How to Manage Holiday Traditions

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words…


*Be sure you weigh in at the end of this post. I must know.

For most of our families, November and December are filled with more family traditions than any other time of the year. Traditions that have been passed on through generations. Traditions that mean so much to us that we make sacrifices of money and sleep, energy and time, to make sure they happen just the right way.

You don’t mess with holiday traditions. In fact, for couples, compromising on holiday traditions brings more contention than intimacy and money. That is a lot of stress. We have to compromise on questions like, Where do we spend Christmas and Thanksgiving? How do we celebrate Christmas Eve? Do we give matching pajamas to everyone in the family? Do we open one gift on Christmas Eve, or save them all for the big day?

Don’t worry, my husband and I learned ALL about compromising on traditions. THE HARD WAY.

to the worst Christmas EVER.
Christmas Eve 6 years ago. Our son was three and a half. We knew that this was the year he would remember what happened at Christmas. It had to be perfect.

It was late and the kids were fast asleep. I sat down to start getting Santa’s gifts ready. I was surrounded by bags when my husband walked into the room.

“Where is the wrapping paper and I will help you”? He said.

“I would love some help, thanks”.

“Okay, so where is the wrapping paper”?

“There is a little down stairs, why”?

“To wrap the gifts.” he said.

“What gifts”. I said, concerned.

“From Santa”. He responded.

I laughed, “What? Santa doesn’t wrap his gifts”. I said.

“Yes, he does”. My husband said.

“OH. NO. HE. DOESN’T”. I said.

“OH. YES. HE. DOES”. My husband said.

And so it continued, for the next FIVE hours, into the wee hours of the morning. We went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, and back and forth over this Christmas tradition.

Let me explain. When Santa came to my house as a child, gifts were not wrapped. They were set out by child and each of us had a special spot in the room. My gifts were on the chair, and my brother’s gifts shared the couch. The small gifts in our stockings were sometimes wrapped, but the main gifts from Santa, THEY WERE NEVER WRAPPED BECAUSE SANTA DOESN’T WRAP GIFTS.

My husband completely disagreed. In his house growing up, Santa wrapped everything.

So silly. That didn’t even make sense to me. Still doesn’t for that matter. Never the less, that was my husband’s tradition and he wanted to see it carried on to our family as badly as I wanted to see my Santa tradition carried on.

He was ruining everything. I had dreamed of the day that our kids would run down the stairs to see their gifts on display.

My husband and I don’t scream and yell at one another when we disagree, and we didn’t that night either, although we got close. Really close. I can tell you there was a lot of crying (by me), and going to bed at 4 am on Christmas Eve does not make for a very enjoyable Christmas Day.

We argued our cases and the more I cried (I mean talked) the more I realized how strongly our beliefs stemmed from our traditions growing up.

We were at a stand still. No one wanted to move. How could we, you don’t challenge Christmas Traditions. In fact, I didn’t even know I cared whether Santa wrapped his gifts or not until my husband challenged my tradition.

If we wrapped Santa’s gifts our kids would miss out on all the great Christmas memories I had growing up. I knew that what ever we choose that night would have to be the tradition forever. We couldn’t switch back and forth. Santa doesn’t change the way he does things. 

That was the worst Christmas I have ever had. I woke up after only two and a half hours sleep, frustrated, hurt and still upset. I faked it all day long.


This is no way to spend the holiday’s. It taught me so much about the power of traditions. And how much they mean to all of us. These traditions and rituals mold our childhood. They are what our memories are made of. 

Traditions also take a lot of work. We are all probably tired, two days before Christmas. We wonder if it is worth it, if we are doing enough, and if our kids really care. But they do. We are making memories together that will never be forgotten. It will make such an impression that they will fight to carry on the traditions when they get married. 

Given that we will all probably have to compromise with someone, someday, over our holiday traditions, here are some quick suggestions on how to get in bed before 4am on Christmas Eve.

What can we do to help ease the frustrations that come with holiday traditions?
Three things…
1. Talk about your expectations for holidays and traditions BEFORE the big day. Discuss what means the most to you AND WHY. Research suggests that we take about 50% of the traditions we did with the family we grew up in (our family of origin), to our new family (the family we create by marriage). But remember, you are not the only one with traditions that you love. Your spouse has his/her favorites (50%) also. Don’t keep a tally, we are not suggesting an exact 50/50 split. Instead, realize that just like you have your memories and traditions, so does your spouse, and they love theirs just like you love yours. So, talk about it in advance. It would have been a lot easier to talk to my husband about all of this in July, instead of on Christmas Eve. (If you have children who are marrying age, be sure you council them to have these conversations with their soon-to-be-spouses.)
2. Create your own family traditions.
Stop focusing on your traditions or mine.
The best thing to do, create some of your own traditions. Unique to your family. Traditions that don’t belong to either of your families. New traditions just for you.
For example… My husband spent a few years in Germany (serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). His time there made a huge impact on him. It only makes sense that we incorporate some German Christmas traditions into our family. My parents don’t do that. His parents don’t do that. They are only our traditions.
3. How to implement new traditions.
The best place to start when you are trying to figure out what traditions would be good for your family, think NEEDS and VALUES. Does your family have a need? Do you need to spend more time together? Do you need to learn to communicate better? Are there values you want your family/kids to learn? Values of hard work, honesty, service. Create family traditions that are based around and help foster, the needs and values of your family.
A challenge:  This year, establish a new family tradition, unique to you and your family.


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  1. Nicole H says

    only stocking presents – but I loved my friends tradition of santa just bringing a little something – the big gifts were from the parents!

  2. Amber says

    How perfectly timely… the husband and I have been debating this topic off and on for years, and this is our defining year as our older girl is a little over 3. My family growing up, Santa did stockings only, nothing wrapped, for kids only. The husband, Santa wrapped some gifts and EVERYTHING that went in the stockings. All I have to say is no wonder his Mom is now burned out on Christmas gifting…. she used to wrap chapstick :0 and Santa brought gifts for everyone in the family.

    In our back and forths the last few years… and especially the last few days… we have decided our family will do stockings (full of unwrapped gifts), and one or two other gifts wrapped in special Santa paper… and I will admit to being fully on board with Santa filling my stocking again, so grown ups are in for the full Santa treatment as well.

    This is our first year doing it this way, so we shall see how it flows. I figure we can always do a minor tweak for next year if we have any kinks…. and if the husband demands everything be wrapped, he gets to do it :)

    • says

      Amber, 3 years old was the year we had to decide how to handle things in our house also. It is a big year. Glad you have reached an agreement, and that you get YOUR stocking filled also. I am all for that too.
      Merry Christmas.

  3. says

    My husband and I were the same way. I grew up with Santa’s gifts being unwrapped and gifts from mom & dad being wrapped. My husband grew up with all gifts wrapped and all gifts FROM SANTA. There were no gifts from his parents! This is our son’s second Christmas and we seem to be keeping with my (!) traditions, but not without A LOT of discussion between us. He likes the idea of getting some credit for some of the presents, so there will be gifts from us under the tree. He’s still not sure about the concept of not wrapping Santa’s presents, but logic won out when we agreed that Santa brings the big gifts and wrapping up things like a play kitchen is just silly. I have to know though, you didn’t say who won out in your house. How do you do things now?

    • says

      Merrsidotes, sounds like you have been able to work things out so far. That’s great. Because you asked, here is how our night ended, and how things have gone since then….

      At 4 am a settlement had been reached. Around 3:30 am, amongst much anguish, something hit me. (I call it the spirit). I realized that my husband had never, EVER fought for any of his family traditions before. Ever. Our family has carried on traditions my family grew up doing. My husband likes them, he is fine with that. But I realized that he had never cared enough to fight for something he did growing up before. If it meant so much to him that he was willing to fight for it, then it was important we did it the way he wanted. So, Santa started wrapping gifts, every single one, stockings included.

      Since that Christmas, things have changed a little. I have made sure to have wrapping paper ready to go every year to honor the prompting I felt was right, in the wee hours of the morning. But, two years ago, all of our kids got big gifts. Hubby didn’t want to wrap them. It didn’t make sense to wrap a bike and kitchen. When Christmas was over that next day, both of our older kids, at different times, told him they like it a lot better when Santa leaves his gifts unwrapped. My hubby told me, and I must admit, there was a little smile inside. But I didn’t show it. :) He said “maybe our kids like it better without wrapping, we should remember that for next year.” It was pretty funny. So the next year we left the bigger gifts unwrapped, and the kids commented again, that it was a lot cooler when Santa didn’t wrap his gifts.

