This month is a Christmas themed look at how we can communicate with Santa online!
Text Santa… Or email,
chatbot, video message...
A long standing Christmas tradition for most children (and adults) is to communicate with Santa; to let Santa know what we want him to bring us for Christmas. For many of us this is what Christmas is all about; making a wish list, excitedly letting Santa know what’s on the list and then waking up on Christmas day to find Santa has brought us what we have wished for.
“But how did he know what we wanted...” squeal children of all ages as the magic of belief is affirmed on Christmas morning. Along with checking to see if Santa has eaten his mince pie, Rudolph has munched his carrot and running outside to search for footprints or tracks in the garden. These routines and rituals are an important part of the joy of Christmas, almost as much as the gifts and act of giving itself.
Yes, how did he find out what was on the list? Every family usually has a Christmas tradition of supporting these magical beliefs and memories, whether that is a trip to see Santa in his grotto to tell him in person (and not forgetting the early present just for going to see Santa) or lovingly making and sending a letter to Reindeerland (Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ via Royal Mail: https://www.royalmail.com/letters-to-santa) and waiting on a reply of acknowledgement through the letterbox.
Sadly, we have missed the last posting date for Christmas 2017 for Santa to reply – advertised by Royal Mail on their website as 8th December 2017 - but in the digital age there are other choices, right up until Christmas Eve. A quick look on the internet shows an array of options including texting, email, live chat and video messaging. Obviously as with any website and services it’s always best to try these out before introducing them to a child or young person, and check for security features before uploading personal information or photos, and any payment methods.
Remember: “Santa may not be who he says is online”
Yet there are some popular long standing websites that are fun for children and adults in the run up to Christmas; including the popular online tracking of Santa’s Christmas Eve journey across the world; in real time. He’s getting closer!
NORAD tracks Santa (https://www.noradsanta.org/ - run by North America aerospace defence command) and opens its annual interactive Santa tracker on Christmas Eve to allow children and adults to follow his journey. Until Christmas Eve, the website has a countdown timer and there are games, music, videos and stories in Santa’s village.
For younger children, Google has its own Santa tracker (https://santatracker.google.com/village.html) and based on an advent numbered theme, there are interactive festive games, information on Christmas traditions and even coding for Christmas. There are many educational features including a fun version of google translate embedded, for learning Christmas words in different languages.
Portable North Pole (https://www.portablenorthpole.com/en/home) also has a Santa’s village with many activities, games and even recipes and a gift shop - but is more popular for creating a personalised message from Santa. Photos and information of your child can be uploaded and then a personalised video is created. The website also advertises a phone call from Santa. If it is not appropriate to upload this personal information about your child (read the T&C’s about data protection and permissions) then there are also standardised videos and messages via You Tube links. But again watch these first before showing to a child for any trigger points; most talk about being naughty or nice, or good or bad, which may raise issues. It may also be helpful to talk through a child’s ‘wish list’ before seeing or writing to Santa; there can be a lot of unspoken information in a wish list and always best to manage truths, beliefs and expectation ahead of Christmas morning.
So, however you choose to contact Santa; in person, by letter or online - I hope Santa brings his magic, with new and old family traditions and memories being created on the run up to Christmas, and when all is eventually revealed on Christmas morning. Merry Christmas!