Welcome to the Love Santa Blog

We share lots of Christmas related ideas, recipes and crafts in the Love Santa blog. You are welcome to comment or submit your own Christmas stories, too.

Christmas in Auckland

Have you spent a Christmas in Auckland?

I haven’t, but our friend Jen is currently over there on a holiday and sent us back some photos and stories to give us a taste of an Auckland city Christmas!

Christmas in Auckland city

A Christmas tree in front of the 328m tall Sky Tower in Auckland - the tree is green with gold ribbons and looks small beside the tower!

Auckland’s 328m Sky Tower makes the Christmas tree look small despite being quite tall itself!

A large red with green sots Christmas bauble with a backdrop of Auckland's city buildings

Not only is this Christmas ornament huge, it is also squishy!
The surrounding, smaller baubles are rigid.

A tall golden nutcracker standing beside palm trees as art of Christmas in Auckland

I love thus nutcracker! His face seems hay and smiling, and his colouring is stylish.

A view of the Christmas display in Auckland - colourful stars, Christmas trees and presents atop a white structure that people can walk through

Walk or sit under colourful, cheerful Christmas shapes!

With tall city buildings n the background, man views colourful pillars on which green and yellow Christmas tree and star shapes sit

Another colourful addition of Christmas icons in the main city area – stars and Christmas trees atop pillars!

What about Santa?

If you had been to Auckland prior to 2020, you may have noticed Santa in Queen St. He was pretty hard to miss as he was 18 metres tall and weighted 5 tonne!

The huge Santa, with a winking eye and curling finger, welcomed Kiwi shoppers to the city for about 60 Years (minus a few years in the Manukau Shopping Centre during the 1990s). However, he was retired at the end of Christmas 2019.  The fibreglass Santa and two reindeer was purchased for Wanaka’s National Transport and Toy Museum – at the princely sum of $1! But the cost and effort to transport him 1500km to the south of the South Island must have been huge.

So far, only Santa’s face has been fully restored – you can see him outside the fire station at the museum. The rest of Santa will hopefully be on view again in the future.

Have you ever seen Auckland’s huge Santa? If so, did you think he was creepy?

Christmas in Auckland

What type of Love Santa letter should I get?

Collage of four photos showing children of different ages opening a Love Santa letterThis is a common question – which Love Santa letter should I order for the special children in my life? Are all Love Santa letters personalised?

Love Santa letter types

There are twelve different Love Santa letters each year, grouped into five letter types you can chose between. So, each child gets a letter to suit them – and that’s before the letters are edited and personalised.

All Love Santa letters include a laugh, positive messages and references to leaving Santa a snack and Christmas traditions (like elves, reindeer, boomers, and the North Pole). However, as different age groups have different perspectives so we write letter types accordingly.

Letter typeWho it will delight
BabyAimed at new babies (ie under one year) and it has comments like ‘Merry first Christmas”
ChildThis letter suits most children, even if they may suit another letter type!
TweenAimed at 9-12 year olds, with comments about being a bit older and still enjoying Christmas
TeenAimed at 13-18 year olds with slightly older content
AdultAimed at those aged 18 or older, with references about it being a busy season

These are just guidelines, of course. For example, an nineteen year old with Downs Syndrome may be happy with a teen or tween letter and a mature 12 year could relate to a teen letter.

Note that each letter type has at least one alternative so that siblings will get different letters for the truly personalised delight. And Love Santa letters are written every year so they are different every time.

Every letter type is personalised with the same sort of data, although baby letters often include less (for example, a newborn doesn’t have a favourite colour!)

So, why not delight some special children now?




What type of Love Santa letter  should I get?

Six degrees of Santa~ Christmas movie review

Six degrees of Santa Title screen of movie Six Degrees of Santa showing a woman in a Santa hat

Movie length: 89 minutes
Directed by Michael Kennedy
Premiered: 2022

The plot

A single mum helps in her family business and runs a Christmas gift program called Six Degrees of Santa. But should she keep Six degrees anonymous or not? And how will she keep the family business going?

My Christmas movie review

For starters, Six Degrees of Santa (the program) is a gift program where someone prepares a gift and gives it anonymously to a stranger or peripheral acquaintance (like your postie, the man you see on the train every day, the lollipop lady). That person enjoys the present for a day or two then also passes it on. This continues until the sixth person who gets to keep the present. Ideally, the present has special meaning to the original Santa, like a Christmas movie you love watching or  favourite game or puzzle.

Movie scene from six degrees of Santas showing woman walking up to her Christmas decorated paper shop

Harper arrives at her shop

So the movie starts with Harper (Kathryn Davis) explaining this program on a video for her website. Then she and her daughter pack their six degree boxes.