      So this year, we will see what Christmas Eve brings. I have the wrapping paper ready, but I didn’t buy as much as a I usually do. ;).

  4. Rachael says

    Bigger gifts from santa were not wrapped, but the majority of the time presents from santa were wrapped. So what did Santa end up doing? :)

  5. Cindy says

    Oh, I had to laighh when I read this. I was so appaled to find out that in my husbands family, Santa didn’t wrap anything. They were in piles covered with blankets. In my family, everything was wrapped (unless it was big, like the trampoline). My family took time to open gifts one at a time. His, it seemed, was over in minutes. Surprisingly, he was totally fine with Santa wrapping gifts after we got married. I think he has enjoyed seeing the happiness on the kids faces with each individual gift they open.

    My sister-in-law compromised by wrapping the presents and putting them in piles under the blankets.

    I’ve since learned that Santa doesn’t wrap everyone’s presents (I think he asks parents how they want it done :) ), but there’s magic no matter how you do it.

  6. Rachael says

    Santa does not wrap presents at our house – not even in the stockings! Must have been that way in my husband’s house, too . . . . or it didn’t matter that much to him. We never had a tense conversation about it. What I insisted on keeping was a family Christmas devotional on the morning of Christmas before the presents were opened. I don’t think I was met with very much resistance, though. :)

  7. says

    Honestly, I have never heard of gifts NOT being wrapped. Please don’t be offended, but it is completely baffling to me! Almost all of the excitement of Christmas is getting to spend time either ripping or agonizingly slowly un-doing the paper off gifts. What fun is it if you can see all your presents all at once? The other fun part is getting to dig under the tree for the ones marked as your presents and happily handing your parents and sibling their presents as you find them, so I also can’t imagine having all my presents in one spot in the room. I’m not saying your way is wrong, but it is definitely not how I grew up! :) And I really, really enjoyed the way I grew up.

    I feel incredibly lucky that my other half grew up almost the same way I did (our parents even have the EXACT SAME (very uncommon/rare/hard to find) tree topper, found in two different states, bought the same year…no kidding) and almost all of our holiday traditions are very similar. If they are different, I always tend to like the way he grew up more (i.e., my parents didn’t decorate much and his go allllll out, I love it), so we rarely have any arguments about that sort of thing. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to try to figure out how to do traditions coming from two different backgrounds… thanks for sharing your story!

    Just out of curiosity — which way did you go with? Wrapping or not wrapping?

    • says

      No offense taken. :) Your defense sounds just like my husbands. I had to laugh out loud about the tree topped. You two were meant to be together. Merry Christmas.

  8. Christy says

    When I was a kid, Santa did not wrap our gifts, but Santa wrapped my husband’s gifts when he was a kid. Our kids get wrapped gifts from Santa! My husband convinced me by saying the kids would prefer to unwrap – it builds the excitement.

  9. Sarah says

    What a great post! Regarding Santa gifts: each kid had a stocking and one big gift from Santa – none were wrapped.

  10. Amanda says

    Growing up, Santa wrapped all his gifts, unless they were pretty big. But, he only brought 3 gifts per kid (not counting stocking stuff), everything else was from my parents. Santa didn’t wrap the gifts for my husband’s family and they didn’t do stockings either. At our house now, Santa’s gifts come wrapped, unless its a bike or something large. My husband was pretty excited to do stockings with our kids. He didn’t’ really care either way about Santa wrapping gifts or not.

  11. Amanda says

    In my family growing up, Santa took care of one “large” gift, which was wrapped, and the stocking, which was mostly unwrapped–but if there were some smallish gifts in there (like a CD or something), those might be wrapped, too. My parents were really great about savoring the experience of Christmas and making it magical for us.

    My husband’s family tradition was a smaller gift from Santa, left unwrapped by the stocking. But, he has never insisted that we do things that way. Sometimes, he’ll give me a few eye rolls about making Christmas magical for our kids, but in the end, I think he likes it that way because he’s never suggested doing anything different.

    As far as present opening goes, (which is a whole other can of worms!), our families did things similarly. One person at a time opening one gift. In my family, the child just younger than the child opening will find and hand the next older child their next gift. (Oldest child gives to mom, mom gives to dad, dad gives to youngest child…and on up the chain again…) So, we took our time opening gifts. While our friends were out riding their bikes at 7 a.m. because they were all done with Christmas, we were just getting going. I love that Christmas took 4+ hours to enjoy! (And after all the work done by Santa and my parents, I can imagine they wanted to actually enjoy the process of undoing it all!)

    Oh–and one more tradition to throw out there for everyone…at some point, my mom started making “treasure hunts” for us to find our Santa presents. (After Santa dropped off the gifts, she and my dad made sure that they ended up in the right place.) We would have an envelope on the tree with our name on it that held our first clue. It built up the anticipation even more! After a few years, my mom realized that it was better to color code the clues, (which she typed up on the computer), so that you didn’t go to the wrong place and accidentally pick up someone else’s clue trail. When we found the gift, we had to bring it back to the Christmas tree and open it in front of everyone.

    I agree with the previous commenter–I feel really blessed that my husband and I haven’t had many disagreements about how to handle Christmas traditions. I’m sure it would add to the stress of an already stressful time of year!

    • says

      What a fun idea the treasure hunt is. I can see our kids going crazy over that one. So glad you and your hubby have always gotten along when it came to Christmas. Happy Holidays.

  12. says

    Funny! My husband and I just had this conversation last night! We are starting a new tradition of the kids having their presents wrapped in their own paper. There aren’t names on the gifts, they have to look in their stocking to find a piece of wrapping paper that will let them know which paper is theirs. But, Santa still brings a couple of things. I wasn’t sure if we should use the same paper, different paper or non at all. All of my gifts were wrapped growing up, but I honestly don’t remember the wrapping paper. I just remember gift tags saying from Santa. My husband had his gifts sitting out unwrapped. As of right now santa’s gifts are going to be unwrapped, but I’m still leaning towards wrapping them, so we will see. I just love to watch my kids’s faces light up when they start seeing what’s under the paper. Plus the gift giving lasts longer.

    • Camille says

      I really like that idea! So creative! My husband’s grandma would write their names in calligraphy from Santa. He was pretty disappointed when I didn’t know how to do that! So we just type up the names in a cute font and tape it on each present. But I really like the idea of different wrapping paper for each person!

    • says

      Kim, It is the time of year for those conversations. Glad yours went more smoothly than ours. So fun to have each child have their own paper. Merry Christmas.

  13. says

    Santa does not wrap presents in our house. Each kid has an area identified by their stocking where Santa places their gifts. All family/friend gifts are wrapped.

  14. says

    i’m one of those crazy santas! i grew up helping my mom wrap all of the santa gifts on christmas eve in one of our bedrooms! we would start around 9pm after my younger sister & brother went to bed. we would stay up and wrap for hours! i loved it…we listened to country christmas music (like Alabama & Vince Gill) and talked and talked. us 3 kiddos picked out our special wrapping paper and we each had a stash around the living room (chair, couch, recliner) with our stockings on top of the wrapped gifts.
    needless to say…i also wrap all of the gifts from santa for my two girls in special “from santa” paper that i pick out (it is different each year). santa brings all toys and things that they “want.’ we give the girls their ornament, a holiday book, and things that they need (clothes, shoes, robes, etc…) the girls only get toys at christmas & their birthdays…so this is a big deal! our 10 year old still believes in santa…probably bc she knows her daddy & i think we have too many toys and since we don’t buy them, she knows they have to come from him. LOl!
    i do all of the wrapping a few nights before Christmas…though. i tried wrapping on the 24th a few years ago and it was awful! the girls didn’t go to sleep until midnight (they were so excited) and then i had to wrap! ugh! much better now! :)

  15. Kristie Roberts says

    Growing up he wrapped everything. In hubby’s house, he didn’t wrap a single thing. I think we have a compromise, he will wrap the stockings stuff, and leave the big stuff unwrapped. But we also do Santa gifts downstairs by the fireplace, and the rest of the stuff is upstairs by our Christmas tree. We have a really small tree downstairs. Makes it more fun. And nobody is sneaking to check out what was brought.
    Thanks for sharing your story. It takes me back to a few memories I would rather forget. But you have some really great advice. I have LOVED reading this series. Thanks for doing it!

