Dealing with Disappointment When "Santa" Doesn't Produce on Christmas Morning

Updated on November 21, 2011
S.A. asks from Chicago, IL
20 answers

Hi Mamas, so Christmas is around the corner and "Santa" is getting worried. My daughter is asking for/expecting some pretty pricey gifts this year. There is no way we will be able to get any of them for her. I'm already trying to plant a seed in her mind that she may not get everything she asks for, but she always has in the past so that's the problem. She even said, "well he's always gotten me exactly what I've wanted before". It was a huge mistake for us to always get her what she wanted and I wish we hadn't, but her requests were much more affordable when she was younger! I also expected that she would no longer believe in Santa at this age (9 yrs). She will have presents, but they won't be the high-ticket items that she wants. I want to say "Santa's feeling the recession too" but she goes to school with a lot of kids from wealthy families and they'll certainly be getting the hot, expensive stuff. Part of me just wants to spill the beans, but this will probably (hopefully) be her last year of believing and I don't want to spoil it right before the holiday. Plus, I know she'd blab to her younger siblings and I don't want to spoil the fun for them either. What would be a good thing to tell her in case she is disappointed? (Other than quit being such a spoiled brat) lol!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the great advice! We actually took our kids to see Santa tonight at the mall. I talked to my 9 yr old and 6 yr old ahead of time and said that they can write whatever they want on the list, but that Santa can't always get them everything they want and that he might have something else in mind for them. I had an opportunity to talk to them about the needy yesterday when we were headed into Target. My daughter was trying to tell me she needed a new hat and gloves when she just got new stuff last year that's still perfectly good. I very firmly told her that she absolutely does not need anything new, and that plenty of kids have to ask for winter coats, hats, gloves etc...for Christmas instead of toys because otherwise they wouldn't have any. I could tell that really got her thinking. I'm going to continue to remind her about the less fortunate between now and Christmas. We do the giving tree at our Church every year too so I'll use that as another opportunity to make her see how fortunate she really is.

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answers from Atlanta on

I would really spin the "recession" angle with the fact that Santa is having to help some people with basics just so they can eat and have clothes. Then take her to some charity volunteer opportunities. Adopt a child to give presents to. At age 9 it will do her good not to get everything she wants. Really start talking about gratitude and how grateful we should be for simple things. Get her one of the pricey things she wants and some little stuff.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

It's time to let her know that even though she may have gotten what she wanted before, that doesn't mean she always will. That's the kind of world it is. Since you want to perpetuate Santa, you can let her know frankly that neither Santa nor you appreciate that sort of attitude.

Maybe it's time she should start being Santa for some kids whose parents can't put anything in their stockings. Does she have some good toys on her shelf that she could give to them?

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

She may be testing you to see if you will admit Santa is not real.

IS she in 3rd or 4th grade.. Most 4th graders know or are figuring out Santa is not real. They will test by requesting things that they know their parents will not be able to give them to watch them squirm.

As I have said before. I have never read any book that said, Santa always gives you everything you ask for .

Santa has to give children all over the World gifts and so as we get older, he starts to not be able to give us the expensive things we sometimes want or everything we want. He needs to give the young children toys first.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

How about, "Santa brings what HE thinks you need, not just what you simply WANT." Then talk about how there are a lot of kids right here in America who will not have a Christmas tree, who will not have presents, who don't even have a warm jacket to wear. Kids need help in getting out of their own little insulated, rich world. When kids are lucky enough to have always had everything they need, AND everything they simply want, they have no way of knowing there are others who have nothing. It's our job to teach them.

My kids are very clear on the fact that complaining that they didn't get everything they want will result in the loss of the things they DID get, by me taking it all, still in its boxes, to the family shelter. And then they can know what it's like to be a child who gets nothing for Christmas, and some other child who has nothing will be ecstatic to receive the things my kids were complaining about.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Hello! This is tough. We have never told our kids that Santa will bring them EVERYTHING on their list. In fact, they have never received everything on their list.

Tell her that Santa that Santa does NOT always give everything. She should be happy to receive ANYTHING at all - there are many kids who might not even get ONE present let alone a tree.

Guess you need to start showing your daughter charity, volunteerism and giving back to the community...if she believes that she will get it all - well, you are right - she's a spoiled brat...sorry.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

This is why our children exchange gifts with each other (they get x amount to spend from us), and we do the stockings. This holiday isn't about gifts, it's about giving, maybe it's time you help her focus on what she is going to GIVE rather than what she wants to GET.

