How Many Presents Should Santa Bring, Why Did I Do it Wrong For So Long?

  • By: Elizabeth Jean
  • Date: December 19, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

As a new parent with Christmas right around the corner, a lot of you may be wondering how many gifts should come from the big guy and how many from mom and dad. In short for everyone who doesn’t want to read my story and explanation the answer is a minimum of one great gift that they wanted very badly, but not more than around 3 gifts total from Santa.

The Mistake Many Parents Make With Santa

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As young new parents, we wanted to give everything we could to our kids. When Christmas came around we would spend just about every dime we had and then with credit cards dimes we did not even have yet. There was nothing better than seeing the kids come running on Christmas day to a tree full of presents.

If it was a great time, then why did I call it a mistake? As the years went on and the kids got older they wanted more and more expensive things. Sometimes as I learned not to go into debt for Christmas I could not afford them, but how do you explain that to a kid who believes? If you say that’s expensive and tell him that Santa’s elves made the presents, it just doesn’t make sense.

Now if I don’t figure out a way to get this expensive gift not only do I let the kids down they realize the fantasy is over. Not to mention my wife kills me for ruining Christmas. Ok, that’s a little extreme but the fact remains that if the gift doesn’t show up there are issues I have to work around like explaining why Santa thinks my kid was not good enough this year to get what they asked for.

The next issue I saw over the years was that my friends and relative compared everything that my kids got to what they got for their kids. Then I realized of course the kids did the same thing. So if one kid got an IPad and another kid got a cheaper gift they felt unworthy. It was a crazy situation that started from me wanting to give my kids a great Christmas.

The final straw was when I started feeling jealous of Santa. That sounds a little strange to write because, in turn, I was Santa. The kids would get so many gifts from the big guy and nothing came from me. Other than the few gifts we would put our names on. It was like my kid’s expected junk from me and were so glad that Santa came through every year.

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How Did I Change Our Santa Tradition

First, let me apologize if you are going to read this section hoping for a secret way to transition to fewer gifts from Santa and more from the parents. I was not able to do it on my first three children. Lucky for me I have a 3-year-old who is just experiencing the Christmas and Santa ideas and paying attention. The rest of my children have learned the truth.

As we started shopping this year for the kid’s gifts it hit me wait, we can fix it, and do it differently for our last child. So, the wife and I talked about it, asked other parents, and read up on the topic. What we came up with is that Santa will only be giving three presents. Out of the three, one will be a nice gift and likely the main thing the kids wanted. The other gifts will be something like clothes or books.

There were many reasons why we decided to change our tradition as I mentioned above with the negatives of what we were doing. Besides fixing the stuff we didn’t like we were able to improve some things for ourselves as well.

Gift wrapping is now much easier. Before we would wrap gifts in a new paper, so no one realized that they saw the paper on a gift from us last year. We could also wrap the gifts and put them under the tree as soon as we have a tree. This is much better than hiding them in the attic until 3 am on Christmas day to sneak out and add them under the tree.

I no longer need to be jealous of Santa when my kids are opening up gifts. My kids will know that their parents worked hard to give them a great Christmas. Of course, Santa still brought the coolest gift, but I can live with that.

When you ask my kid in the future what Santa brought her it will be simple to remember. She will be able to say Santa brought me this cool gift. If I asked my older kids what they got from Santa for Christmas, they wouldn’t remember half of the stuff we got them. I guess it really doesn’t matter because now they won’t remember what we bought them but at least the big guy doesn’t get all of the credit.


In the end, Santa can bring as many or few gifts as you like. There really is no perfect answer. You can not do the Santa tradition at all. It’s the season of giving and I have learned my kids really enjoy that part too. They all are allowed to buy each other a gift at a set price. I think watching them give each other gifts is the best tradition we have added.

When they are watching their siblings open the gift waiting for the reaction on their faces it makes me smile too. I realize that’s what I love about Christmas day as well. It really doesn’t matter who the gift came from me or Santa it’s about their eyes lighting up, the paper flying all over the house, and the excitement.

How many gifts should Santa bring every year is a personal decision and each house is different.  Keep in mind that if everything comes from the big guy it could cause some negatives down the road. Ask your friends and people you know. Realize that on average 3 gifts seem to be a very good number to use. Making the gift special from Santa is more important than the quantity.

Merry Christmas Everyone, assuming it’s coming soon when you read this!

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