How Old Is Old Enough to Give Away Santa?

Updated on September 25, 2011
L.C. asks from Boulder, CO
21 answers

I've been thinking about this as the holidays are looming...This has been a debate between me and my husband about when we should tell our daughter that Santa isn't real. I have a hard time feeling OK with myself about blatantly lying to her but I do want to encourage wonder and and excitement that Christmas brings. On the other hand, I feel like DH lays it on way too thick. Like writing her a letter FROM the Easter Bunny or something.

Also, I'm not as careful and he worries that I will give it away like when I tell someone "Yeah DH and his dad made this awesome play table" when "really" Santa actually brought it.

On the one hand, I want to make the holidays fun and not be a stick in the mud, but on the other I'd really rather her know that Santa is in her imagination and it's more of a game than he is an actual "real" person. Maybe I feel this way b/c Santa was given away to me pretty early on but I still had tons of fun at Christmas anyway.

So should I just go on pretending and feeling really fake or is there some subtle ways that I can steer her into the idea that Santa is really a fun imaginary game? Or am I being too mean?

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So What Happened?

I like the idea of teaching her about St. Nicolas and the religious backgrounds of Christmas. She gets some of that from her maternal grandparents but I'm not sure how much. I was raised Catholic and even though I chose to stop practicing in high school, I always liked the stories. That might be a good median.

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answers from Dover on

My honest opinion of this is never. I have not & will not ever tell my kids that. They believe what they choose to believe for as long as they choose. I will not take one of the most magical pieces of childhood away from them.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Let the magic continue until she is in her early teens, unless she seems depressed about her friends telling her other wise before hand. I was lucky to be about 14 when I discovered other wise. It is a wonderful feeling to have, at least it was for me.

Good luck

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Spokane on

Oh, I'd say 82.
Seriously, I would never "give away" Santa. He will always fill their stocking and bring them a gift on Christmas morning. Our Christmas does not revolve around Santa, but he will always be a part of our celebration.
My 7 y/o asked me a 2 years ago if there was a Santa and I asked him what he thought and he said "there must be b/c he always eats my cookies and drinks the milk I leave for him" :) can't argue with that logic!

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I still like Santa and I'm 60.

I told my kids that if they quit beliving in Santa, then Santa would quit coming to visit them.

Look up the newspaper article, "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus". It is the most requested and reprinted newspaper article in newspaper history.

Good luck to you and yours.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Those words never passed my lips, because you see, I believe. I believe
now and always will.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't know... Santa still brings me presents at my parents' house each year and I'm 32!

Let her be a child and let her figure it out on her own. Most kids do. I figured it out when I was about 8 because Santa's handwriting looked an awful lot like my mom's! I didn't say a word to them for another couple of years, but never felt like they were lying to me.

When she does figure it out and talks with you with about it... he's not an imaginary game. Do some research on St. Nicholas and you will find a beautiful story of giving and compassion. Share that with her and explain that at Christmas time we honor St. Nicholas by showing the same spirit of giving and compassion that he showed many years ago.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

what?!?!?!? you mean there really isn't a Santa Claus?!?!?!??!

Then who do i get my presents from each year?!?!??! I leave cookies, carrots and milk for Santa and they are gone when I wake up in the AM!!! :)

I don't know - our boys are 9 and's not like they think he is real - but they LIKE THE IDEA behind him...

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Lancaster on

Our kids know there is no Easter Bunny (or Santa or Tooth Fairy, etc). We do NOT let them go around telling other kids this (we explained to them that just because we chose not to do these things doesn't mean that other Moms and Dads haven't chosen to do them, and it isn't fair to tell other kids there isn't one even know we know that).

Christmas and Easter are deeply religious holidays for us. For us, no gifts are given on Christmas day. Instead, December 6th (St. Nicholas Day), they get gifts. On the evening of December 5th, kids get put into bed and we tell them that, to honor the man Nicholas who was very generous and gave gifts to children, Mommy and Daddy are going to go put some gifts under the tree. They get tucked in with a story, a Christmas CD playing in their rooms, and the promise that in the morning, there will be a few presents.

But we stress that Santa WAS a real person (St. Nicholas), and that this is a LEGEND that has grown up over the years. We make sure we talk about how wonderful the idea of a person selflessly giving gifts is. And we play "Santa" to less fortunate children in our lives.

Never let the fun "stop" just because she knows there is no "real" Santa, or Easter Bunny. The key is to KEEP having the fun. Instead of Dad writing a letter from the Easter Bunny, have him write a letter to her from HIM. It will mean more in the years to come!

And still let them set out the tray of milk and cookies, in honor of the legend. It's a fun ritual!

See this question (and my answer) for how we handle the no Easter Bunny issue:

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Santa came for me every year until I moved out of my parents' house (I must have always been good)!