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answers from Seattle on

Have Santa write her a letter in advance. Let him acknowledge that she is a very good girl. Also have him mention that Santa brings what Santa thinks is in the best interests of the child. Let Santa mention that her lists in previous years have been reasonable, and thus have been fulfilled. Let Santa tell her gently that her list this year is excessive and not within the spirit of Christmas.

Follow up with lots of activities about the spirit of Christmas and generosity. Make sure this is an extra-busy holiday season with lots of activities. Make the present opening a fairly low-key and minimal part of your holiday this year. If possible, schedule something else that will happen immediately after the present opening, so she'll have something else to look forward to and minimal time to sulk. Ideally, this is something that requires leaving the house, like a party at someone else's house or sledding or caroling or something. Perhaps you could volunteer at a holiday dinner for the homeless for a dose of perspective. Just don't let the last activity of Christmas be a grumpy child under a Christmas tree.

I'm of the opinion that "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." Santa is the spirit of generosity and is very real. Children believe in him as a literal person. Adults believe in him as a symbol, like Lady Liberty. No, there isn't an actual lady striding around holding her torch up high to promote liberty around the world. But liberty is certainly real. A piece of Lady Liberty lives in each of us. And a piece of Santa lives in each of us too. Start planting the seeds now for her transition from "Santa is literal" to "Santa is a symbol."

I was the oldest kid and had a lot of fun growing up enough to be Santa. The expression on my mother's face when she opened her stocking and found an unexpected item was priceless. She asked "where did this come from?" I said innocently, "Santa brought it." My older kids have also enjoyed becoming Santa for their younger siblings, so this is now a multigenerational tradition.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I see a lot of responses that perpetuate the spoiled, materialistic part of Christmas. Thank God I was taught that it didnt matter how much money we had, life isnt about material things. IF you put material things first on Dec 25th do not pretend you are a Christian. Christmas is about being with family and celebrating God's love. Do you really think material things are the key to happiness? I think at age 9 she has a good idea that you and Daddy are Santa. It is time for her to learn the real spirit of Christmas, and that Santa exists in all of us who are are charitable during the Christmas season! Make this a memorable, special year for her by making this the year she stops asking things of Santa and starts BEING Santa. If you are Christian, make this year special by going to Church events in your area that celebrate Christmas. Leave the younger kids with Dad or babysitter and take her to volunteer at a soup kitchen, a Head Start program and an animal shelter.
Ask her to help pick out gifts for her younger siblings and when you go shopping say sadly "money is tight this year we have to shop on a budget" She'll get that that applies to her as well. Let her grow up, share the spirit of generosity and charity and love and faith with her and this could be a GREAT Christmas for her! encourage her to pay attention to the needs in your community and come up with ANONYMOUS ways to give.

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answers from Honolulu on

I asked something similar, just recently. The link above is for that same subject.

We have never told our kids that Santa will bring everything and anything they ask for. But especially my youngest child... he just thinks Santa is magic and is like Superman and can do anything!
My eldest child, 9, she still believes in Santa.

We never taught them that Christmas/Santa is an entitlement thing.
Nor that they have to keep up with other friends or compare themselves to what other kids, get.
They know that.
We also do charitable things, during Christmas time... and they do things to 'earn' things for Christmas.
Still, they think Santa is a super-wonder-miracle thing. Kids... have imaginations, and hopes.

Per questions about if there is a Santa: My daughter's 1st grade Teacher would say "Well he comes to my house!"

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

What kind of things is she asking for? I was able to help some mom's on the site find some really hard to find items and some really good deals.

First off, scan craigslist and Ebay. Chances are there are some items or things close to what she is asking for that others are trying to part with.

I always tell mine that you can ask Santa for anything, but Santa, like other's will bring you what he wants. If you say what he can afford, the response will be 'mom, Santa doesn't pay for gifts. duh!'.

