Providing positive Santa experiences for kids

Running a Christmas event involving a group of kids this year? If so, here’s an alternative way to do things to make it  truly positive and memorable for the kids – and the adults.

Whether it’s a school group, scouting group, sporting club or another type of children’s group, you can make Santa’s presence even more special – and this could solve some budget problems, too.

Sitting on Santa’s lap

Santa and boy giving gifts to girl

Santa & a boy giving gifts to a girl

Traditionally, each child will come and sit on Santa’s lap, tell him what they want for Christmas, possibly be given a gift and hop down so the next child has a turn. For bigger groups, each child may just be given something by Santa.

This year, why to try something a little different? It may take a bit longer but the rewards are much stronger (and maybe that means fewer other activities or games to organise!)

Let’s look at three children at this special Christmas event, Ashlea, Lachlan and Piper.

Santa sits beside the Christmas tree and invites Ashlea to sit on his lap. Lachlan follows her and stands beside Santa.

Lachlan then says something nice about Ashlea (see some examples below) before Santa gives her a small gift.

Lachlan now sits on Santa’s lap and Piper comes up to stand beside Santa and says something nice about Lachlan. Followed by Ashlea standing to say something nice about Piper when it is her turn.

You can call children randomly or try to put friends near each other, but the point is that each child hears positive things about themselves which is a valuable gift.

It is also good for the child speaking to think of and acknowledge positives about their friend/classmate/fellow scout/etc.

Saying nice things

Obviously, each child has different strengths and what each child sees in another will vary, too.

And we want that variety to come though as Santa loves all children with all their differences.

But here are some examples to get you thinking and to demonstrate to the children:

  • I love your big smile
  • You were nice to me when I fell down
  • You are very smart when the teacher asks you questions
  • I like your jokes and funny stories
  • you are a good friend
  • I like how you are kind to animals
  • you’re the best skipper in our school

Depending on the group of kids, you may want to explain what will happen before hand so they know some basic rules and are prepared to stand in front of everyone. Or you may start with some adults having a turn to set the mood and show how it works.

Or maybe you have a better suggestion on how to introduce this to the group?

Any suggestions on ways to make this a more lasting event, too?

Would this work for adults? I think everyone deserves to hear some genuine nice things about themselves. You could even do this for each member of your family – and have everyone say something nice about each person in turn.

For a bigger group, a tree of thanks may be a better option, or split kids into groups to sit on Santa’s lap – or have a few helpers there to hear the good things instead of Santa having all the kids on his lap.


* Photo courtesy of Big Stock Photos

10 Responses to Providing positive Santa experiences for kids

  • pocs says:

    I am a true believer Of what I call “catching the nice”. When my girls were smaller and would say or do something that was nice or made someone else feel good, I would tell them they caught the nice. It’s especially easier to teach children positive behavior around the holidays and with luck they will carry on into the rest of the year.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      “Catching the nice” is a good way to catch (pardon the pun) the moment and describe it, pocs – a youth worker was telling me today how important it cna be for teens to hear labels for what they do so they can externalise it and thus udnerstand it better, so a label like ‘catch the nice’ is a good tool, I think.

      I always try to acknowledge good deeds by my own and other kids I interact with, too.

  • Scoobysteaks says:

    I love the tree of thanks idea you linked too, the kids love making decorations and it is such a wonderful idea to let them hang up once a day! Our saying nice things tactic is during Christmas dinner, everybody look to the person on your left and say something nice.

  • pocs says:

    I ran across a article the other day that I think fits here. Although it doesn’t have to be just a holiday thing, it works well and lessons can be used throughout the year in teaching children the importance of being polite and nice to one another. A kindergarten teacher in a rough area of town ( I don’t remember where) was ready to throw her hands up. For years she had watched as children were rude, disrespectful and just mean to one another. She came up with a reward idea to aid in the problem. A jar of prizes the kids would love extra coloring time, first in line, a free pass and some small toys, healthy snacks and you get the idea. She placed all the prizes on a piece of paper and placed them in a coloful jar. Every Monday they started the week with a lesson on either respect, being kind, be polite and being unselfish. If any of they children were caught using the lesson of the week, they could pick a prize form the jar. The children could not tell they had done something, they had to be caught doing it. At the end of the month whichever child received the most prizes got to pick a special snack for the class.

    I thought this was a wonderful idea, and hats off to this teacher for not giving in. She appears to be instilling great values in these children.

  • gerkmeister says:

    What a great idea for the kids. I think you should explain it ahead of time for the kids, so they understand what’s going on. Kids need to learn to compliment their fellow man, it’ll make their lives a lot easier. Now I don’t know if this would work for adults, but more adults probably need to do this.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Learning to give real compliments is a good skill – and so is learning to accept them.
      I agree, gerkmeister that it’s not easy to introduce it for most adults – anyody have ideas on how? 🙂

  • dorothy says:

    I think this is a really good practice that would be something to do all year round. Sometimes for some it is harder to say something nice to someone then it is to say something bad, this sad but true in many cases. I love this idea and i love the label “catch the nice”.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Thanks for your comment, Dorothy.

      I agree – it can be much harder and more unusual to say nice things about people so nto only would doing soemthing like this let us hear nice things, it could teach us how to say nice things more often.

  • Lisa Jean Hawkins says:

    I like this idea. I think giving and receiving compliments is great. It can build a child who has a low self-esteem up. This could have a huge impact on adults to. I did something similar to this many years ago with a group of teens. We each wrote compliments for each teen in the room, we didn’t sign our names to the compliments. After each compliment was written and placed in an envelope each person read out loud their compliments. I seen teens smile and encourage one another. I think I will try this at my family Christmas Party this year.

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