Six degrees of Santa (the movie) is a romance, and the ending is not exactly a surprise! But how they get there is less obvious.

Local entrepreneur and internet guru, Jason Sparks (Steve Lund), runs a number of enterprises, including one Harper used to work for. Currently, is focus is the Sparkle tree – a ready decorated Christmas tree you can order online. Harper doesn’t like the Sparkle tree as it is too commercialised and interferes with the tradition of choosing a tree from a farm. While I understand her sentiment, I think the Sparkle trees are pretty and no more commercial than artificial trees from any department store.

Jason ends up being the recipient of Harper’s Santa gift, and is so touched by the gift that he wants to meet the Secret Santa. Not wanting to tell him, but wanting to make a business deal with Jason, Harper gets a friend to pretend to e the relevant Secret Santa.

COllae of photos from the movie six degrees of Santa - mother nd daughter at Christmas tree; Santa and woman; man in front of a sparkle tree; secret Santa gift box

From there, we move through confusions, developing friendships, Christmas cooking, respectful and caring friendships between Harper and her ex, a wrapping competition, and social media marketing. We also hear of such happy stories where the six degrees of Santa reaches many parts of the world. And Harper struggles between keeping Six Degrees pure and simple, and sharing it more widely.

The credits do refer to some incorrect names! Look out for Harper and Dani – or their alternative names, Steph and Shani!

Would I recommend watching Six Degrees of Santa? It’s a sweet little movie that involves a book about an elf, the magic of Christmas, Christmas trees, Santa in a wrapping presents competition, and a lovely mother, daughter and granddaughter family. So, yes it is worth watching as a feel good movie.

Six degrees of Santa~ Christmas movie review

A Baxter family Christmas – Christmas book review

A Baxter family Christmas An image of a book cover of A Baxter Family Christmas, showing a house covered in snow - labelled as Love Santa Christmas book review

by Karen Kinsgbury
Simon & Schuster, London, 2017

Age group: late teens – adult
Format: 256 page softcover

The different twist of this Christmas book caught my attention – I thought it would be interesting and perhaps thought provoking to see how the Baxter family copes with family patriarch John inviting a woman who received his daughter’s heart to the family Christmas Eve gathering.

The story

A close knit family are preparing for a huge family Christmas, but are confronted with a guest who brings old memories and pains to light. Add in a girl racked with guilt over her sister’s accident, and there is a drama of family and personal relationships to be explored.

My review of A Baxter family Christmas

Interestingly, this is actually the 24th book about the Baxter family! The book starts with a few pages filling you on the background of various family members, including lists of children and their ages (I found this list very handy a number of times!) This is done so you can read this book as it is without having touched any of the previous books. It helps to have that information in mind before reading the book as the author didn’t have to distract with explanations within the story. If, however, you have read some Baxter stories before and don’t like spoilers, I strongly suggest you continue reading the books in order before reading this book as I suspect there are some shockers.

I liked that the introduction to the book gives a very clear summary of the main characters- I referred back to it a few times for relationships and ages! The Baxter family is quite a clan, with John, his children and then their children all having a part in the story. I found myself drawn into their family as I read this book. And I wanted to know more about the heart donor – the sister/mother/daughter killed in a car accident some time before this book is set.

There were a couple of details that seemed unrealistic and detracted form the story – for instance, an hour long drive seemed to happen in about 20 minutes during a snow storm!Decorated Christmas tree beside a Santa chair, ready for a family Christmas photo and celebration!

Kingsbury is obviously a Christian and enjoys her faith. Her main characters show their religious beliefs through frequent mentions of prayers, God’s plan, miracles, loving Jesus, and wanting others to experience the love and peace they find in their faith. I am not used to such open religion references in novels, especially with talk of wanting a sign of faith fro
m God during a first date! I know some people will appreciate that feature of this book, while others will roll their eyes and lose interest. I will just say that their faith is clearly there but doesn’t feel preachy to me as the reader so don’t give up on the book just for this factor.

Would I recommend A Baxter family Christmas? Not a simple answer for this one… If you dislike religious books and prefer adventurous books, then this is not a book for you! However, if you like a warm story about people who care (for each other and the world) enjoying Christmas, then yes I do recommend this book. It is nicely written, has a satisfying ending and leaves you feeling good.

A Baxter family Christmas - Christmas book review

The Ride, a Christmas Eve parable ~ Christmas movie review

Title for the movie The Ride, a Christmas Eve Parable, above a taxi collecting a man at a train station in the darkThe ride ~ a Christmas parable

Movie length: 30 minutes
Directed by Dallas Jenkins
Premiered: 2015

The plot

A bored taxi driver is given an extra run on Christmas Eve and becomes concerned about his passenger.