My kids were being spoiled. I was in the store trying to fit them for winter gear, and they were wanting toys for that night. Put it on your lists. No. Now! No, now were are leaving, without toys and without winter coats. You're going to be cold and sorry when the cold comes and your shivering. Our next stop was supposed to be to ToysRUs for Christmas lists and buying stuff for Toys 4 Tots. As we were leaving the store we saw a homeless man asking for money. What does his sign say? 'Will work for food'. He's homeless. He's not sure the next time he'll eat or where he'll sleep. I bet if I take HIM into the store he'd be happy buying a winter coat and sweater and snow boots. How much did I spend on food and snacks today? He could eat for 2 days on that probably. Both of the kids started crying. My son asked if we could still go to ToysRUs to get the things for Toys 4 Tots. They were sorry. ... So we went to Toys R Us, made their lists, got and dropped off somethings for Toys 4 Tots. No toys were purchased for my kids! A few days ago my oldest says. Mom I've changed my mind. I'm only going to ask Santa for a Razor Electric Motor Bike, and ask that he give the rest of the things on my list to Toys 4 Tots. That's really nice, C. but what if like Mom, Santa doesn't think that a Razor Motorbike is something you need. (I don't think they are safe, plus cost a ton!) What if you don't get it but something else? .... well, that would be okay too.

Its all about perspective.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Santa gifts in our house always fit into stockings. Santa doesn't bring big gifts - not enough room on the sleigh. Loved it when beanie babies were popular. Our santa gifts are about $10-15

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answers from Los Angeles on

Tell them Santa was hit by the recession too

Start working on her now telling her not to get her hopes up because
Santa just can't do it this year as in years past. He is having a hard time
with the recession.

Tell her to re-look @ her list and scale it back due to this.

Have her donate toys to Salvation Army, to buy a few new toys to donate
to needy kids, donate food for a food drive, atke her to convalescent
home to visit w/the elderly & lastly take her to a hospital to visit the very
ill children as it will give her some perspective. I did both these things
with a friend and it was enlightening.

Have her donate food or time to a soup kitchen.

I once sponsored a family in need buying toys for her kids, giving her a
small decorated Chritmas Tree, homemade cookies. It was the best
thing ever.

Don't ruin Santa for her yet! She's too young. It ruins the magic of Christmas and she'll never get it back. Plus I would hate for her to ruin it for her younger sibling.

Work on the "spoiled brat" part of it now. It can be done. I was spoiled as a kid.....we hit hard times and I am a good, loving, helpful, caring person if I do say so myself. :) I try to help people in need (& animals)
any chance I get! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

At 9 it's time for her to learn that Santa doesn't always bring what's on her list, even if he has in the past. Make sure you let her know that some children are hoping to have a home for Christmas, so they don't have to sleep in a car or a shelter. Tell her that her list is a "wish" list, but that Santa isn't obligated to bring anything on it, he brings what he knows a child needs. (As a young child of 5 I remember receiving socks from my grandmother, pretty ones with ruffles on the top, but still socks. I wasn't happy but got lots of use out of them. Now as a grandma I love to give socks sometimes, and actually have a granddaughter who LOVES them, the wilder the better.) Tell her that she should be thankful and grateful for whatever Santa brings her.

Are there any food drives going on at her school or in the community? There was one at my nephew's school this past week, my sister and I went through everything and had two paper shopping bags full of boxes and canned goods. It ended on Wednesday but I called the office and they said they could still accept things on Thursday, so he had to make a special trip to the office. He's 10 so was a bit embarrassed, but the secretary praised and thanked him and told him that what he took in will definitely help a lot, so when he came out he was happy.

He also put together a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, he has for a few years now. (In the past I've known people who didn't want to participate because they thought all the boxes go out of the country. They don't, some stay here in the U.S.) He has lots of fun picking things out for a boy his age, knowing this is probably all the child will receive for Christmas. Next year we plan to take him and two of my grandchildren to our local distribution center to work for the day so they can see the bigger picture.

If you go to church inquire there if they are planning anything to assist in the community. They may be collecting clothing and toys for needy children. Scan your local newspaper or watch the news for opportunities for you and her to help in some way, show her that Christmas is about giving, not getting.

And if she's disappointed with what she receives for Christmas remind her that Santa brings what children need, and ask her if she would like to donate her gifts.

Merry Christmas!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Time to remind her what the real meaning of Christmas is, and practice it with your family. Also time for a "value of a dollar" conversation & lesson. At 9, I think she's old enough. Disappointment is a part of life, help her accept it with grace. It's a lesson she's going to have to learn at some point. It's not about who's mom can spend the most & I think a lot of parents stuck in that trap.

