The thrill of waiting for Santa is something we all remember – and want our children to experience, too. And, as the days count down to Christmas, there are lots of little things you can do to make Santa's arrival even more exciting and magical.


Here are our favourite simple-but-clever ways to make Father Christmas's visit to your house even more thrilling and special...

1. Looky here! It's a message from Santa!

Helping your child write a letter to Santa is actually a really useful way to find out what your child really wants for Christmas, plus it gets young primary schoolers practising their writing skills. And you can really add to the excitement by (secretly) bringing out your best swirly writing to create a reply from the friendly white-bearded present man.

If you're not really up for doing the writing yourself – or think your handwriting would be spotted as yours, however much you tried to disguise it, there are lots of personalised Santa letter services you can use, many of them free.

You can even arrange for Santa to call your child or send them a personalised video. Companies such as Portable North Pole do both of these – for a few – and also offer Santa reading a bedtime story and interactive gift tags for presents.

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2. Track Santa's journey

The US military – who obviously never grew out of their childhood Santa fandom – keep track of where Father Christmas is around the world at Norad Santa. The actual tracking doesn't start till December 24th but, in the days leading up, you can find games and Santa songs and Santa facts on the site.

You can also follow the sleigh's progress at Track Santa, which also offers daily updates on 'test flights' and other elf activities in the run up to Christmas. Or you can catch a sighting of Santa's sleigh (aka the International Space Station) as it passes over your house early on Christmas Eve morning.

3. Leave food out for Santa and his reindeer

Let your kids to choose what they think Santa would like (hinting at the slice of chocolate cake you've had your eyes on is optional!) before leaving a little plate out for him. You could even do a spot of family baking on Christmas Eve to rustle Father Christmas up something yummily homemade. Perhaps we could tempt you (sorry) him with some Chilly Penguin Cupcakes or Melting Snowman cookies?

And don't forget the reindeer – they need fuel for their journey too. Use our super-quick recipe for magical, eco-friendly reindeer food and sprinkle it outside for them to nibble while Santa parks his sleigh.

And, once the kids are asleep, write a note from Santa – or Rudolph – to say how much he enjoyed the snacks. It will really bring a smile to small faces – especially if you say it was the best food he had all night!

4. Make a secret key for Father Christmas

As kids get older, their Santa questions get harder. Just how does Santa get into your house if you don't have a chimney? And, OK, if he comes through the letterbox/electric fire/cat flap, how on earth does he fit through?

Swerve all the awkward explanations by mocking up a fake key for Santa and hanging it on the back door, letting your children know that as Father Christmas gets older and his chimney-climbing joints become less flexible, he likes to use the back door when he can.

5. Make sure Santa has his own wrapping paper

Santa wouldn't have the same Christmas wrapping paper as you, would he? So make sure presents from Santa have their own special paper. Little tags with Santa's signature – or Rudolph's hoof print – written in gold or glittery writing will give an extra feeling of authenticity.

6. Arrange things so Santa can find that 'sold out' present

This one requires a bit of pre-Christmas Day groundwork. Drop hints to your children that you don't think you're going to be able to get the doll/game/DVD they desperately want because it's sold out. Then on Christmas Day watch their faces light up when they realise Santa has managed to find it.

Pop a little note in with this one too, saying something about how hard it was to find (or make) the particular present, so they feel extra important that Santa went to all that trouble for them.

7. Create Santa tracks around the house

Sprinkling flour fake snow around the door or fireplace, or even near their presents is an easy way of showing how Santa stopped by. And crumbs on the plate of Santa food, obviously.

You could also leave boot marks in the snow/flour. Or even ball up a few sheets of newspaper, wrap them up like presents, then stamp on them and leave them between the chimney and the tree – as if someone heavy has trodden on some (unimportant) presents as they came in.

8. Take pictures of Santa in the house

Take 'photos' of Santa leaving gifts under the tree. This idea takes a bit more work, but a Santa hat, a big red jacket and black boots, along with a helpful friend or partner to click the camera button on your phone should do the trick. It's quite a laugh!

9. Get Father Christmas to accidentally leave something behind

If children think they've got something that's really Santa's, they'll be delighted! Perhaps Santa could accidentally leave part of his naughty or nice list behind or even a glove? Follow this with a letter arriving from Santa asking them to keep it safe until next year. This way, your kids will know that Santa thinks about them all year (plus they'll know he's definitely coming back next Christmas).

10. Send a postcard from Santa

A couple of weeks after Christmas 'send' a postcard from somewhere nice and warm such as Hawaii, signed by Santa. You can use this as a good opportunity for Santa to tell the kids to be good all year and to listen to you! He could also to thank them for keeping him well fed on Christmas Eve and being such nice, thoughtful children.


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Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.