Every year, I hear from parents who are struggling with “The Santa Question.” As parents who want our kids to worship Jesus and have fun at Christmas, it can be hard to know if Santa should be included in our traditions, and if so, to what degree. Every family is created different, and what is right for my family may not be right for others. As long as you’re praying, reading Scripture, and searching out wise counsel, then I believe that you should follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the convictions that He places on your hearts.

I know of four different types of families when it comes to Santa:

  • Families who do not to include Santa in any of their Christmas celebrations
  • Families who tell their kids up front that Santa is “a fun game that we all play at Christmas”
  • Families who focus on the “historical” Santa, St. Nick
  • Families who go all-in on Santa

I believe that any of these options can be valid options for a family, as long as two guidelines are followed:

1. Jesus must be more prominent in your home than Santa at Christmas.

The whole point of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This needs to be the prominent theme in your home. I don’t mean that for every picture of Santa, you must have at least one picture of Jesus. What I mean is that you, as parents, must do your best to show your kids how amazing the incarnation is, and pray that they would be more thankful for the gift of Jesus than any gift under the tree.

Click to tweet: Pray that your kids would be more thankful for Jesus than for any gift under the tree. @johnmurk

If you’re looking for a tool to help your family treasure Christ above all this Christmas, check out this Advent Devotional from The Austin Stone Community Church. Even though we’re a few days into this 25-day guide, it’s never too late to jump in.

2. When “the Santa question” comes, don’t lie to your kids.

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate Christmas, you will have to face “the Santa question” at some point. Even if you choose not to include Santa at all in your home, Santa is everywhere – at the mall, at the grocery store, in your neighbors’ yards, on TV commercials. Every child eventually asks their parents this question:

“Is Santa real?”

I think there is a difference between playing games with your kids and telling your kids lies. There’s nothing inherently sinful about “stealing” your child’s nose with your thumb, playing dress-up, or pretending that you’re superheroes. These are not lies to your kids – they’re playful interactions.

Click to tweet: No matter how your family celebrates Christmas, you will have to face “the Santa question” at some point. @johnmurk

I think going “all in” Santa can be ok, as long as it stays in the realm of a “playful interaction.” But eventually, your child will get old enough to start understanding that Santa isn’t real… that it’s just a pretend game that we do for fun. And hopefully, he or she will come to you and ask you if it’s true.

When that day comes, it can be tempting to try to keep the “magic” alive, or to get one more year of Santa in. But that extra year of Christmas magic is not worth the potential loss of trust from your kids to you. When your child looks you in the eye and says, “Mom, Dad, is Santa real?”, I believe you need to tell the truth. Because one day, our children may start to wonder if Jesus is real. And on that day, we’re going to want every ounce of trust from our kids that we can get.

I pray that our homes will be filled with talk of Jesus and His birth this season, whatever you decide about Santa.