Are you looking to help your child believe in Santa a little longer? Or are you looking to have some fun and reinvention the Santa idea for your children? Either way, following are ways you can brighten the magic of the Christmas spirit with Santa.
Leading Up to Christmas
Catch a parade. The Christmas season begins in November now. Thanksgiving is squeezed in, but alas, it is preparation time for the big man to visit! If there is a Santa or Christmas parade near you, usually on Thanksgiving weekend, make a point to attend. If it's in the morning, grab a box of donuts, some coffee, and probably a blanket or two and head to the street. Everybody loves a yard!
Early results. (This works best if you have a fireplace, but if not, leaving a gift on the table works too.) Wrap a small gift and attach a note. If your child (ren) has been particularly good, reinforce the notification. If not, a note to the effect of, "I'm watching you * insert name here *. I do not want you on my naughty list this year! "Place the present just inside the flue of the chimney, and with action and noise throughout the day (running always jarred mine out) the gift will drop down. The kids will see it and immediately scamper to the window, looking for the sleigh. The note can help behavior issues too.
Missing cookies. Make a batch of Christmas cookies and leave them out, in a bag or under saran wrap. In the morning, make a point of asking who ate some of your cookies (make sure to remove some the night before). After looking around a minute, discover a note with simply "Thanks, Santa" on it. The same trick can be applied to cars but with Rudolph or a reindeer name on the note.
Have a personalized letter sent. Make sure to include details like things they want, things they have done or completed through the year. When your child receives that letter, their eyes will light up with anticipation. Christmas is just around the corner!
Another Letter. Have your child write a letter to Santa. This one does not have to be a list of wants, but more conversational. It makes Santa seem more like a person than a gift service. Ask about Mrs. Claus, how the reindeer are, the elves, etc. When you are doing your duties later, be sure to reply to the letter in disguised handwriting. The letter can be kept and put in scrapbooks or memory albums for reference.
Watch the web. There is a website that tracks Santa and his whereabouts on Christmas Eve. The owners of the site [http://www.noradsanta.org/en/default.php] use cute recordings to make it look like live broadcasts updating Santa's location and where he will be stopping next. It urges children in the time zone to go to sleep!
The goodies. Do not forget to leave some cookies and milk out for Santa. You can also leave a carrot or two for the reindeer. Another treat for the reindeer is to put out reindeer food (birdseed). Make sure to put it out early enough so that the birds eat it before morning! If not, go and move it around so it looks like reindeer munched around it in the night. Sprinkle some glitter and call it magic dust – this wows the kids every time!
Footprints. If you are a neat freak, this may not be the best plan. Footprints can be left in several ways, depending on where you live. If you have snow, track in wet and slightly muddy prints near the tree and / or fireplace. I have actually put boots on my hands, went into the yard to get them dirty, and carried them in on my hands to place around the tree. I have also known people to put footprints tracking up the wall! If you are feeling really brave and there is snow on the roof, go up there and create some tracks!
Create a signature for Santa and keep it the same every year. Use the same wrapping paper from Santa or have him sign each present he leaves with an "S." Create your own unique trademark and use it annually.
Jingle Bells. This can work anytime of the year too. Leave a jingle bell out and prominently display it. The next morning, leave a note from Santa saying something like, "Thanks for watching my bell. See you next year. "Or" I dropped this while I was checking my list! See you in a few months! "
The biggest help to having your children believe is if you also believe. Embrace the magic of the season and your children will, too. Children will follow in your footsteps and believe in Santa and his magic.