letters

Make Santa letters a family tradition

Boy writing letter to SantaWriting letters to Santa is a long standing tradition in many places around the world.

It is a lot of fun and has many benefits for children, but it can also be a family event that is lots of fun.

Writing letters as a family

So how can you make it a family activity?

Basically, you just have to make the time to sit down together and write letters to Santa. But to get you moving, here are a few tips…

  1. make a date and time to do this so it will happen. if you make a date like ‘the first Saturday in December’ or ‘the third Friday in November’ it is easier to become a tradition that will last for years with little effort.
  2. get things set up first – have paper, pencils, textas, crayons and even special things like glitter and stickers. Spread them out on a table, turn on some Christmas or other loved music, and maybe have a yummy snack on hand so the letter writing time can be truly dedicated to being creative.
  3. let everyone ‘write’ their own letter. For very young children, you may write the actual words, but let them draw and write on the letter as well, and make sure they tell you what to write rather than deciding what to write for them.
  4. have a rule that nobody has to share their letter as they write, although encouraging sharing the finished letters can lead to some lovely times together. If someone (usually an older child) wants to keep secrets, maybe they can just read out part of what they have written instead.
  5. let everyone be creative – kids can draw pictures and decorate the letter, anyone can use different coloured pens/pencils for each sentence or even each word, and so on. This is for Santa, not a bank manager or lawyer, so make the letter beautiful!
  6. remember to include something nice for Santa in the letter, it shouldn’t just be a list of gifts you want
  7. have everyone write a letter, not just the kids. Parents can have fun, too, and it may help tip kids towards gifts you want instead of another pair of socks!
Great tips on making writing Santa letters as a family activity

Lessons to be learned

Smiling little girl writing a letter to Santa

Writing to Santa makes children happy! Writing with family is even better.

Writing Santa letters together has a number of advantages, including kids learning some useful lessons such as

  1. how to structure a letter!
  2. why it is nice to write letters and how people enjoy receiving letters. And in modern times, a letter takes more effort than an email or text so receiving a letter is even more valuable so it is a social gift to be able to write letters.
  3. practice writing, spelling and using grammar/punctuation.
  4. thinking about other members of the family – want they may want, what they think is important to tell Santa, and how they use their creativity
  5. using good manners (eg “Santa can I please have…” rather than “I want …”)
  6. Christmas and Santa – it is a great time to chat about what these things are and how your family celebrates them, and to answer any questions your children may have at that time of year.
  7. how to address and envelope and mail it – unless you leave the letters under the tree or in stockings instead of course!
  8. how to relax, have fun and enjoy tradition and magical moments. Remember the kids are given facts and goals all year so it is nice to have some magical and imaginative time, too (as stated by Michael Grose).
  9. having traditions like this help connect the family and set some rhythms that give kids certainty and security over time.

 

Has your family (present or in your childhood) ever written Santa letters together? Are they special memories?

Kinders writing to Santa

After enjoying it so much last year with my son, I offered to help my daughter’s kinder with Santa letter writing this year. The children are four or five and heading towards starting school next year.

An array of letters to Santa, written by kinder children

An array of letters to Santa, written by kinder children

Helping the children write

Working with two or three children at a time, I sat with the kinders to help them. Each child chose a texta (choice of colour is important!) and then copied Santa’s name from where I had written it.

Many of the children went on to write ‘can I please have’, while I wrote it for a few of them. Then they told me what they wanted to ask Santa for and I wrote it down – either for them to copy or directly onto their letter.

Sharing the letters

Image collage of children's hands writting a letter to Santa

Children writing their letters to Santa

Once the entire group had written a letter (I went in during two different sessions), they were photocopied.

The children folded the original letters, placed them in an envelope and together they walked to a letterbox and posted their letters. By this time, they had learned how letters are formatted, practised their writing and seen how to mail a letter – it’s a great learning activity as well as being fun.

The kinder teacher placed the copies into the children’s portfolios which were given to parents as a Christmas gift after their concert.

Requests to Santa

While most of the children quickly rattled off a favourite gift idea or two, a few had trouble which surprised me. I hadn’t expected to have to help any child suggest what they wanted!

Not surprisingly, there were a number of requests for Lego, things from Frozen, cars and games. One girl very sweetly added ‘a gift for my little sister’ to her list.

Santa’s reply

In my usual role as Santa’s Letter Elf, I wrote a reply to the kinders, too.

It was fun to include each child in the letter somehow so they could feel it was truly for them when the teacher read it out to the group.

Cancel letters to Santa – no way!

The Mothers Union in England has apparently called for an end to children writing letters to Santa.stopping a little girl writing a letter to Santa

Let that sink in for a moment – …

A case of bah humbug?

We’ll get to what I think in a moment, but the reason behind their request is to reduce the pressure on parents to buy expensive Christmas presents. And that is not a bad thing, especially with financial concerns around the world.

The Mother’s Union, a Christian charity, has research results indicating about 46% of parents take out a loan or get into financial trouble to ‘please children during the holidays’ (which could mean more than just buying presents but we’ll let slide for now).

Parents take out loans to pay for Christmas?

That staggered me. I can’t imagine taking a loan for presents – the only loan I’ve ever taken was to buy a house!

