The Logistics of Santa

In December 2015, UPS delivered 585 million packages, the results of careful honing and learning from holiday package delivery mistakes.

And Santa isn’t impressed.

On December 25, Santa will be traveling around the world delivering presents to (some) children, perfecting the ultimate air freight shipment. Global supply chains are hard and Santa needs all the help he can get for Christmas shipping. An architect designed what Santa’s logistics center probably looks like but to understand the full scope of the supply chain, but for the actual shipping process, we’re going to need a little math.

Santa's Logistics Center

A Romanian team’s rendering of Santa’s logistics center, which won the “Nothing is Impossible” contest.

How Santa’s Air Freight Operation Works

We’re going to assume that 95% of children behaved this year (a stretch, we know). There are 7.125 billion people in the world but only about 2.2 billion Christians (everyone else is probably getting presents delivered by another LSP at other times). But, as anyone over a certain age knows, the number of presents you receive tend to decline with time, so we’ll focus on the 83% of the world’s population that is under 54.

Which means that 1.734 billion people are going to be getting presents this Christmas. You can see why Santa would be nervous. We’re going to assume that each house has about 4 people, meaning 433 million stops for Santa to make.

Time is always a factor too. Santa has time zones working in his favor, so if he begins at 10 PM in the Far East and goes until 7 AM in the west, he has 22 hours of operating time, or 79,200 seconds.

With 0.00018 seconds per house, Santa will be visiting 333,333 houses per second. And he has to travel between houses as well. These peoplefigured out that Santa has an average of .71 miles to travel between each destination, or 307 million miles. Traveling at 13 million miles per hour will leave Santa no time for the actual delivery and cookie snatch, so we’ll bump him up to 15 million MPH.

Which will leave Santa with:


433 million stops to make in 22 hours and just about 0.00005 seconds for each delivery and cookie. (If he has a cookie at each house, he’ll end up consuming 203 billion calories, which explains the potbelly).


One interesting fact is that as Santa starts to travel faster, his reindeers will start to look odd. Due to the Doppler shift, as they travel faster, alert adults will notice that Rudolph’s nose changes from yellow to green and blue, before disappearing.

Rudolph the Blue-Nosed Reindeer just doesn’t sound the same.Rudolph_The_Red_Nosed_Reindeer

Out best of luck to Santa (and other the other logistics vendors investing so much to make so many people happy).

free sign up