    • says

      Kristie, you sure know how to make a girls Christmas. Thank you for your kind comment. I am so glad you like the series here on The Idea Room. Sounds like you have reached a great compromise. Sorry to bring up old memories. :) Have a Merry Christmas.

  16. Emily says

    Growing up, Santa didn’t wrap anything for me or my husband. We had to wait while each person unwrapped one gift under the tree at a time, so if we had to wait for each person to unwrap the gifts from Santa, we would have gone insane (8 kids). I loved running out in the morning (in a line of youngest to oldest) and being able to see what Santa brought that year. It was usually stuff in the stocking (candy, orange, toothbrush) then a big thing (like a bike, rollerblades, fishtank, or stereo) and a little thing (like a movie, CD, or book). But then my parents would give us a big gift as well.

    • says

      Emily, that would have been a long wait, with 8 kids. Sounds like we had similar Christmas mornings. I loved running out to see the gifts set out on display. Thanks for your comment. Have a Merry Christmas.

  17. MeganM. says

    In my family, All presents were wrapped, and then opened one at a time in front of everyone, that way “Christmas” lasted longer. We didn’t get a lot of presents growning up so this was the way my mom did it so it was magical for us. And all the presents from my mom were from Santa. In fact, all of us kids are adults now and the presents from her are STILL from Santa. Now it’s a running joke.

    At my dad’s house, we didn’t have presents from Santa. He told us that Santa couldn’t find the house (which I never got because it’s in a large neighbor in a major city) so instead we got presents from some guy named “Bob” or “Joe” or “Frank” it was kinda creepy and hilarious. We still do that too. :)

    One year I was at a friends house and it was a free-for-all and I was so shocked. Not that that is wrong by any means, but it was the first time I realized that everyone does Christmas Morning different. It was pretty funny.

    • says

      Every family does do things different. Thanks for sharing how it worked for you growing up. Enjoy your presents from Santa and Bob this year. Merry Christmas.

  18. says

    YES Santa totally wraps his gifts! They all go under the tree wrapped so that everyone can throw paper around & get excited for each gift opened! We would sometimes have one or two that were left unwrapped in the very front of the tree. Usually these were things that were too big to wrap, like when we got a computer or a pool table. But once in a while it’d be something important… like the thing we wanted most or the thing that all the kids wanted that year (like the cabbage patch doll year).

  19. says

    In my house growing up, most Santa gifts were wrapped (other than huge things like bikes or doll houses). They were done in different paper from Mom & Dad gifts, though as years passed I began to notice that Santa’s handwriting looked a lot like Mom’s. My gifts were to the right of the tree while my sister’s were to the left. Mom and Dad’s were in between (though Santa did not bring them anything, so they had rather small piles normally).

    In stockings, a few larger items were wrapped and those were at the top, then everything else was hidden underneath. In the toe of the stocking was a large orange. We were not allowed to eat any candy or play with any toys until our oranges were gone. (Santa’s way of making sure we got a little nutrition Christmas morning I suppose.) There were also a few (chocolate) gold coins, because of the old tradition.

    Since my sister is quite a few years younger than I am, there were several years when I got to stay up late and help wrap her Santa gifts. Those are some of my best Christmas memories, hiding in my parents’ room with Mom (in case she wakes up and has to go to the bathroom), trying to keep the giggling to a minimum. And of course, sampling some of the chocolate, to make sure it was still good. ;-)

    Now, my husband and I don’t have kids (yet) but I don’t think this question has ever been brought up. I’ll have to find out if Santa wrapped gifts in his house! Really though, I can’t imagine not having at least most of them wrapped. Seems to me like it would all be over too fast if everything was just sitting there!

    • says

      Bun girl, what great memories of Christmas. And a great opportunity to make memories with your mom. Thanks for sharing your traditions with us. Have a Merry Christmas.

  20. says

    btw, I had no idea until reading this post & comments that santa not wrapping gifts was even an option! Completely surprised by this. Is it possibly a regional thing? I’m in the midwest.

  21. says

    Ok, I am 51 so bear with me. When I was little I remember coming downstairs and seeing big gifts not wrapped like a bike or a huge battleship for my brother but cannot remember if they were from Santa or not. My own kids 28,25, and 22 grew up knowing Santa wasn’t real. !!! Can you believe I said that!! Horrors! :) But I always gave them one present from Santa and it was wrapped. So sorry you have such a rough Christmas eve. Family traditions are wonderful things. I wonder if my kids will feel strongly about certain things when they start to have their own families. Time will tell. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Kathleen. You are right, family traditions are wonderful things. I am sure your kids will want to carry on many of them as their families grow. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.

  22. says

    Great post today Heather! Santa only brought us one gift each Christmas and it was unwrapped in our special spot. y sisters and I were all by the couch and my two brothers by the fireplace. It was usually a larger gift. Then we had only 2 other presents from my parents that were wrapped and under the Christmas tree. We had to take turns unwrapping them from youngest to oldest. No unwrapping free for all at our house. The stockings had just a couple of small gift items in them and they were unwrapped.

    My husband’s family on the other hand wrapped everything on christmas eve and then opened them that night. The next morning they got their stockings from Santa. They also just had a free for all when unwrapping too.

    We had a lot to compromise about. Good thing he likes the idea of having the kids wait till Christmas morning to open presents now :) We also don’t wrap our one Santa gift to each child now either. But we do let the kids open a new pair of pajamas and their new christmas ornament on Christmas Eve…and they are wrapped.

    • Vance says

      Yes it has been fun to blend our two ways of opening Christmas presents to make our family’s own traditions. Thanks Amy for coming up with most of those traditions that I know I kids really look forward to and remember each year.

    • says

      Amy, so fun. Glad to hear that you and your hubby were able to compromise. I like the idea of presents on Christmas, not Christmas Eve too. Have a very Merry Christmas. Thanks for letting me be apart of The Idea Room.

  23. says

    Yes, Santa is a wrapper in our family. However, he only has plain red paper available to him and scribbles the child’s name with a black sharpie. It was my sister-in-law who started this “tradition” and I am stuck with it. Yuck.

  24. heather says

    I just had to laugh when I read this post just because my husband and I have had our worst arguments over Christmas Traditions. We’ve been married now for almost 10 years and finally got our Christmas Traditions situated. We’ve ended up taking a little from him, a little from me, and adding a few new for our family. It wasn’t easy but I am grateful we were able to decide on what to do

    • says

      Heather, what a happy ending. Christmas Traditions can bring so much stress. Glad you and your husband have found what works for you. Thanks for your comment. Have a Merry Christmas.

  25. Darcy says

    Santa gifts come wrapped at our house. Luckily (for me) my husbands family didn’t really do much in the way of Christmas traditions. They are all pretty simple and laid back, so my husband just kinda goes with whatever I want. My family had some simple traditions that we’ve adopted into our own family.

  26. Brittany says

    i usually had one big(ger) gift from santa that was unwrapped. the rest was from my parents, wrapped of course. @maria so it’s not like you see all your presents at once. it’s just the santa gift that is unwrapped. but i guess if all gifts are from santa, like other’s have said, then of course they’d need to be wrapped. santa never wrapped the stocking goodies either.
    my husband and i don’t have kids yet, but now that i’ve read this, i’m definitely going to have this conversation. i don’t see him being insistent on doing what his family does (wrap gifts from santa), but you never know!

    • says

      Brittany, I didn’t think my husband would have an opinion either. Boy was I wrong. Learn from our mistake, it will make for a much better Christmas day. :) Merry Christmas.

  27. Kelly says

    Like some posters, I’m was completely surprised at the idea of Santa not wrapping presents. All gifts were wrapped and under the tree. We did stockings, but they were mainly filled with candy – no wrapped presents. We also open presents one gift at a time. Usually the youngest child (that can manage the presents) plays Santa and passes out the gifts. This helps them stay calm until his/her next present is found under the tree. They seem to really enjoy it and it makes for some cute photos. I loved the anticipation of wondering if the next present pulled from under the tree was going to be mine and opening each gift.

    • says

      Yep, it is true, Santa doesn’t always wrap gifts. Loved what you said about anticipation. The anticipation on little ones faces is the best. Merry Christmas.

