Here's How To Turn Getting Ready For Santa Into A Festive Family Tradition

One of the most exciting memories I have from growing up is waking up on Christmas morning. It wasn't just about the presents — OK, well maybe a little — but, really I remember feeling so excited to see that Santa had come and eaten the cookies I had left him. I mean, the big guy actually ate my cookies — that I helped make? It was a total fan-girl moment that I will treasure forever. If you want to create some equally special Christmas memories for your little ones, here are 11 ways to get ready for Santa's visit that will keep the magic of Christmas alive for years to come.

Some of the items on this list have been around for generations while others are more modern — hello, Santa Tracker app. But I think by blending the two together, you can create your own special and magical Christmas experience for your kiddos. I mean, Christmas only comes once and year and our little ones only believe in Santa for so long. You might as well make the best of it, and with these 11 tips, you definitely will. And best of all, if you keep this up every year, your kids will be left with a tradition to pass on to their own children someday.


Leave Cookies For Santa

Leaving some milk and cookies out for Santa is fun for kids and teaches them kindness. Some parents even leave a shot of whiskey or sherry — *insert mom/dad drink of choice* — for the big guy to help him keep warm. Although, I'm not sure if Santa should be drinking while driving that big sleigh around. Sounds like it could be dangerous.


Carrots, Celery Or Apples For Reindeer

If Santa gets some treats, it's only fair that his reindeer do too, right? As a kid, my favorite part was seeing teeth marks on the carrots in the morning, which would make my imagination run wild.


Hang The Stockings

Christmas stockings are one of the best parts of Christmas morning. All the little surprises you get after opening the presents are just the icing on the cake.


Read "'Twas The Night Before Christmas"

This old classic really sets the mood for Christmas with its festive imagery and whimsical details. I loved this one as a kid and it's a tradition to read it every year on Christmas Eve among close friends and family.


Leave A Note For Santa

You can have the kids write a note or draw a picture for Santa to see when he comes to deliver their presents — and maybe even have them leave their report card out for good measure. (Assuming their grades were "nice," of course.)


Special Christmas Pajamas

Some super cute Christmas pajamas are always a must-have when you're getting ready for the big day, like these adorable Snoopy PJs from Pottery Barn Kids. For a full-on Peanuts-themed Christmas Eve, pick up a Snoopy Holiday Tabletop Gift Set, too ($12, Pottery Barn Kids): There's a plate, bowl, and cup, all decorated with merry Snoopy and Woodstock illustrations (perfect for serving Santa's cookies and milk).


Open The Chimney

If you don't have a chimney, maybe you can have the kids unlock the window or door so Santa can easily let himself in, without waking up the whole household.


Put On Your Favorite Christmas Movie

From older classics like It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, to more contemporary films like A Christmas Story and Home Alone, there's something special about snuggling up with the family on Christmas Eve to watch some of your favorites together.


Track Santa

These days there are apps where you can actually track Santa. The most famous one would be the NORAD app. NORAD stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command, who have been tracking Santa since 1955 (a tradition which started with a misprint in a Sears ad, according to NPR). Now in 2018, they have an actual app where you can track Santa and see where he is in the world on Christmas Eve.


Call Santa

Give Santa a call on Christmas Eve! And not just a regular phone call either: You can actually FaceTime Santa with special Santa video call apps. There are even apps that measure whether you're on the naughty or nice list, as if the verbal threats weren't enough — what a time to be alive.


Santa Spy Cam

Get your spy cam ready with your Santa Spy Cam app (available on Google Play and iTunes, according to the company's website) that will show your children video footage of Santa and his elves in your house, keeping the magic alive. Unless, Santa has had one too many shots of whiskey. Maybe it's a better idea to just stick to the milk and cookies.

After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.