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Santa and Step-Kids - What do you do when the kids are at the other parent's house on Christmas Day?

StepGF84's picture

My boyfriend and I got engaged several months ago. He has a 7 year old daughter with his ex-fiancee (they never married).

My future step-daughter is 7 and believes in Santa.

My SO loves Christmas. I've never met someone who loved Christmas much as him. He loves getting nice gifts for his daughter and getting them all set up in our living room on Christmas Eve night so that his daughter wakes up on Christmas Day and sees her gifts from Santa. He videotapes her every year walking down to see her gifts in the morning. He likes the "big" gifts to come from Santa and the smaller items to come from him and I. This year, we both bought her some nice stuff that will be from Santa.

This year, BM gets to have their daughter on Christmas morning. Well, my SO wants his daughter to have a traditional Christmas of waking up and seeing her gifts from Santa, half-eaten cookies and half-drunk milk, the whole 9 yards. This won't happen this year, as she will be at her mom's house on Christmas morning.

The agreement between him and BM was that the parent who does NOT get the kid on Christmas Eve night/Christmas morning, gets to pick up the kid at 10:00 am.

My suggestion that I gave to SO was that we get everything set up from Santa the night before. Then we pick up his daughter at 10:00 am and bring her back to our house, where she sees her gifts from Santa. I think it makes sense because Santa comes to all of the kids houses on Christmas Eve night, right? Makes sense that Santa would leave some gifts at our house.

My SO didn't like my idea because he says the point of Christmas is to wake up at your house and see your gifts. He doesn't like having her come back from her mom's house and then see more gifts. The whole point is "waking up, walking to the living room and seeing your gifts." Okay, I get the point..haha.

My SO wants to do the whole Christmas reveal either BEFORE or AFTER Christmas Day. He would either want to have his daughter wake up on December 24th or December 26th at our house and see that Santa came with her gifts. I don't really like that idea either because Santa comes around on Christmas Eve, that is the story kids are told. Seems odd to tell his kid that Santa came early or late just for her. My SO wants his kid to still believe in Santa, but won't this idea make her doubt in the wonders of Santa?

What do you guys think? What do your DH and SO's do about Santa when the other parent has the step-kids on Christmas morning?

FYI - last year, BM didn't do a Santa reveal with their daughter at all, since it was my SO's turn to have her on Christmas morning. BM picked up their daughter in the afternoon to spend the rest of the day/night at BM's family, where they opened up regular gifts between each other. There is no chance in hell that SO will give BM the gifts we bought for Santa so that his daughter can see them at BM's house on Christmas morning.

crackergirl's picture

I think this might be more for daddy than sd. My whole Christmas hub bub was more for me than bs. He didn't care.

StepGF84's picture

He's been split with BM since their daughter was 2 years old. But he's always gotten his way in years past. He's always gotten his daughter on Christmas morning because he was the more "stable" one for several years after the split. Now, BM is married and has a toddler with her husband so she is also just as stable as he is. They had the every other year switch as kind of a loose arrangement. This is basically the first year that BM is actually keeping their daughter on her year for Christmas.

BM did NOT play Santa at her house last year. She gave my SO and I some stocking stuffers and a few small items to lay out at our house on Christmas Day. Those items were from Santa.

I agree that their daughter may start to question Santa after this Christmas. I know SO is not going to like that because he likes the Santa stuff.

I agree that this year, the gifts him and I bought can be from us. The gift I got her is pretty cool..yeah, I would like the credit instead of!!

Yes, he will learn to deal with this. It has been hard for him because, as I mentioned - he's always had primary custody because he was the stable one for so many years after the split. BM was kind of a mess for a while. Now she's grown up a lot, bagged herself a baby and a husband and can take more responsibility for their daughter. Good for her, but my SO has had to adjust. He likes that she is more responsible but it is hard for him to miss out on more stuff with his daughter. We've talked about it a lot.

BM coped just fine last year. He can as well, but he's just very stubborn and set in his ways Smile

zerostepdrama's picture

Why can't the big reveal take place when she walks in the house? Why does it have to be in the morning and only if she is walking down the stairs from her bedroom?

He just needs to suck it up. Lots of divorced/separated parents have to deal with it. If he wanted to do this every year for his daughter then he should have stayed with her mom.

zerostepdrama's picture


hereiam's picture

Right? Santa should just rearrange his whole schedule and drink non-alcoholic wine.

