Santa Etiquette

I had a light-bulb moment while caught up in the flurry of ferrying my shockingly ungrateful festively delighted offspring to various Christmas Experiences and Extravaganzas.   What was  I doing?  What were WE all doing?  How has Christmas become this event that requires booking tickets months in advance, scouring reviews of the quality of different Santa beards and the likelihood of there being mulled wine for over-wrought parents?

What did we all do before someone decorated a log cabin in sparkly lights and hauled us around on the back of a tinsel bedecked tractor?  Can we say that we experienced Christmas properly?  Did we realise how deprived we were as children; oblivious in our shopping centre queues as we happily snaked along while looking at Christmas scenes as we waited to see Santa?  Where were the ice-rinks, the cookie decorating stations, the reindeer food making stands? Where was Mrs Claus when we needed her? Is there someone we can speak to about compensation for the lack of extravaganza?

By the time the Elf on the Shelf retires back to the North Pole, my children will have seen Santa on no less than FOUR separate occasions.  Four.  And with each Santa visit comes a gift or selection box.  To be honest,  I’m having a hard time keeping up my parental duty of saving them from all the sugar and helping out.  There is a Santa set up in both our workplaces, and Santa also visits the creche.  These are wonderful and totally adequate to tick the “See Santa” box, and next year I will resist the pressure temptation to take it any further and drag our Christmas Jumper adorned selves to a more formal “experience”.  Paying close to €60 (or more in some places) for a family of four is taking advantage of Festive Fever infected parents  (don’t even get me started on the fact that adults and babies have to have tickets purchased in most cases too).

Santa has been the number one topic of conversation for parents of enthralled children for weeks now.   And what has surprised me most is the different approaches the man in the red suit takes in each family.  It’s getting hard to keep up with all the permutations and combinations.  This goes further than the “Does Santa wrap presents in your house?” debate?  (for the record, in my house – no)

While I usually live by the “each to their own” and “wouldn’t life be very boring if we were all the same” approach to life, I have to say I struggle with the “Santa brings a small present, they get the big gifts from us” brigade.   The magical window is so narrow and they are only small and at that wonderful stage for such a short period of their lives; just let Santa have the glory.  Your time will come, your role will be noted.  It’s all about how Santa will bring something Mammy and Daddy would never in a million years buy their child, not about getting the credit.

My daughter noticed that we don’t get her a present at Christmas and asked why, I just explained that she gets plenty from everyone else and that when she is old enough to not have Santa coming to her, I will give her a Christmas present then.  She said she will never want Santa to stop coming, so I said that was fine, I won’t ever have to get her a gift so.  I don’t think she feels any less loved because I don’t personally hand over a present on Christmas morning.  It doesn’t take from her enjoyment one bit.

There is also the “Santa sends us the bill” approach.  I can see the usefulness of this when kids get a bit older and are making very expensive requests, it will no doubt serve its purpose in helping to make it more likely to meet expectations.  So parents of those asking for iPhone 7, laptops, X-Boxes and unicorns – I salute you.

I am told that as children get older and wiser, Christmas is just never the same.   I will do my very best to keep the  magic alive and wring out every last drop of wonder.

Only 5 more sleeps till Santa!!!


Elf on the Shelf – Lazy magical tips

Festive spirit is starting to weave its magic and infect everyone and everything in its path.  Shock at the fact that is is nearly December shows on faces as they mentally calculate how many shopping days left.  Black Friday saw hordes of unnecessary, panic purchases made that at least didn’t weigh as heavily on bank balances as another day.

December is making her way around the corner, I can hear her plodding along cheerily, humming away. And she sounds to me like an elf.  I think perhaps December 1st is almost as revered in my house as the 25th. The elf makes her grand annual entrance that morning and will proceed to enthral the children and haunt the adults until Santa himself spirits her away with him.

The elf of the shelf seems like such a magical tradition to welcome.  Santa lets loose an army of scout elves to take up residence in homes all over the world and report back to North Pole HQ on the high-jinx of the children they spy on.  It serves as a cautionary measure to encourage good behaviour but more so as a fun game of “find the elf” each morning.

So as I enter my third year of welcoming the little sprite into our home, I have a few helpful suggestions to other elf-hosts.

  1. If you don’t already have an elf, don’t get one.  Simple as that.  You can thank me later.
  2. If you do already have one, my biggest piece of advice is to make sure the little bugger is stashed safely somewhere you will clearly remember when November 30th rolls around.  Otherwise there will be a panicked phase where you realise you have no idea where to find it, with D-Day quickly approaching.  Putting it with the Christmas decorations in the attic is a sound choice; making sure it is at the very top of the storage box is even better.
  3. Have a lazy elf.  Nobody wants an over-achiever showing off.  If the kids become used to elaborate set ups every morning, you will only have to keep working harder.  Stick him on a different shelf each day.  Does exactly what it says on the tin.
  4. Set a reminder in your phone to make sure you move the pest each night before you go to bed.  Having to drag yourself from a warm bed when you’re half asleep to move a stuffed toy is far from fun.
  5. In my house the elf is under strict instructions to remain downstairs.  This has a two fold benefit – it means I don’t run the risk of the kids waking as I try to perch the damn thing in their bedrooms, and also that they have no expectation of it being found in their room.
  6. While I do regret every starting the elf on the shelf tradition, it’s not all hassle.  I find it’s hard enough to get the kids out of bed on a December morning ordinarily, but the “where will the elf be today?” question has them jumping out without the usual drama.
  7. There are loads of inventive Pinterest type articles which will give ideas of what to do with your elf.  Every year I marvel at them and the time and talent some parents have to put into this.  Don’t dwell too long on these posts, find yourself a “Simple elf on the shelf ideas” post and bookmark it.  If you find one of those calendars which tells you where to move him/her each night to take away any head-scratching, bingo!