Every year around the holidays, I get a lot of questions about how to talk to kids about Santa. I am hesitant to share about this topic because I know every family has their own traditions and values when it comes to the holidays – what feels good for my family may not work for you. As I share how my husband and I decided to go about this topic, I want you to remember that it’s important to tune into your own family values as you consider how to have these conversations about Santa with your children. 

Come up with a story that fits with your values

Spend some time thinking about what you want your children to believe about Santa. How can you incorporate your values into this story? Take time to discuss this together before talking to your children. It’s essential to be on the same page and be ready for any questions you might get from your children. They may have heard different stories about Santa from friends, so being prepared for these questions can be helpful! After having this conversation with my husband, we decided to tell our children how Santa is real and can live in our imaginations. Here is the story we shared with our oldest daughter when she started asking us about Santa (remember to choose a story that fits with your values!)

Our story

“There was a man named St. Nicholas who gave presents to children who needed them a long time ago. This time of year, it’s fun to think of the kindness St. Nicholas had as he shared gifts with children who needed them. People call St. Nicholas “Santa” now, and they love to imagine he is real. Your presents are from us, and we give them to you because we love to share joy with you. Gifts are just one of the ways we do that this time of year. Our favourite thing to do is just to be with you. You make this time of year so special to us!” This story helped us talk to our daughter about Santa in a way that was in tune with our values while still keeping it a fun part of the holidays for our family. As we were coming up with the story we wanted to share with our children, we considered some of the most common issues typically associated with Santa. We made sure to cover them in a way that, again, fit within our values and that our kids would understand.

Presents aren’t a big deal

As a therapist, I’ve seen firsthand many children comparing what they received over the holidays to what their peers received. This is one reason we didn’t want to make presents a big deal, and why we want to make sure our children know the gifts come from us.

Scrap the “Naughty or Nice” language

In our family, the idea of receiving gifts based on whether you have been good or bad throughout the year doesn’t fit within our values. We steer clear of the naughty and nice language, and let our children know that we don’t give gifts based on their behaviour. Our gifts come from a place of love and wanting to share joy with them. 

Make new traditions

It is also important in our family to consider how our children want to celebrate the holiday season. In our conversations about Santa, we asked our daughter what would be fun for her, and we explained that we could imagine Santa and make our own new traditions. We have started a few new traditions for our own family, like watching Christmas movies and drinking Hot Chocolate together. It’s been so fun watching our oldest daughter create the magic of the season through play and imagination – she loves to play Santa all year long! Her younger sister is starting to understand a little bit about Santa, and it’s been so cool hearing our Santa story retold by our oldest. 

Watching our children experience the magic of Santa makes me wonder if the magic is really about Santa, or is it about the way he can bring us into a closer relationship with our loved ones?