So reducing pressure on parents is a reasonable motive for cancelling letters to Santa.

What are letters to Santa?

According to the Mothers’ Union, letters to Santa are nothing more than commercialised lists of things children want.

To be fair, very few Santa letters wouldn’t include a version of ‘could you please bring me…’  so they are lists of requests.

But (actually there are a few buts to this!) the key word there is requests – just because a child asks for the $200 latest gadget it doesn’t mean that child has to get it. Or even should get it.

Santa and parents make decisions about what is a reasonable price to pay and what is a suitable gift for that child’s age, abilities and needs. Sometimes, those decisions mean saying no to kids.

Santa is incredibly generous but the Santa I know is wise enough to realise kids don’t always know best and can learn from not getting everything they ask for.

 But letters to Santa offer more than a list writing exercise.

Writing letters to Santa develops writing and communication skills.

With adult direction, letters to Santa are also polite and teach manners and gratitude.

A good letter to Santa will ask how Santa is and tell Santa some news, not just list things the child wants.

It can also be a good time to reflect on the year and let the child think about their behaviour. They may be able to apologise in their letter or share pride in achievements and good deeds.

Santa may be an adult that children can trust and express things to in a letter in a time when many wouldn’t write to many other people.

In other words, letters to Santa can be much more than a commercialised list, and perhaps encouraging the positive aspects would be more effective than banning them.

Letters to Santa can be much more than a commercialised list

But not all kids ask for expensive things.

For ten years I have been helping Santa write letters to Australian children at Christmas time.

For many years I have been involved with children – cousins, children I cared for professionally and then my own children and their friends.

I’ve read a number of letters and heard children’s wishes. You maybe surprised how many affordable things children ask for. Books, pencils, lollies, clothes, cooking tools and CDs are frequently on those lists.

And I’ve seen many children delighted over inexpensive gifts.

Stop letters to Santa?

Instead of stopping children writing to Santa, how about we focus on them writing real letters, not just lists?

How about we focus our children on the spirit of Christmas, not the biggest gifts?

Something like our Dear Santa template and notes for writing a nice letter to Santa can make writing to Santa positive. Wouldn’t it better to hand out such tools to all the kids at school than to make a statement that is unlikely to be followed through anyway?

What are you going to do – will you stop your kids writing to Santa to reduce the commercialism of Christmas and the pressure on families?

Love the craft

I’m really looking forward to the Love Santa letters arriving soon – the craft activities included for the last 2 years have been fantastic and a great way to keep my kids occupied while the big count down goes on FOREVER!

SO very Santa to give something for kids’ happiness as well as answering their letters. Thank you!

Love Santa letters

All letters we’re helping Santa with have been sent now, but it’s not too late to place your order and delight a child before Christmas Day.

If you live in…

Melbourne – order by Monday 22 Dec

Australian capital cities or regional Victoria – order by Saturday 20 December

regional Australia – order by Thursday 18 December

Note that these allow an extra day in case Australia Post is running behind, so you could try a day later and make a wish!

Meaningful letters

Writing letters to Santa is one of the main entertainments for children at Christmas. With over 120,000 letters sent to Santa last year through the Australian post it’s now time to start thinking what to write in this years letter to Santa.

Sometimes kids write amazing things in their Santa letters. Instead of asking for a toy or a play thing they sometimes ask for things from Santa that are more heart felt and meaningful. And sometimes they write something very funny and amusing.

Do you remember anything you asked Santa for in a letter? What about anything amusing or special your children asked Santa for?

Has anybody in your family ever kept copies of Santa letters as a memento?

Kids love Santa letters

An article in The Australian newspaper today reported that despite messages to Santa being available via email, sms, etc, children still prefer to send Santa an old fashioned snailmail letter like we all remember doing.

Apparently, 6 million letters were sent to Santa in 2006 (glad the postal workers have been counting as Santa and th elves were too busy reading to count!) and that is likely to be less than this year’s total.

The Universal Postal Union represents 191 countries and has over 5 million people helping deliver letters and cards to and from Santa each year!

Love Santa letters

If you have ordered a Love Santa letter, watch your (well, the child’s!) letterbox over the next couple of days as all letters have now been mailed and we’re in Australia Post’s hands.

Orders can still be placed in our order form, but the sooner you order the sooner the child will get their letter and the less risk of the letter arriving after Santa does!

Writing to Santa

child's hands writing a letter to Santa

Children work hard at their Santa letters – and it’s a memory worth keeping

We’re a bit behind this year so my kids have just written their letters to Santa. This was something I did every year as a kid and now my kids do it.

It personalises the whole thing and is fun and exciting – I can even justify it as writing practice seeing as the older kids have written letters at school or for homework this year!

Creating memories

I take a copy of their letters – photocopy or scan it – as their messages and spelling can be so creative I don’t want to lose them when we mail the letters to Santa. Their letters go into their scrapbooking albums (when I says their, I mean mine about them!) opposite the letters they receive from Santa to reinforce their memories later on.

I wish my mum had kept copies of the my old letters – I think it would be quite amusing to read them and they will make an interesting piece of history.

** The Love Santa letter template may help your children write to Santa, or read our tips on good letters.

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