My Christmas movie review

There is a simplicity to this movie. The cast has literally five people, of which only two are central to the plot. Very little of the movie is outside of the taxi. It is refreshing to not switch scenes so frequently and to have no extravagant homes or effects.

The taxi driver (Kirk B.R. Woller) is totally disengaged with his first passenger (a very annoying man!) but then tries to make conversation with his next passenger (Brad Heller). This change was a bit of a jerk to my thinking, although obviously necessary to continue the plot.

Collage of photos from a movie - The Ride, a Christmas parable

While I don’t know Chicago so had no idea there was a river or bridge at the requested intersection, the taxi driver became suspicious of the passenger much quicker than I did – he could have given terse answers because he was tired, had a bad day, been an introvert, or just didn’t like nosy taxi drivers! However, once he did get suspicious that his passenger was intending suicide, the driver worked hard to prolong the trip and engage the man.

I could understand the clunky way the driver prolongs the drive. He was not generally a chatty or personable person so he found it challenging to engage this man in his taxi. Again, it would have been annoying and unbelievable if he had been able to do this smoothly. I think this is why the movie works – it is simple and real.

So why it is sub-titled a Christmas Eve parable? I took it as there would be a moral or maybe a story that somehow parallelled another, well known story (like the tortoise and the hare or the boy who cried wolf). It was a moral of helping others and the love of parents superseding mistakes, and I guess it could be a version of the prodigal son. Yet it didn’t feel like a parable to me – which is not a bad thing in a movie!

Is it a Christmas movie? Not really. It was set on Christmas Eve while the taxi driver’s wife and daughters were at a church service. A few things they drove past were covered in Christmas lights. Otherwise, it was not really about Christmas (but no less so than Die Hard!)

I came across this movie in the movie section of a streaming channel and took it at face value. There was clearly a Christian element to the driver’s actions but I didn’t feel it was a religious movie. However, I discovered it is from Christiaan Movies – it mentions church and grace, but otherwise leaves the action to tell the message without preaching religion.

Would I recommend watching this Christmas movie? As a cheerful Christmas story with Santa and tinsel, this certainly fails! But it is more thought provoking and gives a meaningful story that is enjoyable. So, yes I recommend this for adults.

The Ride, a Christmas Eve parable ~ Christmas movie review

Christmas eggs delight! ~ recipe

Today’s Christmas eggs recipe comes from Jane Payne of Christmas is my Business. It looks very Christmassy, is easy to make, healthy, and great for ‘bring a plate’ events. You could even leave some of these Christmas eggs out for Santa’s snack on Christmas Eve!

Jane’s Christmas devilled eggs

I love entertaining and playing the hostess. Any excuse for a morning tea, I say!
I like to make things easy for myself and cook/prepare/freeze ahead as much as possible.  Simple but delicious is my watchword.
Those who know me also know I LOVE Christmas…
So these are Christmas devilled eggs. So easy and your guests will absolutely love them.
Plus, even people who say they can’t cook can make these tasty morsels.

Wearing Christmas outfits to celebrate

Living In Australia, I know it can be hot and humid around our Christmas time.

For me, Christmas is a celebration. A time to come together with family and celebrate one of the most important moments on the calendar. So I like my Christmas outfits to reflect on that.

It’s only when you spend your first Christmas away from home or you no longer have a loved one around you to share the special day. That’s when you realise how differently each family does things.

Happy children in Christmas outfits, dressed as Santa's helper and a Christmas fairy

Such joy as these children celebrate Christmas

Wearing Christmas outfits

You rarely wear a Xmas outfit so why not embrace the one time of year when it’s ok to be that extra special without judgement!

I think that costumes are not just for the young, but the young at heart and making kids laugh each morning of December is a great way to start their day!

Christmas is murder – Christmas book review

Christmas is murder

by Val McDermid
Front cover of Christmas is Murder by Val McDermidSphere, London, 2020

Age group: late teens – adult
Format: 256 page softcover

Whilst browsing a 5 storey bookshop in London (yes, genuinely 5 stories – it was fantastic!), I spotted this collection of short stories by an author I like. And I’m glad I grabbed it (despite having to lug it around in our travels!)

The story

There is no single plot, given it is a “chilling short story collection”, but there is a definite common thread of murder in the dozen stories by Val McDermid.

I have read a few of McDermid’s books in the past, and this collection was a chance to see her skills beyond a crime series.

