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Why I’m Telling My Kids That Santa Isn’t Real

The following was syndicated from Quora for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at

How can a family ‘tone down’ on Christmas decorations and holiday gifts dramatically with minimal upset to children?

Warning: Christmas heresy ahead!

The most honest, efficient way to tone down the Christmas gift extravaganza is to debunk Santa Claus. Yep, destroy the myth of a super friendly fat guy who provides unlimited free gifts for all kids who are reasonably well-behaved during the month of December.

Tell the kids it’s been a fun game, but they’re old enough to know that it was their parents pretending to be Santa. Now that they know the truth, it’s time for the family to focus on other, more meaningful aspects of the holiday.


Kids may be disappointed to hear that the sleigh full of presents was mythical, but even a four year-old will understand that, unlike Santa, parents cannot provide unlimited gifts. To remedy their understandable disappointment, parents can do what’s best for their familial situation.

  • Keep favorite traditions like installing lights, putting up a tree, decorating, playing Christmas music.
  • Start new traditions: volunteer at a food bank or hospital, join a caroling group, film a family video, or take a meaningful trip.
  • Make gifts for family and friends: candles, Chex Mix, cookies and candy, sachets, terrariums, wooden toys, wreaths, Christmas ornaments, etc.
  • If you’re worried kids will be gift-deprived, give each child one “big” gift from mom and dad.

Speaking as a Claus-free mom, our Christmas sans Santa is an enjoyable, stress-free, family affair.

Marti LaChance is a whose work has been published by Forbes, Slate, and The Independent. You can read more Quora posts here: