Santa vs parents? How do you do Christmas presents?

How many of your children's gifts come from Santa? Is the end of the bed the best place for a stocking? What's the 4-gift rule? Our mums share what they've learnt from family Christmasses past – so you can get it right 1st time...

christmaspresents

Christmas with kids probably means a fair few gifts for most of us. But how exactly do you ‘do’ Christmas presents from Santa for the children? Do all the presents come from Father Christmas? Or just some? Do presents from Santa get wrapped in a special way? Where do you put them? How many do you give – and why is ‘Santa wrap’ so important?

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We asked our mums to share their top tips on things they’ve learned over the years about how to ‘do’ (and not do) presents from Santa for your children: the little hints and tips to keep the magic of Christmas alive – as well as keeping your sanity on a halfway decent keel. Take a look…

How do you do presents from Santa? Mums share their 10 top tips…

1. Don’t make all the presents come from Santa

Unless you want your child to remember forever and a day that Christmas when they realised for the 1st time that you and Daddy haven’t got them a thing, you may not want to give Santa all the credit for your child’s Christmas haul.

“I was devastated when my daughter, at the age of 6, commented how Daddy and I had got her nothing the Christmas before,” says Tara B in the MadeForMums team. “And that’s because I’d foolishly said all the presents come from Santa. “I’ve learnt from my mistake, and from now on, she’ll get 3 or 4 from him and the rest from Mummy and Daddy.”

“I do think it is nice to get a gift from Mum and Dad,” says Sarah E in our MadeForMums Facebook community. “My children’s gifts have always all been from Santa but, in the last couple of years, my older 2 have had a gift off me, too.”

Quite a lot of our mums, though, like to make the big presents definite parent or wider-family gifts: “We have decided that all big presents will be from family,” says Emma P, “and then they will each have a few little presents in a stocking from Santa.”

2. Though Santa can bring all the presents

“Presents are from Mummy and Daddy and stockings are from Father Christmas – but he brings everything,” Rebecca C in our MadeForMums Facebook community tells us.

We really like this idea: it shows plenty of involvement from Santa himself but it’s clear that Mum and Dad have had a big part in the present process too. Win, win!

And Kayleigh A takes it one step further. “We tell our kids that we get their presents but Santa keeps them,” she says, “and he only returns them on Christmas Day if they’re on the Good List. Otherwise, the presents will be to the good children instead. It works for us!”

3. Don’t be tempted to buy too much when they’re really little

As easy as it is to get carried away with the whole Christmas vibe, lots of our mums have advised that it’s not a good idea to go to OTT when it comes to presents when they’re too little to appreciate it – or remember it.

Christy J in our MadeForMums Facebook community says, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much on gifts when they were babies and didn’t care what they got!”

And Sophie H was grateful for the tip:”It’s my daughter’s 1st Christmas and we’re not going overboard now as 1) she won’t realise and 2) we would feel we have to do that every year… ”

And, actually, even when they’re older, it’s worth restraining the impulse to buy loads. “This year, we are only having 1 or 2 pressies from Santa and the rest from Mummy and Daddy,” says Emma R. “I’m not buying a lot of ‘plastic tat’ again, as most of is never looked at.

4. Send money to Santa to buy the gifts

There’s a fine line between wanting to have a sense of magic around Christmas and making sure your child grows up knowing at least something of the value of money.

One thing quite a few mums told us is that they tell their children they’ve sent money to Santa, so he can then buy and deliver the gifts.

“I was always told growing up that Mam and Dad sent money to Santa for the presents,” says Rachel S in our MadeForMums Facebook community. “I’ll definitely be saying the same to my son Theo when he gets older.”

Just like the idea of Santa bringing the gifts you bought, doing presents this way shows that you’ve put some investment in the presents, and that they’ve not just come from Lapland for free.

5. Think about sticking to ‘the 4-gift rule’

In case you haven’t heard of it, the 4-gift rule is all about keeping it simple with a mix of nice-to-haves and useful gifts.

“I’m definitely going with the 4-gift rule,” says Katherine P in our MadeForMums Facebook community. “So that’s something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need.”

And while Rebecca C isn’t sticking to this rule exactly, she agrees that Christmas is a good time to get some practical gifts in. She says, “We try not to go mad and they get more clothes and books from us than toys.”

6. Plan where to put the stockings

There are a number of classic places for stockings, with the end of the child’s bed being 1 of the most popular.

But if your child’s a light sleeper (and what child isn’t on Christmas night?) or you’re not a quiet stocking filler, the option of a stocking by the fireplace (or somewhere similar in your house) might be better than trying to fill it in your little one’s room, or taking it out, putting the presents in and putting it back – all in stealth silence.

“I know my friends have done stockings on beds,” says Sarah E in our MadeForMums Facebook community. “I do not risk this: I would never make it out without waking them!”

7. Make sure you use ‘Santa wrap’…

For Father Christmas’ presents, you probably don’t want to use regular wrap that your kids might spot on other gifts.

“I’ve got a special sack from Father Christmas, says Claire H in our MadeForMums Facebook community, “and I use a special wrapping paper every year (I stocked up on it in a sale!) so my daughter knows that presents in that paper come from Father Christmas.”

If that’s a bit too much forethought for you, why not have a simple theme you can stick with every year? So, for example, presents from Santa always come wrapped in brown paper or plain gold…

That way, as soon as the kids see those particular parcels on Christmas morning, they’ll know exactly who they’re from.

8. …. but don’t necessarily wrap everything

Helen B on the MadeForMums team regrets ever starting to wrap all the little stocking gifts in different paper for each of her 3 children. And Sarah E agrees: “I also hate wrapping stocking presents – it takes forever.”

If you’re looking for a half-way house, especially when it comes to the stocking gifts, you could always wrap a couple at the top and leave the rest unwrapped. Or wrap the gifts lightly in tissue paper without using sticky tape.

That’s what works for Claire D: “I avoid wrapping every present 1) because I hate wrapping 2) it saves all the waste. Put things in cardboard boxes (children love them) or wrap things in tissue paper – minus sticky tape, so it’s easy to open and then the tissue paper can be reused.”

9.  Put the name labels on before you forget what everything is

Straight after wrapping stuff, it’s easy to remember what’s what. But, trust us, go back to those unlabelled packages a couple of weeks later and you’ll be clueless as to which present is which.

We wholly recommend getting those name labels on as soon as you’ve got the gifts wrapped. But, if you don’t want to write out names for everything, you could do what Sarah E does: “I wrap each child’s presents in a different colour, so I can wrap them all in advance and know whose is whose without having to put names on.”

10. Don’t forget where you’ve hidden everything

And finally, we know this one sounds obvious but, if you like to be organised and start early, there’s a fair chance you’ll forget where you’ve stashed everything.

Anna A in our MadeForMums Facebook community, tells us that’s exactly what she does: “I love Christmas. I start very early and then forget where I put things – usually over-buying as a result, because I’ve forgotten what I’ve got.”

If you do like to get the presents in early, try and have a definite ‘place’ for them (or 1 place per child) so you don’t, in February, discover something you squirrelled away and think: “Oh, yes,  I totally forgot about that!”

Pics: Getty

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