My review of Christmas is murder

Lets start out by saying I prefer novels over short stories as a rule – I like the additional depth of story and that it lasts longer. Yet I really liked this collection and, for the most part, I think each story was complete – a couple of the stories could be extended into longer versions, but they all work.

I was pleased to see how many different ways Christmas was incorporated into the stories – the murder of Santa (spoiler alert – he is ok by the end), Christmas as one celebration in a series, hearing of a crime on Christmas Day, and more. However, the last half of the book has nothing to do with Christmas which surprised me.

Images showing the 5 storey bookshop, Waterstones, in London

Waterstones, the 5 storey book shop in London

Most of the stories are stand alone, but there is one with Tony Hill and Carol Jordan (from McDermid’s Wire in the Blood series) and one with Sherlock Holmes and Watson, plus Mrs Hudson.

This is most definitely an adult book – the murders and adult themes included are not child friendly. Having said that, it is not a particularly gory or graphic book.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I really enjoyed Christmas is murder, and am very happy to recommend it to others. Not for children though 😉

Christmas is murder - Christmas book review

Making Christmas presents last all day!

Photo of a baby boy in a Santa hat opening a Christmas presentHere’s an idea for spreading out the fun on Christmas Day by making the presents last all day!

Our family has always had a rule of one present at a time. This way we all see what each other gets and the reactions to the gifts we give, plus it makes it last longer than two minutes!

After all the anticipation of the day, why not make present opening (and the joy) go even longer?

When opening presents in the morning, keep at least one present each aside. These presents can then be opened at the end of the day when you’re back home or the visitors have gone.

If you have a small family gathering at home, then hand out presents 3 or 4 times during the day instead of all at once in the morning. It will build appreciation of each gift as well as make the day more exciting.

Making Christmas presents last all day!Making Christmas presents last all day!

More Christmas elf antics!

December is speeding along so we have another 5 days of Christmas elf antics to share 🙂

Christmas elves are up to more antics…

Here is another week’s worth of antics from Tinkles and Ginger in the lead up to Christmas. Hopefully they can inspire your elves to have fun, too, or give you and your family some smiles!

Collage of Christmas elf photos - having a picnic, lying with smiley face biscuits, icing biscuits, and playing cricket

An elf picnic

In the morning, we found Ginger and her elf friend sitting in the front yard for a picnic. With lots of fruit, cup cakes, and drinks available, they were eating a pie and a sausage roll. By the time the kids got home from school, both elves were enjoying an icy pole.

Time for a Christmas elf picnic! COllage of photos showing two elves on a red and white cloth with lots of food

Time for icy poles at a Christmas elf picnic! Collage of photos showing two elves on a red and white cloth holding red and white icy poles

Smiley biscuits – or elves?

Smile! We now have a plate of smiley gingerbread biscuits – well, mostly smiling anyway – and an elf or two hiding amongst the biscuits with their own smiley faces!

More Christmas elf antics - two elves wearing yellow face masks hiding amongst yellow biscuits decorated with faces


Christmas elf antics include a zipline!

Tinkles managed to tie a zipline from the top of the Christmas tree to a window catch to create herself a zipline today!


Floating in the Gup X

With the warmer weather, Tinkles must have got a bit hot – that or she heard the Octoalert and responded – as we found her in the Octonauts’ Gup X floating in our (green tiled) pool!


A sleigh photo shoot

Ginger was having a sleigh bell ride while Tinkles was taking photos of her.


Just chillin’

I think the elves have picked up some teenage vibes and took on a favoured teenage activity – lying back with lollies and a mobile phone!


Biscuit decorating

With a tea towel spread out to catch any mess, Tinkles was doing a great job of decorating some biscuits in Christmas colours. Ginger was there, too, but I suspect she wasn’t really helping a while heap! In fact, I’d go as far as to say Ginger spent more time nibbling at a biscuit than helping!!

Collage of Christmas elf antic photos with elves using an icing bag to decorate biscuit sin red and green

Playing cricket

No more elf sized games, Tinkles found a real cricket ball and decided to have a game with Ginger. Luckily she didn’t try using a full sized cricket bat though! The camping knife was an interesting batting choice.

Christmas elves playing cricket with a real cricket ball and a camping knife!


What have your elves been up to? Maybe the above antics will inspire your elves to have some fun, too 🙂

Love Santa letters ~ final orders for 2022

Love Santa letter orders are about to close so get in fast if you want to delight the children in your life this Christmas!

Love Santa orders for 2022 close at midnight on Wednesday 14 December – that’s tomorrow night!

Every letter is still being read and edited individually, then enveloped by hand and mailed via Australia Post. Letters are being processed in regular batches and mailed straight away for orders this week.

