Finding out Santa doesn't actually exist is a heartbreaking day in a child's life. I remember looking at my mother with betrayal when I discovered the truth, utterly crushed that the magic I had put my faith in wasn't real. The longer you believe, the worse the pain will be, but as a parent, you want your child to experience as many truly magical Christmas mornings as possible. Any honest adult will admit there's just something missing from the holiday after their kid finds out Santa isn't real, which is why they make sure there are things Santa leaves behind to prove he came down the chimney (or in some cases, through the front door).
The key to keeping your kids from getting suspicious about Santa is paying attention to the details. Anyone who tells you kids don't notice things have clearly never met a real child; they can tell if you substitute their favorite blanket with a lookalike while you wash theirs, so they'll definitely be on the lookout for evidence Santa really came to give them gifts, especially as they grow older. There will be some kid (or teacher) trying to tell everyone at school that Santa isn't real, and your little one will believe them if you don't go big with your commitment to the North Pole bit. To really convince your children about Santa, it's best to start early — send letters to Santa, don't forget to move the Elf on the Shelf, and you can even get your child a personalized video from Santa thanks to Portable North Pole.
But once you've laid that groundwork leading up to December 24, you have to follow through with clues your children can find on Christmas Day of St. Nick's visit. The presents signed from the jolly old man himself will obviously do some of the work for you, but a few small touches can really make all the difference. And if for some reason your kids are doubting St. Nick's existence, teach them my mom's favorite motto: if you don't believe, you don't receive.
1. Footprints In The Fireplace
Any Santa-loving kid is going to think about the man in the red suit walking through their house, so seeing a track of footprints from the fireplace (or from wherever he entered) to the Christmas tree will thrill them. And Santa's shoes will obviously be dirty from his travels all over the world, so the tracks just make sense, even if they're not coming from the Chimney.
2. Cookie Crumbs
The big guy has a lot of cookies to eat on Christmas, so it would make sense if he doesn't finish the ones you leave out for him. Watch your kids' faces light up when they see Santa's teeth marks in the treats you made together.
3. Sleigh Tracks
If you're lucky enough to have a white Christmas this year, putting sleigh tracks in your lawn or on your roof will definitely prove Kris Kringle stopped by during the wee hours of the night. You can create the illusion by dragging skis or a shovel through the powdery snowfall.
4. His Own Wrapping Paper
Giving Santa his own wrapping paper is a really detailed way of ensuring your kiddos know Santa came to see them. Don't you think it would look a little fishy if mom and Santa happened to pick up the same print from Costco?
5. A Stray Jingle Bell
Everyone knows Santa's sleigh is covered in jingle bells, and spotting one sitting by the fireplace will make it clear that something happened on your roof last night. Don't be surprised if your little one wants to bring it into school for show and tell once winter break is over.
6. Reindeer Food
My sister and I always left out some snacks for the reindeer on Christmas Eve as well as cookies for Santa; they're the ones who are exhausted from all the flying and really need the snack. Put some carrots and celery out for Santa's trusty steeds, and get ready to hear your kids squeal with joy when they see the leftover veggie bits.
7. A Personalized Note
Getting a personal note from Santa telling your kids how happy he was to give them their presents this year will pull all of your efforts together. I would've been more excited about a note like that than the actual presents, TBH.
8. His Signature
When employing tip seven, it's important to remember penmanship can be a dead giveaway. Your kids will def be suspicious if mommy and Santa have the same handwriting, especially if they're a bit older. Swap gift labels and notes to Santa with a friend, and keep the Christmas magic alive for both of your families.
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.