Santa’s job isn’t as easy as it looks. Sometimes Santa gets it just right. Once my three year old daughter stripped down in front of 20 people to put on a sparkly red velvet Christmas dress she’d just opened. Sometimes Santa gets it wrong, like when he accidentally bought the African American version of Princess Annaliese on e-bay. My daughter said, “That’s not Princess Annaliese. Princess Annaliese has blond hair.” My family was spending Christmas Eve at my brother’s house a couple of years ago when the big guy stopped by for a visit. The kids were each enjoying a turn on Santa’s lap when out of the blue my daughter asked for a Barbie castle. Seeing the terrorized looks on my husband’s and my faces, Santa kindly said he may be all out of Barbie Castles and was there anything else she would like. What a relief when she came up with the correct answer — a pony castle where Barbies can drop by for a visit anytime.
Santa also has to deal with budget constraints. When my daughter excitedly showed me the $300 Bratz jeep in the Christmas toy catalog I had to say, “Santa has to buy toys for all the children in the world. Go find something cheaper.”
Here are some ways I’ve found to make sure Santa gets the job done right, with less hassle. My three kids have to put their requests in writing. Santa gets a list from each in the mail every year. My kids understand they will not get everything on their list. It’s just a list for Santa to choose from. The thing they want the most should be underlined, circled with stars drawn around it, or anything else to get Santa’s attention. After the letter is sent, kids are not allowed to change their mind. That would make too much work for Santa.
Little kids don’t understand when one thing is more expensive than another, so it’s imperative that Santa leave the same number of presents for each child under the tree, not the same value of presents. You can fudge by wrapping some presents together in the same box if one child is getting more, but cheaper, items and another less, but more expensive, items.
Pump your kids for detailed descriptions of the presents they want. “Do you want the blue one or the red one?” Look closely at product descriptions when buying on the internet. (Kids do notice when the blond Barbie princess is suddenly kickin’ it with her homies.)
If possible, assemble the booty before Christmas Eve. (Otherwise you may be up very late placing 30 tiny stickers in the their correct spots on the pony castle.) Some things are not that “easily assembled.” Assembling early also saves Santa from late night trips to the drug store for batteries. It also gives him time to return any items that are missing parts or don’t work.
Don’t forget the stocking stuffers! This is Santa’s chance to have some fun and get whatever he wants. One year I think my two year-old son liked the palm-size super bouncy ball he got in his stocking most of all. Lip gloss is always a hit with my daughters. ( Just don’t get a bright purple shade since you will be taking pictures the rest of the day.)
Santa’s final touch at our house is a note to the kids, thanking them for his favorite cookies and thanking them for being very good this year, making his job that much easier.