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5 genius ways to keep the magic of Santa Claus alive for your children

The magic of Santa Claus will burn brightly for your kids with these tips

As a parent, looking back at the memories of your own Christmas past stirs up a desire to recreate the same magic of Santa Claus for your own children. From the time-honored traditions of leaving cookies and milk on an end table (while making sure the kids see the half-eaten cookie and empty glass the next morning) to using wrapping paper that’s different from the rest of the gifts, you already have plenty of ideas for keeping the magic going.

But kids get older and wiser. And as your children get older, they grow more skeptical about the existence of the jolly old man. They stay up later and even set traps to try to capture Santa. That means parents have to get craftier themselves. We’ve pitched in to help by putting together these tips to keep the magic of Santa Claus alive in your home — at least for a few more years.

Santa sitting with a little girl going over the list

Magical help with assistance from technology

Watch the magic of Santa Claus’ journey in real time

One way to build up the excitement is to check on Santa’s progress through the NORAD Tracks Santa initiative. This program originated with a child’s accidental phone call to CONAD (Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center) in 1955. Colonel Shoup, who took the call, kindly told the little girl that the Air Force would guarantee safe travels for Santa on Christmas Eve.

From then on, volunteers participated in the tracking of Santa’s sleigh by relaying his location. NORAD inherited the tradition and now uses social media to reveal Santa’s whereabouts. You and your family log into Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see when St. Nick is heading your way. If the United States Air Force has the inside scoop on Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve, then he must be real! We’ve been doing this with our older kiddos and it’s really a ton of fun for the kids and adults.

Take a video call from Santa

Continue the magic of Santa Claus by facilitating a video call between him and your children. There are some great options out there. Visit a website called Video Chat with Santa to schedule an appointment for your children to have a live chat, or create more of a buy-in by showing your kids the “live” video of Santa waiting for calls to come through. Just remember to click on the “full screen” icon before the kids enter the room.

Another fun way to chat with Santa is to download the free app known as Video Call Santa. The app features your choice of an American or British Santa and incoming or outgoing calls. Additionally, have the video chat recorded and saved to your camera roll. The best part is you’ll have access to these recordings using a passcode so you can find out what your children told Santa they want for Christmas. That is a win every parent could use.

Santa looking at list on laptop with presents around him

Magical help with assistance from the adults

The Elf on the Shelf

As a parent, who can resist getting almost a month’s worth of “good behavior” starting the day after Thanksgiving? All while contributing to the cause of continuing the magic of Santa Claus during the holiday season. By employing the Elf on the Shelf, the whole family will enjoy the laughs and intrigue when searching for the elf each day as they roam about the house, keeping an eye on who’s naughty or nice.

To add to the giggles, dress your elf in various costumes and themes. Or have your elf play pranks during the season. Even your teenagers will scratch their heads in wonder when they wake up to find the elf playing with their game system sitting beside a bowl of popcorn. If there are two adults in the house, take turns so everyone gets a chance to be surprised in the morning as to what shenanigans that little elf got up to.

Reindeer food

Get the reindeer involved to achieve the full effect on Christmas morning. The night before, you and your family will leave out carrots, apples, or oats mixed with sparkly sugar sprinkles. Skip the glitter as it’s not good for the environment or your sanity.

Also, the carrots and apples are an easy option to scatter in the yard if you don’t have time to create a mixture. If your children start getting curious about the lack of hoof prints, remind them that Santa and his team have many stops, so they’re in a hurry and they might eat on the go, like when you have to go to the drive-thru. Regardless of the explanation, just imagine their smiles on Christmas morning when they see a “gap” where oats used to be or find carrots with the tips bitten off.

Santa’s footprints

What if Santa accidentally left one of his boots? Or perhaps he forgot to shake off the snow after sliding down the chimney. Your children wouldn’t expect to find snowy footprints in the living room or in the entryway. One way to pull this off is to leave a black boot covered with flour by the fireplace or front door.

You could also dump enough baking soda on the floor to leave a thin layer of artificial snow with a footprint behind. If skeptical questions arise, remind the little ones that North Pole snow from Santa’s workshop is magical, so it doesn’t melt like regular snow.

While some of these methods for keeping the magic of Santa Claus alive will require some late hours on your part, the expressions of joyful surprise and gasps of awe — not to mention the photo ops to share with family and friends — will make it worthwhile. Plus, parents never sleep the month of December, anyway. Christmas only comes once a year, and childhood goes by quickly. Make the most of this special holiday time and share in your children’s sense of Christmas wonder for as long as they’ll let you.

Editors' Recommendations

Leslie Anderson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Leslie Anderson is a freelance writer/writing coach from Roswell, N.M. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and helping students…
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