writing

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 activityClick To Tweet

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?

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.Click To Tweet

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 listClick To Tweet

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?Click To Tweet

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?

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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