  28. says

    We had the same thing… In my family Santa had an AWESOME display of unwrapped gifts… the excitement was running out to see what he did to display the gifts… I remember my Cabbage Patch kid listening to my walkman…(Did I just age myself there???) HA! My husband’s family wrapped everything from Santa. Luckily, my husband liked the idea of instant excitement more than his family’s tradition… or maybe he just likes me to be happy! Either way, Santa does not wrap gifts here. As for compromise… I have an extremely UGLY, ANCIENT, PLASTIC Santa and 2 reindeer in my yard this year. Seriously… I think it was manufactured in 1945… that was my husband’s grandmothers and is his best memory from childhood Christmas. She passed away 2 years ago and even though it is hideous… there it sits. She was my favorite member of his family…and I couldn’t love it more!

    • says

      Shelli, love it. Good to hear that Santa had it right in your house also. :) Funny you talked about grandmas ancient things. Our family sold my grandparents home this past Fall. Luckily I got a lot of their old Christmas decorations. They are all over our house this year and I love it too. Seeing them brings back the best memories. Thanks for your comment. Have a Merry Christmas.

  29. Amy says

    Fun post- my husband does not have a great memory and/or doesn’t really mind what I do. Thankfully b/c I would “fight” for these things too!!

    Our tradition (not from either family but just ours) is that Santa brings each child ONE thing and it is wrapped in special Santa paper with a note from Santa, the rest is wrapped in their special paper(everyone has their own) and is from us, but it is all a suprise and brought out from hiding in the wee hours of the night!!

    We have started many new tradtions with friends and my kids cherish them as much as I would hoped for!
    Have a wonderful holiday-

  30. Pip says

    No, at least not for Christmas and I can’t think of a time for any other holiday. We spent enough Christmas’ with both families before we had kids that we knew each families traditions and adopted what we loved about them into our own.

  31. Ashley C says

    Santa does not wrap gifts here! I grew up in Texas (my parents from the South as well). It would be really hard for the parents to set up and sticker all those gifts after they are unwrapped, if Santa wrapped the gifts in the boxes. Santa and elves do all the work, right! My husband grew up with Santa gifts wrapped, but since I mostly do the Christmas prep, he didn’t have a hard time going along with my tradition (thank you honey). Once we had my husband’s brother and his daughter for Christmas. Wow what a bummer that was. He insisted on wrapping the gifts even though he saw that we weren’t wrapping–he wasn’t even careful about the choice of paper. Aack. But it turned out ok, I don’t think the kids questioned the display. All other gifts from parents, siblings, grandparents are wrapped under the tree. We do open a gift one at a time to enjoy and see one another’s gifts (which by the way is after breakfast). Oh and Santa doesn’t give all the gifts. Parents give some good gifts as well. Brother in law mentioned above didn’t have a single wrapped gift for his daughter–all glory went to Santa. Sorry BIL, you just didn’t have it together that year. So while my children had many presents to open from various people, his daughter had one gift from us to open. Guess you need to talk in advance with who you are celebrating Santa and Christmas with. Unfortunately, this brother is stubborn, a bit self-centered and immovable. And that time his daughter was the victim. This year with Christmas on Sunday, my kids sure are worried about the opening presents. They will get to enjoy Santa gifts whenever they wake up (last year was 2:30 am). We will go to church at 9, then open the rest of the gifts after church.

    • says

      Ashely, shout out for the no wrapping. Love it. Your stories of Christmas with family are great. Funny how people handle this time of year. We have church at 9 this year also, and are trying to decide how to handle Santa gifts. We won’t be up at 2:30 though. At least I hope not. :) Thanks for your comment. have a Merry Christmas.

  32. Brandi says

    Santa gifts were always wrapped in Santa wrapping paper at my house. He also wrapped some small gifts in our stockings. Things like chapstick would be unwrapped, but jewelry in the stocking would be wrapped. My husband has a terrible memory an can’t remember if Santa gifts were wrapped or not, but knowing his mom, I think they were probably wrapped. We wrap Santa gifts in Santa paper for our kids. I hadn’t heard of Santa presents being unwrapped until I was an adult. Oh and I’m from the Midwest too :)

  33. says

    I agree with you, Santa doesn’t wrap gifts because he doen’t have time. I love that my kids can walk downstairs and know instantly what gifts are from Santa. When I was a child, Santa didn’t wrap my presents either. I don’t know about my husbands (I never asked) but it must not have been important to him because he’s never said anything about it and we’ve been married for 30 years.

  34. Julie says

    Santa does not wrap gifts at our house. Unfortunately he apparently leaves wrapped gifts at my mother-in-law and father-in-law’s (divorced) houses. In THEIR handwriting! Not a big deal right now as my daughter is only 3, but I know it is going to ruin it for her. My husband said he didn’t believe once he could read because his grandma always gave him gifts from Santa in her handwriting. I’m considering telling DD that they think it is fun to pretend to be Santa, but the real guy only leaves presents at our house on Christmas eve. Fortunately, my husband will go along with whatever I want to do (when it comes to Santa anyhow).

    • says

      Julie, I am with you, no wrapping it is. Sounds like the tough part will be getting your in-laws on board, not your hubby. Thanks for your comment. Happy Holidays.

  35. Shawna says

    Growing up for us was all presents under the tree were from Santa and all presents were wrapped…. mom and dad gave us a few smaller presents tucked in our stockings (also wrapped but in different paper from Santa’s presents) and an orange and a candy cane that were to tide us over at the pre-dawn hour we scampered from bed. In fact, my parents insisted we could only attack our stockings and that Santa’s presents couldn’t be opened before they got up at 9, because to be a good child that also meant letting mommy and daddy sleeping in until a decent hour on Christmas day! I am recently remarried, and neither of us have children…. in fact, if we plan to have any we will have to adopt, so we didn’t have to worry about traditions this year, but our traditions really aren’t so off from one another’s that it would cause conflict. I am hoping that by the time we introduce children into our family that both of our traditions will have meshed into one….

  36. Michelle says

    My favorite thing about Christmas was choosing the spot (a couch cushion or chair) that my stocking would drape over, and then going there Christmas morning where my stocking was filled and there were presents from Santa. They were always wrapped.

    The other presents (from my parents and siblings) were wrapped under the tree. We opened our presents one at a time, but we could open the stuff in our stocking while we waited for our turn.

    Honestly, my biggest problem is that I like both ways (wrapped and unwrapped Santa gifts) and still haven’t decided. One fun thing my sister does is she leaves a long string attached to her kids’ stockings, and they have to follow it all around to find their gift from Santa. The rest of the gifts are wrapped under the tree.

  37. says

    Wrapped! It builds the anticipation. One gift at a time. We don’t mark what’s from Santa and what’s from Mom and Dad. It’s just wrapped and has their name written on it somewhere. My husband was willing to adopt pretty much all my traditions. He actually loves them; all except the waking up for before sunrise. He’s not much of a fan of that one. This Christmas, we have church at 9am and for the 1st time I can remember, we will not be opening the gifts right away. I don’t want that part rushed and I don’t want us to finish and then groan because we have to get ready for church. Instead, I will hide the living room with a blanket, per my 11-yr-old son’s request, we will got to church and open our gifts afterwards.

  38. Lindsey says

    At our house, the “Santa present” is never wrapped. He only gets the kids one thing that they ask for and it is left unwrapped on their stack of wrappred presents from Mom and Dad. He also fills the stocking and the things in there are definitely not wrapped. That would just be madness. The stocking is the wrapper…I do remember my mom wrapping an occassional thing in the stocking like a box with jewelry, but the majority of the time, no wrapping in stockings. Merry Christmas!

  39. Marcie says

    Santa doesn’t wrap gifts here either! When I was growing up, Santa would bring one larger gift for each child and leave it unwrapped under the tree, and then stocking stuffers were not wrapped either. Most of our presents came from my parents, and those were wrapped. My husband grew up with wrapped Santa presents, and that’s how he figured out the Santa secret (at the age of 5) because he recognized his mom’s handwriting on a Santa present. We are going with unwrapped presents for my kids, because my husband doesn’t care, and I think also because he doesn’t want to wrap any more presents. :) By the way, we both grew up in the Midwest.