This is why I have tried to always have modest holidays. If you go all out right out of the gate, you set your child up for ridiculous expectations, which is definitely not what the holiday is all about. DD has asked for 1 or 2 $20 toys & I couldn't be more pleased. I've never made a huge deal of asking her what she wants or pointing things out, or forcing a bunch of fancy toys on her that "I" thought she'd like.

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answers from Chicago on

Mom's and Dad's around the world never want to disappoint a child who celebrate this holiday, but this as well as other holidays have gotten out of hand.There is not a need to deliver on everything she asks for, nor should you. Presents under the tree that are age appropriate should be appreciated by her. IF she shows any disappointment in her gifts, in my house warrants removal of gifts until respect and appreciation for the generosity of a gift is restored. Also any child who knows and is even thinking of spilling the beans to younger siblings is warned that they had the opportunity to have dreams for a long time and it would be equal to saying if you don't believe you don't receive and having her understand that Christmas morning would be very bare to her while watching siblings open gifts as some will want to be the spoiler since their illusion is dashed. It is not the bad Mom who uses every part of life as a lesson in how to behave, carry oneself and treat others. Good luck and may you have many blessings this holiday season.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't know what her items are or if this is feasible, but can you consider checking for at least one or two of them on Ebay or Craigslist? Maybe something very gently used in like new condition? I have done this with my much younger kids, ie I got them a train table one Christmas with all the accessories, that was $70 used, would've been $150 new, and it was in like new condition. Another time a beautiful doll house, which was $30 used, would've been $75 new, etc.
Not sure if this is an option for you but it's been really great for us. And it's eco-friendly too!

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answers from Portland on

I'll be interested to see the other responses.

One woman I nannied for had a great 'pat phrase' about Santa: "Santa gives children what *he* wants to give them. So you can make a list, but Santa might already have something picked out he'd like to give you (which might be different.)."

For what it's worth, I am going to share your post with my husband. He's often hell-bent on making Santa 'come through' for our son. I'm not in agreement with that at all. Kiddo's only four now, but I'm pretty sure he's asking for a (real) electric guitar this year, and I'm pretty sure Santa found him an apatosaurus on eBay.

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answers from Detroit on

I have worked to avoid having my daughter make a Christmas list or writing to Santa just for this reason. This is the year I feel I need to spend less for the first time (the governor decided the teachers deserve less money). I suspect the that now she is in school, she will start hearing the comparisons. Hmm.

Maybe it is time to get her a piggy bank and an allowance for chores around the house, and she can start saving for the big ticket items she wants to have. And for certain items, tell her you are willing to pay for half of the item.

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answers from Chicago on

It may be time to have a sit-down and say (very authoritatively so it doesn't become a debate), "So many people have so little right now that we've decided to make this year about giving instead about receiving. Instead of asking Santa for gifts for ourselves, we're going to ask Santa for gifts for others". Work together to find a charity to support, do volunteer work, gather up gently used items in your house to donate. Find a creative way to make Christmas morning about giving - wrap up those gently used items that you're donating, put them under the tree, and open them on Christmas morning to see what everyone will be giving away. Or have everyone learn to knit or make some other useable gift and wrap those up. Or ask her to earn money by doing chores, then she can use the money to buy something to donate. Help her find a cause that she'll actually want to contribute to. Take her to see Santa and have her ask for stuff for the charity. Make it ALL about giving.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I know just how you feel. My hubby didn't make it to the Salvation Army to sign the kids up this year for the Angel program. We have almost zero money for Christmas. I have been telling my grand daughter that Santa isn't going to be able to bring much this year and she will just break down crying and say why. I don't know what to do. She wants a DSI lite with games and then she wants other stuff too. But the DSI has been her number one request for 2 years now. I just don't know how we are going to even spend half that on both of them together.

I feel like a heel. Her mom just got out of rehab in October and her dad will send her a gift card for $100. But it is always a Walmart gift card and Game Stop is the one with the DSI's for $79 and $89 used. They have a whole table of games too, most $2-$4.

If we get her one the boy will want one too so I don't know, it is a rock and a hard place here. Maybe I'll go pawn my wedding rings and my Amethys rings so we can have some extra money to spend. I am really really really pissed at hubby. I reminded him every day to go but he couldn't find his SSDI letter stating his income so he just didn't even try to find a copy of it, WIC has it on file, several other places have it on file like his doc's office, it's a low income clinic where office visits are only $20. So he could have done it, he just chose not to. I guess I could have pinned him down earlier in the week but I thought there would be no way he would just not go. I thought he went.

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