Collage of 4 photos - an array of folded Love Santa letters; a computer screen where letters are being edited; a hand posting red envelopes into an Australia Post box; hands sorting letters and Christmas stickers into red envelopes

Hopefully, Australia Post can then deliver the letters quickly – they’ve been doing a great job this year so far!

Ordering letters is easy, although we ask lots of questions to make each letter truly unique and special, so get your letters ordered now!

Any questions? Add a comment below or contact us directly.

Love Santa letters ~ final orders for 2022

Dirty Santa gift game

Playing dirty Santa is like fighting over presents! Photo of a man and woman tugging on a Christmas giftHave you heard of the dirty Santa gift game before? It is a family-friendly present exchange game. I only heard of it recently, but then discovered I have played this myself, just under other names.

Once, we played and everyone kept grabbing the gift my father wanted! It wasn’t so much we wanted it (let’s face it, it was a $3 item from Kmart!), but it became a game watching Dad sweat it out each time he regained it!


Alternative gift exchanges to dirty Santa gift game

The game is known by various names, and some have slightly different rules.
  • Dirty Santa – where the presents have to be second hand
  • White Elephant
  • Kris Kringle (although I use that term for something else, not a game)
  • Christmas Thief
  • Sock Santa – all the presents are in a pair of Christmas (or normal) socks
  • Rock-paper gift game – when it’s your turn, if you want to steal a gift you have to beat the other person in rock-paper-scissors first!
  • kings & queens Christmas gift exchange – instead of a number, everyone holds a normal playing card. Someone calls out the cards in random order and that person selects or steals a present.

There are also lots of of similar games, like the dice gift exchange, musical gifts and pass the parcel present exchange games, but that’s a post for another day! Laughing family beside a Cirstmas tree with a pile of beautifully wrapped presents

Playing Dirty Santa

  1. Ask everyone to bring a gift that would suit anybody at the event.
  2. You can set a theme (eg summer, Christmas, outdoors, funny, blue) and it is usual to set a price. The price you set will depend on the group and whether it is replacing more personalised gifts, but under $10, under $20 and $15-$20 are common limits for these games. To make it ‘dirty’, every gift has to be used – either something you have at home or something you grab from an op shop or trash ‘n’ treasure market. This rule is not always in place.
  3. When everyone is ready, make a pile of presents in the centre of the room or playing area, with everyone sitting around the pile.
  4. Everybody who brings a gift is given a number from 1 to however many people are playing.
  5. Person number 1 choses any present they like from the pile, and opens it.
  6. Person 2 picks any present from the pile OR takes the present from person 1. They cannot open a present then steal one!
  7. Person 3 picks any present from the pile OR takes the present from person 1 or 2. They also cannot open a present then steal one!
  8. And so on, until everyone has had their turn. Each person in the turn gets more choices. The last person obviously gets their choice of all the presents!

  If your present is taken by someone else, you get to pick another present off the pile before someone else gets a turn. Sometimes, people play than person 1 gets the final choice from all the presents just to keep it interesting!

Getting your Santa number

There are lots of ways to get your number for playing dirty Santa. I’ve suggested a few below, but you may have another idea – and we’d love you to share it in the comments below!

  1. put the numbers in a Santa hat and everyone pulls out a number. Or write numbers onto a wrapped chocolate Santa or similar and everyone choses one from the bowl.
  2. play a game and the winner gets the highest number, second gets the second highest number, and so on. You could play some Christmassy or minute-to-win-it games, a who-dunnit game, rock-paper-scissors, a board game (Christmas Monopoly is a good choice!), an outdoor game like Finska, or any other game you like! You could even run a  Christmas trivia quiz!
  3. do an elimination activity, with people getting the numbers in order as they are eliminated. Try ‘Santa says’, longest to balance on one leg, build the tallest tower of cherries, name the most Christmas carols, or balance some mince pies on your forehead for the longest!
  4. list everyone in order of age – eldest to get number 1 and so on
  5. put everyone in birthdate order – if you have a birthday on 1 of January, you get number 1, if your birthday is on 28 September, you get 28, etc. For two people on the same date, the lowest month number gets a lower number. it depends on the group as to how well this will work, but it can be funny to try!
  6. hand out numbers randomly as people arrive
  7. place numbers around the room or house and let everyone find them!


Have fun! And if you play this Christmas, use the comments below to let us know how it goes or share some photos.

Dirty Santa gift game
Love Santa - www.lovesanta.com.au


Order Cut Off Dates

Please note that Love Santa letters need to be ordered before December 18 to be delivered before Christmas!

Order now to be sure of delivery before Christmas. Keep an eye on our blog for final ordering days as we get close to Christmas Eve.


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