    The present opening question is interesting, too. My husband’s family has a big free-for-all, and present opening is over in about 10 minutes. I don’t like it because I don’t get to see what everybody gets, and I don’t get to enjoy their excitement when they open a present that I chose for them. Plus, I have to help two little ones open presents, and it is just too much chaos for me. With my kids, we are going with my family tradition of one person opening presents at a time, this way the excitement lasts longer, and we can all enjoy both giving and getting gifts. My husband doesn’t mind that we seem to have adopted more of my family traditions, he is very easy going.

    Are you going to tally the comments and post the results? I would be curious to see!

  40. Stephanie W says

    Santa definitely wraps his gift and always in a different wrapping paper than the other gifts from Mom and Dad… Our current dilemma, opening a gift on Christmas Eve, my family always did it but the hubby’s did not and he is addament that they only be opened on Christmas day.

  41. says

    This post has caught me totally of guard. I’m in the boat with the rest who mentioned they had never hear of un-wrapped Santa gifts before. It immediately bring us several questions: What if the child gets up to go to the bathroom? What do you do with clothes and coats?

    In my house, and in My husband’s, all gifts were wrapped. Santa’s were in special paper, with special pens and tags, and they LOOKED magical. The paper was always glittery and the ribbon was way over the top, and the handwriting was scrolled and old-time looking. Also, Santa’s gifts were always in front of the other gifts. (Makes sense, right? Mom put out the families presents, went to bed, and then Santa came and put his out in front of hers.) Everyone’s were mixed in together, and we all enjoyed rummaging through and sorting them before we could get started.

    Both of our Families Christmas also always involved Grandma’s. In his, you opened presents at Grandma’s. In Mine, You opened presents in the morning, then went to Grandma’s to meet up with the rest of the (rather large) family.

    Where our Traditions differ is timing. My husband always got to open his parent’s gifts at Grandma’s on Christmas Eve, and only Santa’s at home on Christmas Day. At my house we opened them all on Christmas morning. But, this has worked out for us, since the gathering time for his family is Christmas Eve. We travel to see his family (at Grandma’s) on Christmas eve, and we are able to spend Christmas day with my family.

    There are a couple traditions of his that we incorporate. Like a red light bulb far away in the back yard that signals when “Rudolf” is close and kids better get to sleep. And a birthday cake for Jesus. As for traditions from my family, we make a big sooty boot print on the floor near the fireplace, and we fill the stockings with fruit as well as candy.

    Its been very enlightening to hear of this non-wrapped concept! I’m also in the Midwest and I’m curious if this is regional.

  42. Sara says

    Please no one be offended, but I’m baffled as well as how Santa can’t wrap the presents. Isn’t that what the elves are for? Aren’t there gift wrapping machines the elves use? :) I also think it takes some of the magic out of it with having everything already on display and opened for you. Some of my favorite memories from Christmas are looking through the pile of wrapped gifts and feeling them, and trying to figure out what it is before I opened it.

    In my house, the gifts from Santa were wrapped as well as the ones from my parents. The only time the gifts weren’t wrapped from Santa were if they were really big or really small, like chapsticks and pencils in our stockings. The night before, we place our stocking somewhere in the room, like the couch, the chair, etc and that’s where Santa puts the gifts. The gifts from my parents would be under the tree.

    My husband’s family was very similar, so I don’t think it’s going to be a a problem when we have kids. We have disagreed on other traditions, though. We finally decided that we could each choose a tradition from growing up that we wanted to continue with our family.

    Merry Christmas Everyone!!

    (I’ve got to know, who won?)

  43. Emily says

    How funny! In my family there was a mixture of wrapped and not. Sometimes they were wrapped, some years only a few were wrapped, but most years the presents from santa were out, unwrapped, and in separate spots for each child.

    To be honest I have no idea how it was at my husbands house. We decided early on that we weren’t going to do santa at our house so we never really had to have the discussion. I guess in that way we started blazing our own tradition trail right from the beginning. We usually wrap all the presents for our children and of course they know the presents are all from us, not from santa.

    Where we struggle now is in other Christmas traditions. We have spent the last several years jumping between his family’s house for this tradition and my family’s house for another tradition. We recently moved 2500 miles from home and family so this is the first year we really have to rely just on the traditions we want to have for our little family. It’s a work in progress.

  44. says

    The problem is solved – it’s called Santa Sacks. My husband thought it was brilliant (he still does). My family has been doing this for at least 3 generations. Each child leaves their own empty Santa Sack at the end of their bed (the size of a large pillow case) for Santa to fill.
    Santa leaves gifts in the Santa Sacks (instead of under the tree) to be opened on Christmas morning. In front of the family, each child takes turns “opening” their Santa Sack and brings out one gift at a time. Since it is a drawstring/elastic opening you don’t see all the gifts at once. The BRILLIANT idea behind these sacks…there’s no wrapping of Santa gifts!! We do wrap our family and friends gifts for under the tree.
    My kids LOVE this. They talk about sharing this tradition with their (future) kids. My son is serving a mission and I sent him his Santa Sack filled with gifts to be opened Christmas morning.
    Here is more info with lots of pictures and a tutorial…

  45. says

    We don’t do Santa in our home, but I thought I’d chime in with an idea from some great friends of ours. Everything is wrapped, but gifts from Santa are wrapped in special sparkly paper – the kind that glitters and shines – so it seems more ‘magical’ than the gifts from mom and dad, which are wrapped in pretty paper that doesn’t shimmer. I always thought that was a cute way of doing it.

  46. says

    oops – meant to say…. Each child leaves their own empty Santa Sack (the size of a large pillowcase) at the end of their bed for Santa to fill.

    by the way, if you want to save time, money and stress the Santa Sack is ideal for a new family tradition.

  47. Lyn says

    We’ve done both – when kids were younger, Santa wrapped – but he had his own wrapping paper, different from all the rest (I hid the roll so no one saw it). Then, for a few years, Santa’s gifts weren’t wrapped, and they were not left near the tree. My kids are 12 and 18, so no more Santa…..sniff sniff.

  48. Laura says

    Santa doesn’t wrap his gifts at our house.

    One thing my husband and I had to talk about, however, was stockings. At my house, stockings were the first thing we looked at, went through, while mom and dad were getting set up: camera, breakfast, whatever. At his house, stockings stayed on the fireplace until the very end of present opening, and then were looked through, almost as an afterthought. We open stockings first in our house. :) Then we eat breakfast, then we open gifts.

  49. lindsey kelly says

    gifts from santa – not wrapped and on display
    gifts from parents (and everyone else) – wrapped

    stockings at the end of the day after all the guests from christmas dinner leave
    also after we stopped believing we either got a family gift (like a wii or something) instead of santa gifts or a nice dinner out

  50. says

    Santa always wraps his gifts! (Even all the tiny ones in the stockings.) They come in different wrapping paper and he always has fancy writing. :)

  51. Lisa Hathaway says

    Not wrapped. We’d pick our special spot in the room on Christmas Eve after our Christmas Eve traditions and place our empty stockings there, knowing that in the morning they’d be full of goodies and little surprises and surrounded by Santa gifts. Christmas morning we’d have time to admire our Santa gifts and enjoy our stockings before piling into the pile of wrapped gifts from our parents and siblings under the tree. Though it was important that these gifts were opened one at a time so that everyone could see and enjoy Christmas.

    Since my husband and I don’t currently have children we’re still in the “spend with your family or mine” phase of our lives. Not sure how or when we’ll move on from that or what our little traditions will be.

  52. kate C. says

    He wrapped everything at both my house growing up and my husband’s house, and of course he still wraps things for our kids. I actually didn’t realize that he sometimes doesn’t wrap presents!

  53. says

    oh definitely, presents were always wrapped! Really big and difficult ones were not, sometimes just a blanket thrown over it to hide it. Everything in our stocking was not wrapped and there would be a few smaller gifts unwrapped sitting by our stockings, but majority of our presents were wrapped, and now I do the same! :)

  54. Melissa Wheeler says

    Growing up, stuff in stockings wasn’t wrapped, but presents under the tree were. To open, everyone would get one present and we’d open them all at once. Then another round. And so on until we were done. My husband grew up with nothing in stockings but some candy. They opened their presents one person at a time. So far, we haven’t discussed how we’re going to unwrap things (0ur daughter’s only 1). However, we have kept a couple of his traditions- cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and ‘hide the GI Joe in the tree’ game, and a couple of mine- fondue for Christmas Eve dinner and making ornaments. We’ve also started our own tradition- advent candles. Being LDS, we didn’t grow up celebrating Advent, but we both served LDS missions to Scandinavia where it’s done by everyone.

