Navigate / search

Rookie Santa Mistakes

I would have thought Santa would know better by now.  I mean, this Christmas was his fifth visit to our house.  We even had Peanut Brittle, our Elf on the Shelf, helping him keep tabs on the kids.  And yet he messed up big time. It’s as if he didn’t have a clue.

Parents of babies and toddlers, listen up. You are currently in the ‘Santa warm-up’ phase. Don’t waste these years.  Figure out your Santa grove now.  Scout out the best spots for hiding gifts.  Decide on whether Santa is going to wrap or not wrap his gifts.  This is your time to iron out all the kinks.  Because when your oldest child reaches age 4, you better be ready to bring your A game.  You might have gotten away with a few slips this year, but I can assure you that there is no room for error when dealing with a 4-year-old.

Our grace period ended this year.  Gone are the days of casually mentioning Santa and hoping your kid doesn’t ask too many questions.  Instead, we spent the month of December answering questions about Santa and his elves and the North Pole.  We thought we had it covered.  You might even say we got a little cocky with how good we were doing.  Little did we know that our biggest weakness awaited us Christmas morning.  Any ground we had made was lost that morning.  We made two critical rookie mistakes.

Rookie Mistake #1: Not taking the wish list seriously. Around Thanksgiving, my son started talking about wanting a light-up Power Ranger sword.  He had seen it in the TV show, not in a toy store. Knowing that Santa could make anything he was under the impression that Santa would have no problem making him a light-up Power Ranger sword.  In order to help curb his expectations, we spent some time together on Amazon looking through Power Ranger swords.  He found one he liked. Whew.  Disaster avoided.  Almost. He also found a Power Ranger Phone toy that he really wanted.  I looked into it a little further and discovered it got poor ratings and was pretty cheap.  So I passed.  Big mistake. Christmas morning he would not shut up about that stupid phone.  Sure he was excited about the sword and each present he opened. But at least 5 times that morning, he said something like “I bet this will be my power ranger phone.” Later, when people asked him what Santa brought him, he replied “He brought be a sword, but he didn’t bring me the Power Ranger Phone.” I can’t believe I let this happen.  Especially since I had fallen victim to this error as a child.  I asked for the Get in Shape Girl exercise kit for probably 10  years in a row.  Finally when my parents realized I wasn’t going to back down, they gave in.  How could I turn around and do the exactly same thing to my child? In summary, no matter how cheap or dumb you think the toy is, you better think long and hard about not getting it.  Beware that there will be consequences.

Rookie Mistake #2: Thinking your child is like the child in the advertisement. Lately, my boys have been obsessed with playing with cardboard boxes.  For months, they’ve been intercepting boxes before I could through them into the recycling bin. So when I saw a cardboard rocket ship on sale for Black Friday, I thought it would be a solution for the cardboard hoarding that was happening in the basement.  My husband found a Disney Cars version that was similar and we decided to give each boy their own.  Both the rocket ship and the truck were designed so that you could color the outside.

The teal duct tape was added approximately 6 hours after they began playing with it.
The teal duct tape was added approximately 6 hours after they began playing with it.

For weeks, I imagined my boys playing nicely in the basement, coloring their truck and rocket ship just like the boys in the advertisement did.  Instead, it’s been four days of climbing through the windows instead of the doors and ripping off the edges of the structures. I’ve added duct tape at the seams to reinforce it.  But I seemed to have forgotten one critical fact about the rocket ship and truck.  They are still just cardboard structures and I have a two-year old and four-year old that destroy anything not made of iron.

The rocket ship and truck are not long for this world. It’s only a matter of weeks (possibly days) that they, too, will join the pizza boxes and soda cans in the recycling bin. I’m still coming to terms with this fact.  I have decided to focus on the fun they are having with it and try to limit disciplining them for messing it up.  They love these structures.  That was the goal.  Thinking that they would last for longer than a month in our house was unrealistic.

On the plus side, my daughter asked Santa for a Princess puzzle and received a Princess puzzle.

My hope for all new parents is that they will experience years of Princess Puzzle simplicity. Most likely, you’ll have a few Power Ranger phone and rocket ship mishaps along the way. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.


Sue Hyer

Susan, you crack me up! However, it is so true about getting them what’s on their list. When my son Tim was 5 (he’s now 23), he asked for a cup for the bathroom. I thought that was just silly, he already had a cup for the bathroom and why on earth would he want such a thing. Sure enough, he was extremely disappointed when Santa did not bring him a cup, just any old cup, he hadn’t asked for anything specific. And to this day, Tim still talks about the cup that Santa never brought! I guess I should have had a conversation with you earlier…


Absolutely let them destroy the boxes!! Their memories will be of how much FUN they had with them…. :) Let them decide when they are done with them.

Cynthia Lopynski

We decided Santa would wrap his gifts in special “Santa paper”… if you decide to do the same, be sure the paper is hidden well :) – that was rather tricky to explain!

karen m.

That cardboard obsession does not end any time soon. Just wait til they get old enough to dumpster dive. Our basement harbors all sorts of fine catches. The biggest prize yet…a sofa box.