This weekend my husband and I were able to wrap up our Christmas shopping for our two girls. As we came home and hid the remainder of the gifts in our super secret spot hubs asked me “So, which gifts are from Santa?”. My head started spinning. Crap. Which of these piles of packages will be from the big guy and which will be from us- their HARD WORKING parents. I hadn’t thought about it yet. How do we decide? In the past, Santa has only ever brought our girls two to three presents. The rest of the gifts under the tree, they knew came from us.
Immediately my husband said that he thought the tablets should be the girls Santa gift. My immediate response was “No! Those were expensive! They should know we spent our hard earned money on them!” Then I got to thinking…we’ve only been in this parenting business for six years (although it feels like twenty), maybe we’re doing it all wrong…what IS the standard Santa gift protocol?
I did some very quick qualitative research (aka I Googled it) to see what other people did to solve this problem and also to hopefully validate me feeling like 3 gifts from Santa was the right thing to do. I was amazed to find multiple different solutions to the problem.
The One Expensive Gift
Some people give their children only one gift from Santa, usually the most expensive or largest. The pros of this are that the kids think Santa is bomb-diggity. The cons are that you are, well you are chopped liver because you got them pajamas and a book. Although I think it is kind of a neat idea for the big expensive Playstation 4 to come from Santa, especially if the kids have been asking him for it- I like my kids to know that their dad and I work hard. Damn hard. And we make sacrifices to make sure they have the best Christmas possible every year. I want them to know we spent that money on them by choice, not that the gift just happened to fall out of Santa’s bag because they were good most of the year.
What They Asked For
Many parents choose to get their kids whatever it is they ask for from Santa. We tried that for a couple of years. But if you have children you know that their wants change. Like Daily. So by the time we had tracked down that perfect pink sled that our oldest had asked Santa for while sitting on his lap, two days later she was onto something else. And we were stuck with a pink sled under the tree.
My girls also have a tendency to ask the big guy for EVERYTHING. The latest American Girl doll catalog arrives in the mail and 2 seconds later every item on all of the pages has a half-assed circle around it while they are screaming “Santa I want this! Santa I want this!” Newsflash: Santa isn’t going to get you the entire AG catalogue. We try to teach them not to be greedy and the importance of only asking for a few special things that they REALLY want, but at the ages of four and six, it hasn’t completely sunk in yet.
Another point to consider- what if they ask Santa for something that he just can’t provide? Like a freaking pony? What image of Santa will the kids have of him then when our yard doesn’t turn into a dang stable on Christmas Day? We have taught our girls that Santa has limits- like he doesn’t deliver live animals- but what if another child asks for a really expensive gift and his parents just can’t make it happen? And then he goes to school and sees that his friend asked Santa for the same expensive gift and he did get it? How do you explain that to children? That’s a tough one- one I’d like to avoid at all costs.
One of the most interesting traditions I found was where Santa only fills the stockings in the house- all of the other presents are from the parents. It keeps things simple, you have total control over what presents go under the tree and can get creative with what goes in the stockings without blowing the bank. Santa always fills the girls stockings in our house, but he also always leaves a few gifts. This spin on stockings sounds like it could be a really fun tradition- but not one we could start since Santa has already left presents under the tree in years past.
We Don’t Do “Santa”
After doing all of my “super professional” research and feeling stressed, I am kind of feeling like this is the way to go! Kidding not kidding. Some families just don’t do the “Santa” thing. I’m not going to lie, at first I thought this was absurd. Come on-get in the spirit! Now though, I understand it more. Some choose not to indulge in Santa because they don’t want their kids to know that they were just lying to them for however many years about a jolly ol’ soul sneaking down their chimney. After realizing this the mom guilt laid on thick and I panicked how I would one day tell my own girls the truth. I totally respect people’s decision to not do the Santa thing with their children- as long as they don’t ruin it for mine!
After looking at all of our options, I came to realize that there really isn’t a standard Santa gift protocol. You just do what is right for your family. We are right back at square one- Santa will probably continue to leave two to three presents for our kids with the majority coming from us. At the end of Christmas morning I want to hear “Thank you for all of the gifts mom and dad!” more than I want to hear “Thank you Santa!”
What is the Santa gift protocol at your house? Do you have a tradition that I missed? Be sure to tell me in the comments!
~Mama in the Mitten