By TMoM Team Member Katie Moosbrugger 

It’s been several years since I wrote the post “Please Don’t Make This the Last Year of Magic,” and for many years after, the magic continued in our house. Well, somewhat. Let’s discuss the science of Santa.

The History

I remember when my oldest was 11 and I was been hard at work trying to debunk every myth she’s heard about Santa from her friends at school and on the bus. I know you are thinking, “Give it up already!” Of course she knew the truth; I just wasn’t  ready to accept it yet.

It all started the summer before with the Tooth Fairy. I finally admitted it was a silly prank. And then the Elf secret came out of the bag. She soon started helping me hide him for her younger brother. Eventually, I had to give up the Easter Bunny too. But when it came to the big, jolly ol’ man in red…it was just so hard to let that one go.

Every time she would question the science of Santa, I would tell her that I still believed in him. I said it’s a secret I keep in my heart because I know not everyone shares the same belief. While discussing this issue, I suggested she do the same and not talk to her friends about it. As much as I wanted to believe those words made an impact, I’m sure she pondered the idea for – oh – maybe a few hours. Who was I really kidding?

Over time, I discovered it truly is a science of Santa, aka keeping the magic alive. For those of you who are just getting started with traditions with your little ones, I’m sharing some tried and true tricks of the trade. Of course, some of these have been around for years, but new ideas are always welcomed too. Please share yours in the comments below!

Don’t talk about exchanging Santa’s presents!

If your home is  like ours, Santa leaves gifts for everyone – not just the kids. He still does this today for my 17-year-old, my 14-year-old, and for Mom and Dad! However, if you have little ones, make sure your spouse or significant other reads who the gift is from before they open it! I can’t tell you how many times my husband has opened a gift from Santa and then asked– in front of the kids – which store it came from in case he needs to exchange it. (This is not following the guidelines of the science of Santa!) I always respond (while smiling and gritting my teeth), “Gosh, I have no idea. I think that sweater came from the North Pole!”

Use different wrapping paper

Under our tree, just about every gift is wrapped (click HERE to see a good debate on whether to wrap or not), and that includes gifts from Santa too. But in our house, Santa always used his own paper. This trick helped add to the magic but it also put me precarious situations. Such as the time my son found Santa’s wrapping paper hidden behind our bedroom dresser. Or the time my daughter recognized Santa’s wrapping paper (from two years prior) on gifts wrapped from Mommy and Daddy. Therefore, you might have to throw out (or give away) a lot of wrap after Santa leaves.

Put out a few unwrapped gifts

Santa is always in a big hurry so it makes sense if he doesn’t have the chance to wrap every single gift. Plus, kids assume Mom and Dad wrap everything, right?

Consider the quantity of gifts and dollar value from Santa

A teacher friend of mine brought this point to my attention. Every year when kids return to school, they inevitably talk about what presents they got from Santa. This usually turns to hurt feelings when some children discover what Santa brings. For instance, Johnny gets upset that Sally got twice as many gifts as he did. And Susie gets upset that she never got an iPhone but her classmate Billy got one. I never considered this dilemma in the past, but I quickly became mindful of it.

Send letters to and from Santa

I did this every year from a variety of places, and it’s a great way to reinforce that Santa is, in fact, “watching!” There are a million places that offer this service – some for free and some for a small fee – all you have to do is Google “Santa letters.” These days, you can even sign up to have Santa text your child! Brilliant ideas for keeping the science of Santa alive!

Show proof of his visit

This is a great way to keep the magic real! If you want to get more hi-tech than sticking a black boot in the fireplace, or tracking boot prints across your carpet, consider capturing a photo or video of Santa inside your house! I know of two sources that can help do this. Capture the Magic will deliver a photo of Santa, while the Kringl app creates a video. Your kids will be amazed!

Track Santa

This was a tradition we did every Christmas Eve. Both Norad Santa and Google’s Santa Tracker allows kids to see Santa’s sleigh in real time at any place on the globe. My kids (whether they believed or not) loved to watch his progress.

Reindeer food

Yet another tradition we used to follow when my kids were little. We would sometimes get reindeer food as a gift, or make it ourselves. Below is a simple recipe to follow, and it seems to attract the reindeer just fine! After you mix the ingredients below, have the kids sprinkle it on the front yard to help guide Santa’s sleigh to your yard.

  • 2 cups regular oats
  • 2 cups sunflower tropical birdseed mix
  • 2 tablespoons red decorator sugar crystals
  • 2 tablespoons green decorator sugar crystals
  • Combine all ingredients


Polar Express

This is a must for families in the Triad! Whether you make it an overnight excursion to Polar Express in Bryson City (about three hours from the Triad), or a day trip to Tweetsie Railroad in Boone or the Polar Express at the NC Transportation Museum in Salisbury (about an hour from the Triad), this is a memory worth making. If you haven’t been, you need to add this to your list one year. (Picture at top is from our ride in Bryson City!)

The Elf on the Shelf

We all know this trick by now! No need for an explanation, but HERE is an interesting take from a TMoM blogger who opted out of this tradition every year.

Which of these have you tried at home, and what other tricks can you add to my list?

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