  55. Molly says

    THANK YOU so much for this post! My husband and I rarely ever even argue, but when it comes to Christmas traditions, we’ve had some big blow ups. Yelling, tears, hurt feelings, the works. It’s so hard to decide what traditions to keep and what to change, without someone being dissapointed or hurt. My family never wrapped Santa gifts. We opened family gifts Christmas Eve, and Santa was unwrapped and on display around the tree Christmas morning. My husband’s family opened everything Christmas morning, and everything was wrapped. IN THE SAME PAPER. I still find this weird. It was always so magical and exciting to run around the corner to see what Santa brought.

    This year is an even bigger dilemna, because we are hosting my husband’s family this year! So, we’re doing my way ( :-) ) and opening family gifts Christmas Eve and Santa the next morning, but my mother in law already wrapped her Santa gifts for the kids, even though we said no wrapping. Oy. Luckily, my daughter is only 14 months, so she won’t notice the difference, of course, but my niece is 5 and surely she will!

    We’ve already decided that for years to come that we’ll have Santa/Christmas morning by ourselves as a little family and Santa will be unwrapped. If the grandparents want to give a Santa gift that is wrapped, we’ll explain that Santa must have left the gift and Grandma wanted to wrap it or something like that. We’ll deal with it when it comes, I guess!

    Merry Christmas to everyone!

  56. ToVah says

    YES!!!! Santa definately wraps his gift. He only brings one. The kids get to ask Santa for 3 things and Santa brings 1 of those three things. All other presents come from mom and dad and are of mom and dad’s choosing. Yes, everything gets wrapped!!!!

  57. Maria says

    In our family Santa doesn’t wrap gifts either. I don’t have children yet and my husband and I haven’t discussed that tradition but I’m making a mental note to discuss that before Christmas Eve!

  58. Amanda C. says

    NO, Santa gifts aren’t wrapped! Presents from mom and dad are but they are placed in a special spot piled with the gifts from Santa and the stocking propped up on them so we would know where to go! Our family now does it the same way….the husband’s family did similarly and he never said a word otherwise as I charged ahead setting things up after our little guy went to bed ;) It was the best thing to walk into the living room Christmas morning to see wrapped things that had been under the tree and shiny new toys displayed! Stocking had wrapped and unwrapped (stocking was from mom and dad and mom the wrapper got tired of wrapping everything lol) Andddd…they still did santa for us even when we were older and knew the truth. (I mean how awesome is a pile of cool presents wrapped and unwrapped at any age ;) haha) When we would poke fun at her she would just say “If you don’t believe, you don’t receive”

  59. says

    Yes, Santa wraps the gifts! Mine were wrapped as a child too. In my husband’s family, Santa came on Christmas Eve. They’d go to the back of the house and the Dad would make up some stupid story about hearing sleigh bells. He’d “go check” and sure enough there were presents under the tree.

    I always found that so stupid. Who does it on Christmas Eve? LOL!

  60. Tracy says

    Nope Santa never wrapped at my house growing up. With 6 kids I couldn’t image. We don’t wrap our kids’ presents now either. But we both grew up that way. Our kids stake our their spot for their stocking. Santa puts their gifts there and we wrap the things from us and put them under the tree.

  61. says

    I’d never heard of Santa presents NOT being wrapped. So they are wrapped at our house. I do like the idea of the Santa Sack.

  62. Briana says

    Santa doesn’t wrap gifts at our house. He sets up the toys and plays with them a little while he eats his cookies. :)

  63. says

    Thank you so much for this blog post! I will say when it was just my husband and I we traveled every year for Christmas visiting our families. We never even gave traditions a second thought until we had children. That was ten years ago … things have significantly changed. We no longer travel – though my husband’s parents have both passed away – it would have been easy to just visit my family at Christmas but, we wanted to begin some of our own traditions and that can be hard to do when you are still at your own parent’s on Christmas morning.

    Oh, and at our home, Santa always wraps his gifts. :)

    Merry Christmas!

  64. Kim says

    I have to side with your husband on this one. We are Santa wrappers. Both my husband and I grew up with our Santa gifts that way. Fun to see the stocking filled with wrapped gifts and kids love to unwrap so why not give them a few more!

  65. Nicki says

    My husband’s family doesn’t wrap Santa presents, which I find totally weird – presents are just sitting in a pile. My family wraps every present (well, not the stocking stuff). Half the fun of Christmas is ripping off the wrapping paper! :) We wrap every present now in our little family, especially because we can’t afford a whole lot of presents – if Santa didn’t wrap any presents, we basically would have one thing to unwrap each.

  66. Christi says

    Santa definitely wraps presents.
    And stockings are just for decoration not for putting stuff in.

    I did the stocking thing once with a boyfriend since he was all about stockings. What a waste of money and time! I found all these cool small presents for him that I’d ordinarily give as individual gifts to put in his stocking in addition to his real presents. He went up and down the aisle at Walgreens and bought a bunch of crap and candy. Lame!

  67. Katie says

    Santa presents are wrapped in “special Santa paper ” (usually vintage looking Santa’s on it). It makes the magic last so much longer getting to unwrap each present. Also Santa hides our stocking at our house. Kind of like a cross between Santa and the Easter Bunny. That was always one of my favorite things as a child, trying to find where your sock was. Also we literally used our own socks – we would always try to find the biggest socks in our drawers.

    • Katie says

      Also another tradition we started on our own is we always have Birthday Cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve. We sing happy birthday and the kids get to blow out candles. We usually do it after we read the Christmas Story.

  68. says

    In my family growing up: Santa sometimes wrapped, sometimes didn’t. None of us seemed to notice or care.

    In my family now: Santa doesn’t wrap gifts, and that’s just our way of distinguishing which are Santa gifts and which are not. (Santa only brings 2 or 3 toys and he also fills the stocking; the majority of the gifts under the tree are from us.)

    A friend of mine had a tradition in his family: Every single year the Santa gifts were wrapped in plain white paper, with red ribbons. I really loved that idea and it seemed quite beautiful, but I decided not to do it for our family–that’s the last thing I wanted to be doing at the last minute every Christmas, tracking down white wrapping paper!

  69. Ann-Marie says

    Santa wraps in tissue paper! He brings “useful” gifts (toothbrush, new jamas, bubble bath etc) a choclate orange and a few wished for bits and pieces. They all go in small sacks – no stockings here since the children were very small!
    Everyone has a gift from everyone else – unless it’s a large gift like a bike, then we club together with the grandparents! These are gift wrapped and put under the tree with tags on. The tradition is that the youngest family member gets a gift and brings it to me so we can “read” the tag and then hand it to the recipient with a “Merry Christmas!”

    If gifts arent’ wrapped, where is the excitement and wonder of opening the present?!

  70. JoAnn says

    Santa wraps all but one big gift. Things in the stockings were both wrapped and unwrapped. I guess it doesn’t relly matter but I know my kids always loved the pile of paper that was on the floor…

  71. says

    My husband and I both agree that larger presents and things that need to be put together can be left unwrapped, but other gifts should be wrapped. (I just asked him, even though it’s our 4th year playing Santa.) If you think about it, doesn’t every Christmas movie show Santa’s elves wrapping presents/Santa leaving wrapped gifts? I remember when we had our marital counseling, we had to discuss celebrating holidays, but I would never have thought to discuss this issue.

  72. Erica M. says

    Our Santa absolutely does NOT wrap gifts. My husband grew up with his presents wrapped, but lucky for me he didn’t care either way. Now the Christmas tree decorations…that is a different story.

  73. Katie says

    Husband – no
    Me – all gifts were wrapped.

    We compromised this year (daughter is 2). Half are wrapped, half aren’t. Those that are wrapped are done in a special paper. Since she really has no idea this year, Daddy and Mommy didn’t buy any presents and they are all from Santa.

  74. Patti says

    Growing up Santa did not wrap gifts and luckily neither did in my husband’s home growing up. Now in our home for our kids he does not either. I think we just got lucky our Santa did the same cause I don’t know what would have happened if he did in one of our homes and we did not agree on what to do for the kids as far as a tradition for the kids. So I guess we got lucky and did not have to even discuss it. It was just a given for us.

