Org Chart: Santa

When I was a kid, my belief in Santa began to crack when I noticed the little inconsistencies that occurred each time he visited.


One year, Santa’s team of reindeer left a mangled mess of chewed carrots and apples all over the front yard. Inside, cookie crumbs were carefully sprinkled next to a crumpled, empty beer can. It was truly inspiring.


The next year, however, my parents must have been incredibly distracted (read: lazy). We forgot to leave a snack for the Big Man, but still got presents anyway. Perhaps that could explain why the Barbie townhouse was left in its box – and not assembled by a team of busy elves?


With two kids of my own, I am constantly freaking out that I’ll inadvertently reveal Santa’s true identity and leave them in tears. Before they grow too old (and smart) for their own good, some effort is needed to keep the spirit of Santa alive in our home. Here are five traditions I developed along the way.



I disagree with suggestions to wrap gifts from Santa in their own special paper. Not only is it a hassle, but you run the risk of having the paper supply found crammed under your bed. Instead, leave these gifts unwrapped and set them up on Christmas Day. As a bonus, it will give kids something to do while you stumble around looking for coffee at 6 a.m.


Keep It Simple

For most kids, it’s enough to wake up Christmas morning to discover an empty plate where Santa’s snack was the night before. But if you want to go the extra mile with other elements, such as sooty boot prints throughout the house, just make sure it’s something you can see yourself doing year after year.


Letters to Santa

If your kids want to send a letter to Santa, address it to: Santa Claus, 1 Candy Cane Lane, North Pole. To receive a response from the Big Man, write it yourself and put it in a properly stamped enveloped addressed to your child. Include “Santa, North Pole, Alaska” as the return address in the upper left corner. Place this in a larger envelope and mail it by Dec. 10 to: North Pole Christmas Cancellation, Postmaster, 5400 Mail Trail, Fairbanks, AK 99709-9998. Letters are handled by official U.S. Postal Service elves.


Details, Details

A tradition can be as simple as turning off the home alarm system on Christmas Eve because you don’t want Santa to set it off. Or, perhaps, leave your child in doubt as to whether you’ll get her a particular gift and then, voila, Santa comes to the rescue Christmas morning. You only need a few of these to keep the fantasy alive.


Be Prepared

Kids can ask a lot of questions about Santa, and there will be times when you’re caught off guard. In a pinch, answer the question with, “What do YOU think?” Even a simple “I don’t know,” will buy you some time to think. Good luck!

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