Christmas, for so many people, is about magic. The sparkle and fun. Family traditions and getting together. Admittedly nowadays it can drag out from the end of November (I like to go early to Christmas light shows before they get too busy). But as children get older it’s harder to keep the magic of Christmas alive. Especially when that involves Father Christmas.
N is 9 years old this year so I’m expecting this might be his last year of believing in Father Christmas. With a dad who’s a Christmas Bah Humbug, it’s hard to make things special anyway. N isn’t a big believer in magic, but he likes the Christmas traditions. I’m sure he’ll be happy enough to go along with still believing in Santa given he’ll still want a Christmas stocking!
Last year there were a lot of questions about Father Christmas which sounded like he was erring on the disbelief. But then he’d answer his own questions and talk himself back into it again. No creative white lies needed from me.
We’ve never really done all the tracking of Father Christmas and the extra bits like reindeer food, but there’s so many options if you really want to go to town on making Christmas more real. I’ve pulled together some of the ideas you could try out. They’re great for younger children and setting up traditions. But you can even recreate the magic for old children with younger siblings. Because getting non believers involved with keeping up the magic of Christmas might keep it going for longer. And including the magic in your Christmas even as an adult can be fun.
How to keep the magic of Christmas alive for children
(Clue, Father Christmas is a good start)
1, Write to Father Christmas
In the past we’ve just written to Father Christmas when we’ve been out for Christmas day trips like at Waddesdon Manor. They usually have a post box going directly to Santa although you don’t get a response. To really make your child’s day, get them to post their letter via Royal Mail and they’ll get a free response. Address it to Santa/Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland XM4 5HQ (UK). Add a return address for a response, but deadline’s tend to be early in December so keep an eye online for the date this year.
There are more and more commercial versions where you can order extras like certificated and more, but why not use the everyday postal service.
2, Have a Christmas Eve tradition
Leave out mince pie, milk and carrots. Although choose the tipple and snacks well, I try and avoid mince pies – bleurgh, preferring a biscuit. But N doesn’t go for that suggestion now he’s older. I encourage N to also write a little note. Father Christmas obviously needs to drink and eat, and a nibble out of the carrots by the reindeer makes it so much more special. A reply to the note helps as well.
If you’ve got an open fire, put a bit of sooty footprint on the hearth. Or stomp on the door mat.
3, Make Father Christmas appear in your house
By the magic of photoshop, you can create a photo of Santa next to your tree. There are also websites that will do this for you too.
4, Visit 1 grotto
I don’t understand why people visit lots of Santa’s grottos in the same year. When they’re younger I suppose children don’t realise they’re all different, but you do get good and bad Santas. The best one we visited was at Millet’s Farm – along with Mrs Claus and the elves in their workshop. It was a real experience, and for nervous children it’s a group, with no having to go into booths. Just a photo opportunity at the end.
We also saw a good one at a railway event – he was really jovial and friendly (and it’s always good when they know the child’s name). It is pot luck but I’d find out first if it’s just one Santa or lots of rooms and it’s pot luck which you see (our experience was better where there’s been only 1).
The year we did a second visit (with a pretty big gap from the first) N worked out he’d seen a second one because he didn’t know his name despite having known it the first time. N decided that the real Father Christmas hasn’t got time to visit all the towns, so he has reps and stand ins.
5, Read Christmas stories
One that I love from my childhood, and we’ve read regularly each year so far with N, is The Night before Christmas. Not all versions are the authentic version, but it always feels so magical and anticipatory for the big day.
There’s so many Christmas books out there, you can build up a collection and rotate them during advent. We also liked Mog’s Christmas, and The Christmas Stocking. The Christmasaurus is good for primary age children.
6, Track Father Christmas
There’s several ways you can do it. If your children like to see where normal everyday couriered parcels are (or is it just me and mine who love the Amazon parcel tracker to see how many stops away we are), then tracking Father Christmas around the world on Christmas eve is a must.
Google has a Santra tracker with fun games on the website. You can also countdown the days til Christmas on there.
There’s also the ‘Norad Santa Tracker which opens in December.
7, Get older siblings involved with the excitement
If you do Elf on the Shelf (it’s not our thing), why not get older siblings to do this as part of the Christmas run up.
Just a few ideas on how to keep Father Christmas and the magic of Christmas alive for children.
What traditions do you have in the holiday season?
This post is part of my Blogmas series. Here’s the last 5 days’ posts.