppermint … which is Santa Claus’ newest reindeer,” she said. “Each year I’ve been adding a little bit of the story of Peppermint in the letter.”
Design work is currently underway with assistance from Thom Guylas at Ace Printing in Berlin and graphic artist Kyle Phillips.
“We’re putting together a little book based on the story of Peppermint,” she said. “I’m not sure if the book will be done for this Christmas but any of the proceeds raised are going to go back to a local children’s based charity.”
While still in the midst of producing the Peppermint release, issuing the annual mass mailing is invariably eased by community generosity.
“The first year I had someone offer stamps [and] since it’s become more broad there’s people in the community that supply needs,” she said.
Each year an ever-expanding array of Santa supporters have stepped in to back the effort.
“They would just drop off stamps, stickers, paper or glue [and] 80 percent of the people I don’t even know,” she said. “Really for me it ends up just being my time because so many people contribute to the process.”
While roughly half of requests are sent to nearby locales including Ocean Pines, Berlin and Ocean City, the other percentage go elsewhere in Maryland and nationwide.
“It’s not just here,” she said. “Believe it or not because people will ask me to send it to their grandchildren it will go as far as California.”