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 letter and video from Santa!
Helping your child write a letter to Santa can help you find out what your child really wants for Christmas, plus it gets young primary schoolers practising their writing skills. And why not add to the excitement by bringing out your best swirly writing to create a reply.
Or go one better, and arrange for Santa to email your child a personalised video for free! PNP (Portable North Pole) offers a friendly personalised video message which is guaranteed to make your child feel special.
Read more: Personalised Santa messages tried and tested
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 on their website (Norad Santa). Alternatively, you follow the sleigh's progress at Track Santa, which offers daily updates.
3. Leave food out for Santa and his reindeer
Get your kids to choose what they think Santa would like (hinting at the big chocolate cake in the kitchen is optional!) before leaving a little plate out for him. Make it a fun event for Christmas Eve by baking something for him together. Perhaps we could tempt
you (sorry) him with White chocolate and cranberry cookies or Chocolate orange brownies.
And don't forget the reindeer – they need fuel for their journey too. Sprinkle some food outside for them (they like museli, or so we're told) or leave a carrot if you're feeling healthy. Leaving a note from Santa – or Rudolph – to say how much he enjoyed the food will really bring a smile to their faces – especially if you say it was the best food he had all night!
4. Secret key for Father Christmas
As kids get older their questions get harder. Just how does Santa fit through your letter box, electric fire or tiny chimney? So, why not mock up a fake key for Santa and hang it on the back door, letting your children know that as Father Christmas gets older and plumper, he likes to use the back door when he can!
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5. 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 written in gold or glittery writing will give it an extra feeling of authenticity.
6. Only 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) so they feel extra important that Santa went to all that trouble.
7. Santa tracks around the house
Boot marks near the front door or chimney are an easy way of showing how Santa stopped by. Careful if you're using crumbs of food or crushed sugar - in the morning you might find a sea of ants. Sprinkling fake snow around the door or fireplace, or even near their presents, is another lovely Father Christmas calling card.
8. 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 will do the trick and you'll have some fun staging the pics too!
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 listen to you and also to thank them for keeping him well fed on Christmas Eve.
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