What Reason Do You Tell Your Kids Why Santa Didn't Get Them What They Wanted?

Updated on November 18, 2011
S.H. asks from Kailua, HI
26 answers

Just anticipating here... for after the gifts are opened... and your kids didn't get what they wanted from
"Santa"... especially the bigger ticket items... (that you know you can't buy for them... or is not practical for your home/yard)?

What explanation... do you give your kids... as to WHY they didn't get what they hoped for or wrote to Santa, for?

My kids say "But Santa has a workshop and he can make anything! Even if its expensive! He's magic! And his Elves can build anything!"
(No... we have never told our kids that Santa can do anything. This is their own imagination/belief in Santa.... and their dreaming...)


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answers from Austin on

I always explained that Santa gives gifts to children all over the world and so he does not always have enough room or time to make EVERY toy we ask for.. Also sometimes he picks out exactly what he would like for her to have.. It is specially made just for her.

Also we do not want to sound greedy.. So we think of things we really want or would like, but that are not too expensive..

Never had a problem with it, she just knew Santa was on a budget just like the rest of us.

I never saw or read any story that had ever said Santa gives you everything you wish for..

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I used to tell them up front that Santa can not bring that, so think of something else to ask for. It really has never been an issue.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I never had to explain this, my daughter never handed over a shopping list and is the most appreciative kid on the planet. She is 18 now and has NEVER made a list and I don't recall the last time she asked for anything for her birthday or Christmas...makes it tough for us!!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

Wish lists are WISH lists. The things we wish for and don't get, we might just need to work for. So if there's something you REALLY want, that Santa doesn't bring, do you want it enough to figure out how to work for it?

(This is one of my favorite 'circular arguments'. If not, then Santa probably knew you didn't want it that badly, and if SO then Santa knows that you're big enough and clever enough and patient enough now to work for it.)

Yes. I'm evil.

On the other hand, my son saved up $500 in 3 years for a laptop (from ages 5-8)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

oh for pete's sake @ all the "we don't do santa" moms. then why are you answering a question about santa? stay up on your pedestal next time...sheesh. everybody's gotta jump in when they think they're going to get to show how superior they are. yeah i've done it too. but it's still annoying.

i think that in our household growing up, we all knew that santa had about the same budget as mom lol. we didn't ask for huge extravagant gifts, because we were never that type of family. i think there were one or two times that similar discussions came up, and there were answers like, "i bet santa didn't have room for that on his sleigh," or "santa knew we didn't have room for that," or, "santa knew it wouldn't be fair to give you X, when little sister had asked for Y, so he got you something that would be fair." kids, of course, CAN be spoiled ungrateful brats (some more than others, i'm sure you know your kids better than any of us), but mostly they are pretty sweet little creatures. surely they won't spend too much time whining when they see all the fabulous presents they DID get.

and yes i have been talking to my son about gratitude lately. it seems we are going through a "rough patch" (growth spurt? reaction to stress that my husband and i are going through?) and his behavior is suffering...he's only 5 so he can't really help it all the time...so he gets down on himself and decides that santa will never bring him anything because he's being so naughty lately...so that turns into, "I DON'T WANT ANY PRESENTS! I HATE PRESENTS!" he just had a birthday, so that is a great opportunity to talk about being grateful for what you are given. these discussions are priceless, imo.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Here's the thing...
It's okay to have a wish list.
It's okay to say, "If I could have anything in the world...."
But, wish lists are just that. And when it comes to material possessions, wishes don't always come true.