I had a friend in 4th grade who did not believe in Santa ever. She always knew because her parents never told her that Santa was real. But I always believed, even when my cousins and I had a discussion about our parents maybe being Santa because they found the box that their new fish tank came in in their outside trash can. I am not sure how old your daughter is, but if she is in elementary school, there is no harm in believing. Things will come up where her belief will slowly diminish and that's OK. If she is one of those kids who will be so upset about the "lying" I would explain to her that it is something that people do to keep the spirit of Christmas alive, and now that she knows, it is her new responsibility to help others believe in Christmas. Oh, and just because Santa isn't an actual man who comes down your chimney, it doesn't mean that Santa isn't "real" and if you do decide to have a sit down and tell your daughter, I would not use those words. Then it does seem like you a liar, and not the mom who was trying to bring magic into her life. I would let her know that you and your husband keep the idea of Santa alive by giving secret gifts to her. Still tells her the truth, but doesn't seem so harsh. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My 7 year old has been asking about Santa and the tooth fairy. We just tell him that they are magic beings, and if you don't believe in them they don't exist. I'm pretty sure he knows that we are the tooth fairy, but he isn't going to spoil it for his little brother...and still wants some $ for the teeth he's busy losing:) The boys get presents from us, and each other, and family. So it's not like they are afraid of losing all of their presents by not believing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

When my d was in third, a mean girl insisted on outing Santa and everyone else. My child could have gone at least another year believing in the magic of childhood. I told her because she asked me point blank to tell her the truth. Otherwise, I would let her believe.
I struggled with not wanting to lie, but I chose the magic. Later I realized we lied at other times. I can't tell a 4 year old that aunt and uncle are dead because someone broke in and murdered them. We will wait till she is much older to share that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

How old is your daughter? I think they figure it out soon enough anyway. My son is 6 and in 1st grade and I figure this may be my last year. Soon some loudmouth kid will be at school telling the truth.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Our kids know the truth about santa claus, but still belive in him if that makes sense. We have told them who the real st. nick was and what he did for people, and they know that mommy and daddy fill their stockings, but still do the little Santa Claus cookies and milk and reindeer food, etc. It is about the fun and spirit of Christmas, not whether Santa is real or not. If you feel like you are lying to her then look up St. Nicholas and learn who he was and what he did and tell her about him. He was alive in the 4th century... approximately 300's a.d.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I have the same struggle. I don't see why we would want to purposely lie to our kids for any reason, but my husband thinks it would be mean to disclose that Santa isn't real. I think the whole thing is messed up, really.
I think that if kids were able to see the 'spirit' of St Nicholas as the selfless benefactor that he was, it might be different, but do they really view Santa as anything other than someone they get lots of presents from? The whole thing has become so self-centered, when it started as something good. Why not teach kids the TRUTH, that Christmas is about the birth of Christ - the ultimate example of giving.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I'm pretty sure my older two (16 and 13) both know thud secret but I don't ever remember having a discussion about whether or not Santa was real. I think my 10yo is on the verge of figuring things out and my 4yo is a total believer. I have no problem with them believing and it would make me sad if someone spilled the beans to my youngest. Believing in Santa adds some magic and anticipation to the holiday season.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

I'm having this internal debate too. Not with my husband, because I don't think he would care one way or the other. I just don't want my daughter to be crushed when she is told by a friend. And/or she is the type of child that will fight for what she knows as true until she is blue in the face....I don't want that to happen either. So thanks for asking this question, I've been wondering what I am going to do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

My kids figured it out on their own when they noticed that both Mommy and Santa wrapped the presents in the same paper. I tried to blow it off by saying that Santa ran out of paper and had to use mine but the jig was up. I only told my oldest and let the other 3 figure it out on their own. When I was in kindergarten the older kids on the bus told everybody and I thought that was a heartless thing to do.

if you are going to teach about St Nicolas, look up St Nicolas of Myra, patron Saint of children, single women and policemen.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Mine are older, they all "know", but they still revel in the Christmas spirit.
While my husband was deployed my daughter played Santa for me and the oldest has played Santa for the younger ones, from Japan .
We, as a family, have been Santa for underprivileged families.

We believe.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

my best friend and I figured it out at 8. We were so excited and nervous to ask our parents. It was exciting to be a part of the Santa Magic for our younger sisters and to be in the "know" with adults.

You know your child best. If she is the type that likes figuring it out, let her, if she super enjoys magic and wonder. let her enjoy it longer, but if you feel like you think she would want to know at the age,, share it with her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Let her figure it out herself!!!

Why take the fun away from her? Most kids are really proud of themselves when they figure it out. They start pestering you to tell them the truth. THAT's when they are ready.

Don't just tell. And for me, they all figured it out between 4th & 5th grade Christmases.


Let her figure it out herself!!!

Why take the fun away from her? Most kids are really proud of themselves when they figure it out. They start pestering you to tell them the truth. THAT's when they are ready.

Don't just tell. And for me, they all figured it out between 4th & 5th grade Christmases.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I, too, was uncomfortable with outright lies to my kids, but as "make-believe," we still do Santa even though the proverbial cat has long been out of the bag. My husband and I agreed not to tell the whole truth about Santa until we were asked, but then not to cover for the guy in the red suit any longer. I do suggest that you and your hubby need to be on the same page about this one. Talk to him.

You won't need to tell her there is no Santa. If she's in public school, she'll hear about it soon enough. My daughter was in second grade. My son was a mere kindergartener. I waited until my kids asked, and then answered with, "Of course there's no such person really, but it is fun to pretend. Besides, don't you like getting Santa presents? Then it would be smartest to play along." So Santa still comes to my house, but with a wink and a nod.

And I made sure my kids knew that telling classmates about Santa being mom and dad was strictly forbidden. You don't want to wreck another family's fun.

I've taught my kids about the historic St. Nicholas, and we've also had fun learning about Santa-like traditions from other parts of the world. My rather mercenary daughter even figured out how to milk her education for a Dutch St. Nick present in her shoe AND a Three Kings Day gift all in one holiday season.

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