9 Ways to Be the Best Santa Ever

If you’ve got kids in the house who believe in the (very real) Santa Claus, then you’re poised to earn yourself some major parenting points this holiday season. Nailing your role as Mr. or Mrs. Claus can be a challenge, but as long as you’re prepared to be a little clever and very jolly, we can pretty much guarantee you’ll knock it out of the chimney this time around. Here are some of our favorite tips for how to be the very best Santa you can be this year.

1.Hang the (Personalized) Stockings with Care—The mantel is where the magic happens on Christmas Eve, so don’t just throw up any old raggedy socks and call them stockings. Give the fireplace, wall or windowsill an extra-special feel by hanging personalized stockings for the whole family. And don’t forget the pets. The kids know Santa would never forget their furry family members, so don’t overlook this vital detail.

2. Make Sure Santa Is Totally in the Know—Remember that in order for Santa to know exactly what your kids want for Christmas, they have to tell him. Whether you sit down with the kiddos and have them send him an elaborate letter through the USPS, give him the down-low at the mall or write him an email from your phone, just make sure that the lists are sent loud and clear. Writing a letter to Mr. Claus or visiting the mall’s North Pole is part of the holiday fun!

3. Make the House Feel Like a Christmas Castle—One of the very best ways to get into a cheerful holiday state of mind is to deck the halls, as they say. Find a heartfelt Christmas decoration collection and go all out with the décor this year, hanging lights, boughs of holly, sparkly reindeer, nativity scenes, whatever. Make sure to enlist the kids’ help and tell them that Santa loves to see houses that are well-decorated for the holidays!

4. Track Santa on His Christmas Eve Journey—Part of the role of playing Santa involves keeping the dream alive and real for the little ones. To do that, you must make sure you track the big guy’s journey on Christmas Eve. Luckily, there are tons of fun ways to do this so you don’t miss a beat. The Google Santa Tracker is Google’s way of keeping tabs on St. Nick, while the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa with its own software, the NORAD Santa Tracker, for over 60 years. Be sure to keep an eye on both.

5. Stuff the Stockings with Stuff They’ll Adore—Looking to stock up on those aforementioned parenting points? Take time to pick out unique or personalized stocking stuffers you know they’ll adore. Whether it be a hat, toys, clothes or stuffed animals featuring their name or initials, you can be sure these gifts will help your kids feel the holiday spirit for years to come. And don’t forget to include at least a few items from the letter they wrote to Santa.

6. Wrap, Stuff and Visit When the Kids Are Fast Asleep—It should go without saying, but don’t start setting out presents or stuffing stockings until you’re 100 percent sure the kids are fast asleep. If possible, get up in the middle of the night when they’re the least likely to be awake, in order to stage the Christmas morning scene properly. And make sure to do a good job of hiding all of the presents throughout the holiday season—curious kids will find them!

7. Leave Behind Traces of Santa and Reindeer—Leave no evidence of your involvement in the situation, but definitely make sure Santa leaves a noticeable trace. If the kids have left out cookies or sweets for the big guy, make sure they’ve been at least nibbled. It’s also fun to stage little hints for the kids to find, such as a rogue white glove beneath the tree (Santa must have dropped it while rushing through his deliveries) or even some snowy footprints at the hearth. You can actually buy brilliant Santa footprints on Amazon to make it extra-realistic for the very young kiddos.

8. Be Discreet and Use Special Wrapping Paper—Try your best not to get sloppy about the logistics so that you don’t leave behind any evidence of your role of standing in for Santa. For example, you should definitely designate a special couple of rolls of wrapping paper just for gifts from Santa. If your kids see that Santa uses the same wrapping paper that Mom used to wrap Grandma’s gift, well, you’re going to have some explaining to do!

9. Don’t Take it Too Seriously—Parents are under constant pressure to make every holiday picture-perfect, so the last thing we want to do is add extra stress to your plate. As long as you’re enthusiastic and a little bit creative about all the holiday details, you can bet your little ones will rate you as the best Santa ever! Just rock that Santa hat with a smile and get excited for your kids to enjoy one of the most exciting days of the year. (In other words, do not be a Grinch!)

Make it Fun with Your Personal Spin

Every family does the holidays differently, and that’s what makes holiday memories so strong. Be sure to infuse a little bit of your own spice into your holiday routine—perhaps through a special event where Santa is present or by baking a family cookie recipe to leave out on Christmas Eve—and keep your traditions alive year after year. We’re sure that with all these tips, you’ll make the very best Santa this Christmas!