I was able to teach my kids about empathy. It's fun to believe that Santa has a workshop and can make anything, but let them watch Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. The elves are banging with hammers and making dolls and toy trucks.
The elves aren't making iPods or cell phones or video games or trampolines.
My kids, even though it's been hard as a single mom, have always done fairly well with the things they need and some of the surprises that they were hoping for here or there. But, I always taught my children to think of ALL the kids who want things. All around the world. Some kids ask Santa for a new coat because it's really getting cold or new boots or for a turkey for dinner. Some kids ask for the car to get fixed so mom doesn't have to ride the bus to work. Some kids only ask for a tree with some lights on it. Some kids just want their family to be together.
Kids who don't have much ask for so little, and there are so many of them that Santa is pretty busy trying to help them out first. If we have everything we need and we're happy, it's a good thing for Santa to give someone else what they want. We can be happy with what we get because we have so much already.
The other thing I always did with my kids was take their coats and shoes they had outgrown to the homeless shelter. My kids outgrew things before they wore them out so some little kids got some really good stuff and we choose a child from the Angel Tree.
I raised my kids to believe the season is more about giving from the heart as opposed to receiving and it's not about fancy or expensive stuff.
We celebrate Hanukkah as well.
Hanerot Halalu.
Tonight you get socks. Tomorrow, you get underpants. And all the latkes you can stand.

It's not about things.

Just my opinion.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

We give a few gifts from "Santa" and the rest from us (and other relatives). I tell them that Santa has to take care of so many gifts that he doesn't do things that are large or expensive. I also tell them that they can wish for whatever they want, but Santa and I are on the same page with what I will approve and nothing gets into the house unless it's "mom and dad approved" so don't set your heart on something that I would never allow you to have.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

How about "Santa is not a mailorder catalog"!

I don't know, but when we were little it was always pretty clear that our lists were mere suggestions, NOT an order form. We would get some of the things we asked for and maybe some that we didn't ask for.
When money was tight we'd only get one present some years and sometimes it was clothing! For some reason "Santa" always exactly knew what we needed even if it wasn't on our list - part of the magic of Christmas.

We also would have gotten into serious trouble for not being grateful and asking why we were not given the "bigger and better" present that we asked for...

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I make sure to approve the Santa list first....ensuring everyone is (going to be) happy on the big day! And in our house Santa only brings each child only 1 gift.

~Sometimes it does take some creative thinking and distraction but I don't allow anything to be requested in the Santa letter that I know can't be delivered! *My go-to denial response for most big ticket items is age...'Sorry kid, I think that your too young for an Xbox, Cell phone, Kindle' or whatever other expensive thing they are asking for!

Good Luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

Two things I've told my daughters:

I tell them that they can pick out a whole bunch of items and Santa will try his best to bring at least one of the items. (I make sure that some of the items are within our capabilities) I never let them ask Santa for one specific item.

Then I tell them, that Santa will not bring presents that mom & dad don't approve of....because my oldest has asked for things like a pet dog before.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We've made santa the candy and little toys guy. That we avoid that particular discussion.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We don't believe in the whole Santa thing, but what if you just told them that Santa makes and brings things that HE KNOWS the kids need or want. Not everything on your list will be able to be brought but most of the things you will love. That is how I would explain it.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Santa buys the toys you did'nt even know you wanted!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

OK, maybe my Mean Mommy streak is showing through, but I'd probably hand them a pen and paper and tell them they can write Santa to ask HIM about his choices; while pointing out that kids who don't appreciate what they DID get aren't likely to get much in the future!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

That is exactly why my kids know that there is no Santa. :)

ADANSMAMA - I usually agree with you about a lot of things, but am wondering why you felt the need to attack me? I told my kids Santa isn't real for that very reason that the mom is asking about! There was sadness that the big guy didn't get them what they wanted or they were asking for things that were NEVER going to be bought. I wanted them to know that their dad and I (my husband) get these things for them. She asked what explanation we give them. My explanation is "there is no santa". Wasn't up on my high horse...just answering the question.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

"Santa can't possibly get every child in the world ALL of the things that they've asked for"

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

My kids always make a huge list, but they know that Santa can't bring them everything that they want. Santa has a whole world of children to get/make gifts for. He tries to get a few things off your list, maybe a couple of things that weren't on your list, but he thinks you might like and that's it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

"Oh no! I bet the gift you got was so big Santa didn't have enough room in his sleigh. Let's send this one back and I bet he'll send the other one" to which my kid said "Noooooooooo".