  75. Valerie says

    Growing up, Santa’s gifts were always wrapped. In the same special wrapping paper. That’s how we do it now for my kids. :D

  76. Jill says

    Your story makes me laugh because a good friend of mine had that same struggle with her husband when they had kids!! My husband would prefer we don’t even celebrate the holiday, but I grew up with such wonderful memories of our family together and decorating a tree and visiting my grandparents (that’s our struggle).

    Yes, Santa wraps our gifts; however, growing up Santa did NOT wrap the gifts. I started wrapping Santa’s gifts because we do most of our Christmas on Christmas Eve and I wanted our kids to be able to unwrap something Christmas morning!! If Santa brings a large gift or something, he doesn’t necessarily wrap that though!!

    Our traditions are that we celebrate on Christmas Eve. We always go to my mom and dad’s house and do different things for meals – one year we cooked steaks on the grill, some years we will have hors d’oeuvres, other times we may eat out or whatever we decide to do. Then Christmas morning Santa comes and my parents come to our house where I fix breakfast and save back a gift for everyone.

  77. says

    I never realized Santa doesn’t wrap gifts for some families! It was never even a question in our house, I just assumed and wrapped them. Just asked hubby and he looked at me funny and said of course Santa wraps. I do remember sometimes the gifts in my stocking weren’t wrapped, but I’ve been wrapping those in our family now too.

  78. says

    my husband went to Germany on his mission too! I had never even heard of santa not wrapping presents, until last week from my friend, we were both baffled about the way the other one did it, she had never heard of them being wrapped. I personally like making Christmas morning last as long as possible, so I love that gifts are wrapped and opened one at a time. I feel it is kinda a bummer when it is all over. I have never had it the other way though. My husbands family literally does not have any traditions, not any, it is weird. He doesn’t care how we do it. It is fun to read about people’s traditions.

  79. Jeni says

    At our house Santa brought one huge thing which was never wrapped. Some people have said if they’re not wrapped the parents miss out on the excitement of the kids’ faces. In our house my parents had the video camera going and took still photos as we entered the living room youngest to oldest and got to capture the looks on our faces as we saw our presents from Santa sitting there with our full stockings. Then all the wrapped presents under the tree are from mom and dad so parents get all the credit for our hard work! Plus, if one of the kids sees “Santa’s” wrapping paper in the basement or a hidden present in the closet for a sibling that’s supposed to be from Santa I don’t have to explain later that Santa left it at our house early or something. Those parents who say everything under the tree is from Santa must have some really great hiding places to hide all those presents!

  80. says

    Yes- but only because there isn’t always a clear Santa gift, so it ends up being something I’ve already wrapped because I wrap as I buy! By the time my kids would ever question this, they’d be over santa anyway- they aren’t sticklers. Besides, you see representations of Santa both with packages and unwrapped items in his bag…

    GRAMMA, however, insists that Santa does’t wrap… I hate to break it to her, but i don’t remember that at all growing up…

  81. Gretchen says

    Growing up, we never had Santa gifts wrapped. MY husband did have Santa gifts wrapped. Because I did/do ALL the work at Christmas every year, I made the choice. Some things were wrapped in special Santa wrapping paper and a couple of big things were not wrapped. The things I wrapped were because if the boys found their presents in the closet or basement, they would not immediately see what they were. So we had specially wrapped presents and presents out in the open. The presents that were unwrapped created the best reaction and surprises. Stocking stuffers are not wrapped because, really, at that time of night, who has the time for that!?

  82. Kerry says

    Hmm… to be honest, I can remember it both ways as a child… but I think once I figued out who Santa really was, then the gifts got wrapped. Santa wraps some gifts, not all… because at our house, Sants leaves my daughter’s presents in a big ole’ Santa Sack with her name on it… so I fill it like a basket… some wrapped, some not – all in special “Santa” paper. I’m finding the Stocking conversation interseting, as I’ve never heard of wrapping the things in the stocking! Santa leaves that too… one for everyone… full of unwrapped gifts.

  83. Jeanine Crane says

    My husband grew up where santa brought a TON of presents and wrapped them all. I grew up where Santa brought one thing and it was unwrapped next to the stocking. My husband is not overly sentimental about traditions and I am… so we do it my way. In fact, I didn’t even realize how his family did it until a few years ago!

  84. Daphne says

    At our house everything is wrapped. Growing up, Santa usually left his unwrapped
    But I think it was due to lack of planning! LoL! At my husband’s parents, Santa still wraps everything. My parents aren’t that big into Christmas so we really go with my in-laws tradition of having fancy finger foods and Shirley Temples on Christmas Eve.

  85. megan says

    You know, both of our families wrapped Santa gifts growing up, and we did too for a long time. However, in the last few years we changed that tradition and no longer wrap Santa gifts. It just seems to make more sense that way, and is SO much easier. We also switched from several gifts from Santa to one big gift from Santa.

  86. jules p says

    At our house…Santa never wrapped his presents. This is how I grew up. And, luckily, my hubby loved that tradition and we have used it with our kids. Funny that you show pose this question…our daughter is dating this young man (very serious) and we asked her what does his family do? (letting her know this might be the deal breaker for us to let them get married) ;) No…I wink…but I reminded her that “traditions” are hard to let go of. And it does strain the marriage.

    So….Santa’s presents were never and should not be wrapped. That is wasteful and Santa would never be wasteful!! ;);)

  87. says

    When I was a kid Santa brought one present and it was unwrapped with a name tag. Now that I have children Santa only fills their stockings, if it doesn’t fit in the stocking then Santa doesn’t bring it. It seems silly to me to wrap things going in a stocking so those don’t get wrapped.

  88. Dawn says

    Been there, did that! My husband’s family wrapped the Santa gifts and mine didn’t since he didn’t have time to wrap gifts but would set them all up to play with them. We compromised to not wrap the Santa gifts so if the kids woke before us they could play with those gifts til we woke. And incorporated one of his where we opened one the night before since his mother is German and they opened all their gifts Christmas eve when she was growing up.

  89. Heather says

    Oh this is SO perfectly timesd. My husband and I just had this same “discussion” last night. In his house Santa did not wrap gifts. In my house Santa wrapped everything. Last year we left some gifts unwrapped and I hated it. It totally took the “extra” surprise out of everything. To be honest I don’t think our kids care (or will care). But I’ve always enjoyed unwrapping gifts. Even though it wastes paper. This year I’m wrapping ALL gifts.

  90. leslie says

    Santa does wrap his gift (only one). But nothing in the stocking is wrapped. It’s always in plain red or green paper with a super fancy big wire ribbon bow (different each year). And we open two gifts on Christmas eve – new pajamas for everyone, and a new game to play while we drink hot cocoa.

  91. Kristie says

    Santa doesn’t wrap his gifts at our house. Growing up, he did wrap gifts which is how I discovered the truth about Santa. I found “his” wrapping paper. Usually Santa’s gifts are too difficult to wrap anyway!

  92. sherry says

    Santa wraps in our house, in fact we choose 2 different colored papers (most of the time green and red) santa wraps in red and mom and dad in green :)

  93. Alicia says

    My husband and I had this same disagreement. Santa wrapped every single thing at my husband’s house but at my house, gifts were not only unwrapped, they were assembled with no sign of packaging. Santa gifts don’t seem as magical if they look like you just picked them off the shelves of Target!

  94. Barbara says

    Santa always wraps gifts and they are not in store packaging! The paper is different from that which Mom and Dad use. Santa’s gifts are not the biggest/best, either. We believe that kids should know that Mom & Dad are the purchasers of those. It makes them appreciate their parents more and have realistic expectations for gifts. Besides, you can’t wrap a bike or trike.

    That’s what we did, and now it’s our kids’ turn to have their own traditions. It IS NOT IMPORTANT which is chosen! It is NOT IMPORTANT to do what your Mom and Dad did; IT IS IMPORTANT to establish your own, and those can change! Now that we’re retired, living in Florida, I no longer cook the big traditional Christmas dinner. In fact, we just put a large pork shoulder and a rack of ribs in the smoker, and dinner will now be barbecue and potato salad, which is a lot easier on everybody, and I don’t have to be in the kitchen alone all day anymore! Yay for new traditions!