And then all was merry and bright.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We always remind out kids that Santa won't go against a parent's wishes. So if Mommy and Daddy don't think it's safe or we don't think we have room or we just aren't comfortable with the toy, Santa knows not to bring it. He also only brings a toy he knows you will really love (There is actually an Arthur Christmas Special where D.W. doesn't get the doll she wanted and she realizes that Santa only brings what she will really love to play with). Plus we email Santa and we keep requests down to three items, so they really have to think about their three items...Mommy and Daddy do a bit of guiding in this department.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

"He must have thought there were other kids in more need this year that he had to save some extra money for them, maybe next year he will be able to bless us with the more expensive item " Or I have said " He must have known we did not have room for that........"

Has worked for years but I never started out telling my kids that Santa can do anything and everything. It is a BIG world out there and so many people to bless, that even one workshop can not provide every need for everyone's first choice.

I usually get the down size of what they want. IF they wanted a BARBIE CASTLE that is HUGE and $120 + I would get a smaller castle...it still works for what they asked for, but it was smaller so we could adjust for having room for it. ..................... I just adjust like that here and there.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

Santa and Mom and Dad ALWAYS have to agree. Santa never overrides what Mom and Dad think....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

I have always gotten the list- and when I get the list I tell them " you know you wont get everything on here so put a mark by the things you want most and I will talk to Santa about it." They usually dont go crazy I get the list from the oldest now just so I know what to buy that he will actually use or wear instead wasting time and money on stuff that will just sit around in his room

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

My mom never let us believe in santa because she thought that we would feel like we were bad kids if we didn't get what we wanted. That didn't stop me from asking for a trip to Walt Disney World every year. :) But I never felt bad or anything, and was always grateful for what we did get.

Now that I have a daughter of my own we will be doing Santa. My husband and my mom got into the discussion about it. He had a wonderful explanation that my mom said, "Wow, I never thought about it that way." I was so impressed, but now I don't remember what he said...and neither does he! LOL.

I would go with, Santa is SO busy, he can't make everything everyone wanted. Be happy that you have presents and a loving family to share Christmas with....some kids don't have that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It has only once been an issue, I told my oldest to ask Santa gor what he wanted and did not say Santa gets to choose, well he thought everything was going to be under the tree. So when he opened his firetruck he was sorely disappointed to not see the ambulance. Since he was still so little we had the Easter Bunny redeem Santa.
Now I tell them Santa gets to choose and Santa knows what Daddy and I will and will not allow in the house. Plus I say "Santa cant bring that, he has a budget you know".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

We have always had our kids make a LIST of what they want from Santa and we have ALWAYS told them its up to Santa to decide what on the list he wants to give them. That way, there is a huge range in price and item and we have never had to explain why they didn't get their #1 item. My kids are older now too, 12 and 9, and the 12 yo knows the "secret" about who santa is. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Good morning. :)
I will say that we DO downplay Santa in our house just because I'm not sure how to handle all that stuff either. He DOES come and the boys like him, write him letters or draw him pictures, that kind of thing, but we don't stress the magic and the toys (even though it's certainly there) because I wouldn't know what to do in your situation, or the part where the children say "Ok, so really---he's not real?". Mine are still very young and I'm still feeling this all out, lol. I'm guessing that your 9 year old already knows (or should figure it out pretty soon) that Santa isn't really bringing presents, so that would be correct itself. For your younger child....yeah, I'd just stress that you can make WISH lists, but Santa will bring what he thinks is right. He wants to give us gifts but we are sharing with the world, here. And yeah, the suggestion someone gave about "Santa knows we don't have room for that" or Riley's suggestion "Santa knows you are big enough, smart enough, and patient enough to work, save, and get that on your own"--very cool!

For the mom that jumped on the TWO actually very NON-snotty comments about not doing Santa at their house, your comment is actually the ONLY abrasive comment on this question so far. (Besides possibly, mine now). They weren't acting remotely "superior" as you said, not at all. They commented, and gave an answer anyway. The only thing I found "annoying" so far this morning is seeing other people get jumped for making simple, short comments on a post.

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