  95. maggie says

    wrapped. We have the same fight. I loved that they were wrapped! He loved that they weren’t wrapped. Oh well, that just proves that our kids will love it either way. And they’ll be wrapped :)

  96. Katherine says

    Santa doesn’t wrap gifts in our house (this is convenient, as we usually choose the most awkward items to leave unwrapped as Santa gifts!). Santa also only leaves one or two gifts, plus stockings, per child, and never the “main” gift. We like letting them have the fun of the Santa experience, but we don’t make a big deal about Santa in the first place. Just the fun, light stuff like leaving out cookies and visiting for a picture at the mall. No “naughty or nice” talk or pressure. The rest of the gifts are wrapped and are labeled as being from my husband and I. We both think Santa wrapped our gifts when we were little but we like the way we’re doing it with our kids.

  97. says

    We do not wrap Santa gifts, Santa gives the kids 1 big gift (to share or each) and another smaller gift, along with some books. Stockings are filled for the whole family. :) My husband’s family wrapped gifts, but he is on board with less wrapping and mess. ;)

  98. says

    Santa does NOT wrap…. (who wants to spend that much MORE freakin’ time wrapping paper just to tear off and throw away?!) :) I’m on your side. :) LOL

  99. Sherri says

    I love reading these. :) Like you and your DH, my DH and I had conflicting traditions. In DH’s house Santa wrapped everything. There were NO presents under the tree until Christmas morning when suddenly there were gifts from Santa and from their parents/each other. Santa must’ve gathered up all the hidden gifts. ;) One gift was opened on Christmas Eve. In my family gifts went under the tree as they were wrapped. All gifts from family/friends were opened up on Christmas Eve and only Santa gifts were under the tree Christmas morning.

    I have to say, you CAN change things up a little year to year and it won’t ruin Christmas for your kids. LOL When I was a kid some years Santa wrapped everything. Some years he wrapped nothing. Other years we got a big sack full of stuff instead of wrapped packages. Some years everything was under the tree and we had to scramble to see what was ours and other years everything was divided neatly by child and sat in special places. We never questioned it. Santa had some elves helping him, after all… maybe a different team of elves came with him that year. ;)

    DH and I worked out all the holiday traditions BEFORE we had kids. It was helpful to have it all talked out in advance. In our house Santa brings 3 presents (because Jesus got 3) and fills the stockings. Santa does NOT bring ‘big’ stuff (as in expensive stuff). Santa brings things mom and dad wouldn’t dream of buying (like Lalaloopsy dolls!). If there’s a bike under the tree or an ipod or a DSi, you can bet its from mom and dad. Kids understand when mom and dad can afford more or less a certain year but they don’t understand if Santa lavishes them with gifts one year and can’t do the same the next. My younger brother asked one year if he had been bad because he had gotten more gifts from Santa the year before. :( I didn’t want any of that. Santa doesn’t wrap presents in the stocking or under the tree. We usually let the kids open one gift on Christmas Eve and everything else waits until Christmas day. As for presents under the tree before Christmas, it varies. Some years we put stuff under as we wrap and other years things go in hiding until we pull them out on Christmas Eve. This has to do with pets and little ones’ curiosity about things under the tree. ;)

    We have a good mix of things we have brought with us from our own families and we have TONS of traditions that are just OURS. These we enjoy the most. :) We have a Christmas Angel that has been with us since my now 9.5 year old was 1.5. Noel, our angel, brings goodies all through December. She gives the kids those fun novelty Christmas things that you love but are over by the time Christmas rolls around. I mean, who needs a stocking full of Christmas trinkets that are just going to be put up the next day (or week…)? Noel brings Christmas movies, and Christmas plates and glasses and straws and ornaments for the tree, new Christmas pajamas and such. She also brings notes and tells the story of Christmas and Jesus’ birth and she encourages the kids to give and be kind and to share and spread Christmas joy. She’s pretty awesome. :) Last year she was joined by a pair of elves. Ivy and Jolly watch the kids and report back to Santa. They also makes lots of mischief. They are a fun pair. We have man other traditions like a count down to Christmas with books (we wrap enough Christmas books to have one to read every night between Thanksgiving and Christmas) and special music we always have to listen to. :)

  100. says

    Growing up, we’d have a bowl or hat with tags in it. Each tag represented a gift:
    To Willetta, From Mom & Dad.
    To Auntie J, From Oma
    … etc, etc.

    My Opa would pick tags from the bowl and read them. We’d then give that gift, watch to see what they got, and then go on to the next tag pulled from the bowl.

    Today, we carry on that tradition – my brother is hard-of-hearing, and he reads the tags so he knows what’s going on! It’s great – opening presents takes a few hours, and we all get to really enjoy the giving part & seeing what everyone received.

    It’s a special tradition I wouldn’t ever want to give up :)

  101. Jules from UK says

    Father Christmas wraps everything in this house, and did while I was growing up. I have never heard of him *not* wrapping presents! That sounds strange to me!

  102. Jules from UK says

    Father Christmas leaves his presents in a sack left by the fireplace and some spill out onto the floor. Presents from other people are put under the tree as and when they are given, but presents from Mummy and Daddy are put under the tree on Christmas Eve once my Son is in bed, so in the morning when he goes into that room, there are presents galore! That’s how we do it anway! And all presents are wrapped, including those from Father Christmas (he is never Santa in our house!)
    Love reading about everyones traditions.

  103. says

    Santa never wrapped his gifts when I was growing up… and I intend for it to be that way for my kids too! (When I have them… though I have never talked to my husband about this… I don’t know whether Santa wrapped his gifts or not… uh oh!)

  104. says

    Growing up we always had AWESOME stockings!! And only sometimes would a special present be wrapped in there, everything was usually unwrapped. Our big Santa present was by our stocking and was unwrapped. There were usually a few other small stocking stuffer presents that were unwrapped as well, but everything else from Santa and Mom & Dad was wrapped. I loved it because then there is the shock and excitement of running in and seeing what you got and dumping out the stocking to find more goodies, but then there are still surprises left when you are opening presents :). I am glad everything worked our for you and your husband! My husband didn’t have great Christmases growing up so he wanted it to be different for our kids. It has taken some getting used to for him to have cool stockings and the stocking stuffer presents outside were a new idea to him as well, but he has gone along with it just fine. And I think it just makes more sense to not have to wrap a playhouse (what our daughter got this year) but to have it all set up ready to go!

  105. says

    Santa always wrapped presents when I was a child, and he continues to wrap them in our family now, unless it is something really big like a bicycle. I just think it looks so beautiful to come down and have presents all wrapped up Christmas morning. Also, there is more mystery–what is that strange shaped package? Whose present is the large gold box? I think it makes it more fun for everyone, because we don’t bring most of the family presents (like the presents between me and my husband) down until Christmas morning either, so no one is sure of what all of the presents are.

  106. says

    My husband and had a similar struggle when our children were little. We came up with our own tradition. There is a very large Santa bag that I made out of a bright red fabric. In that bag are all of the Santa gifts. Sometimes they are wrapped other times there was a note stating Santa ran out of paper or time to wrap them all. The ones that were wrapped were always in Santa paper that we had hidden from the children. Our large gifts always came from us and often times were not wrapped but with a bow.

  107. Tracy says

    I am very late coming into this, I just discovered your site. I love this topic, it’s fun to read others opinions and I felt the need to add my two cents.
    I am a Christmas fanatic and I am so grateful that my husband and I grew up with very similar traditions. I don’t think I would be very flexible. On that note, Santa’s gifts are always wrapped (in different paper than the the non-Santa gifts) and the things in the stocking are unwrapped. (I think it’s because you don’t need to wrap something that you can’t see). The really large things are unwrapped for practical reasons. I have never heard of anyone leaving all the gifts unwrapped, funny how different we all are. I would hate to come down and see everything unwrapped, for me it would take all the fun out of waiting anxiously to see what that strange package is or watching with anticipation while your child unwraps as fast as they can to see if it’s that one thing they were really praying for!
    Just curious if you wrap birthday gifts?
    My children are all grown up now and eventually one of them might get married and then I will wait with anticipation to see which of our traditions survive.

  108. Janet says

    Santa wrapped his gifts in red or green tissue paper – no bows. The child’s name was written in big flowing letters across the front, as if the elves did it. The gifts were placed under the tree with the other presents. It was always magical to come into the room and see red and green presents! We still do that today although my girls are grown. My husband’s home didn’t have his Santa presents wrapped. They opened gifts on Christmas Eve so all that was under the tree on Christmas morning was from Santa. Different elves on duty, I suppose.

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