Gimlet's picture

I bet there are some fun surprises in the bag around the end of the night. Sorry little Tommy, you aren't getting that Lego set, you're getting a bottle of whiskey!

Gimlet's picture

He is just setting this kid up for a life of unfulfilled expectations. I mean, walking into a second house full of presents isn't good enough?? Geez.

The kid would probably be thrilled if left to her own devices, he's the one making it difficult.

Gimlet's picture

This might be apples and blow jobs, but my mom did something similar with my sister. Her birthday is July 4th and my mom convinced her for years that the fireworks and parades were for her birthday. She was devastated when she found out the truth and still acts like a psycho (more than usual) around that time.

OP's suggestion is perfect, actually. It fits the time frame, and still allows for a "reveal" but it's just not with bed head and slippers.

hereiam's picture

I get that he loves Christmas, but maybe he should grow up just a bit.

She's going to be just as excited to walk in and see her gifts from Santa as she would be to wake up and see her gifts.

Sometimes adults just make it so hard.

yolo222's picture

If this is the biggest issue you have your marriage will be very happy. It probably doesn't make a difference which way you do it..

moeilijk's picture

I will never understand posts like this. I got my kid new paper for drawing on the other day, and she jumped for joy (literally). One of the saddest things in parenting that seems to have gone the way of the dodo is teaching appreciation. Because parents have to find ways to accept and enjoy their own circumstances before they can teach their kids how to be happy. And lots of people become parents long before they're mature enough to provide their kids with good leadership.

uofarkchick's picture

Well, considering that the whole Santa thing is all one big lie (I'm not knocking it, just pointing out the facts), what's the harm in making up one more lie to go along with the other lies?

"I wrote Santa a letter to let him know you wouldn't be spending the night on Christmas Eve. So he must have come early to surprise you!"

moeilijk's picture

You're so right. I come from a country that has Santa, but I live in a country that doesn't really (they sort-of do, but it's weird).

Anyway, since I try to 'do' traditions from my home, and my kid is otherwise bombarded with the traditions here, I have found myself lying my @$$ off about soooooo much. It's so odd, because I notice it - I'm super-honest, so I feel weird. But yeah... seems par for the course!

Personally, as actual advice for the OP, I'd say the dad needs to decide what matters the most about Christmas. If it's really the waking up and walking in to a bunch of gifts on a certain time/date/place, then he should go back to court and try to get that. And if he doesn't have it, then Christmas just won't happen. Because he's created an all-or-nothing situation, and he's not getting all.

Or, he could decide it's time together, or celebrating the religious significance, or the various holiday events (enjoying hot chocolate or egg nog, special cookies, singing songs, watching Christmas specials).

What's the attitude towards life that he wants to pass on to his kid?

SMto2's picture

I agree that it makes the most sense for the gifts to be ready and waiting for her when she walks in on Christmas morning. That will help keep the story consistent. When we were doing visitations with my SSs, every other year they were at the house on Christmas morning. The off years, they arrived at about 4:00 p.m. Regardless of what their schedule was, we set out their gifts on Christmas Eve. If they spent the night there, they got their gifts when they got up. If they arrived later that afternoon, the gifts were there waiting for them. I honestly don't recall them being less "happy" about opening their gifts in the afternoon vs. first thing when they woke up. (Either way, oldest SS ripped open all there was in 2 minutes flat and asked if there were more, and youngest SS wanted to stop and play with each one he opened!) Since we had our DS 2 years after we got married, it would have been strange for HIM if we told him Santa came to the house TWICE, once for him and once for SSs. It sounds like you don't have any children, but if you do end up having them, you'd want to keep it consistent for their as well.

Rags's picture

You SO needs to be kicked in the butt with a reasonable foot. It is not his year. He gets her at 10AM. Santa comes over night. I would use the time after picking her up to ramp up the excitement "Hey, Santa ate the cookies, Santa left a bunch of stuff for you, etc, etc, etc...."

Then when she walks into the living room at your house she can go nuts.

Daddy needs to grow up a bit I think.

Acratopotes's picture

I hope you do not consider having children with this man, cause their Christmas will be horrible every year, they will have to wait till SD is around before Santa visits....

BUll crap stop it now, Christmas day is Christmas day over and done with, sorry if SD is not there, then he can only have video for every second year, He needs to grow up, he wanted to break it off with BM, and this is the consequences...

You will have to talk to him Hon and make sure he gets this, if he tells you it will change the day you have children he's talking crap... it changes now. If he is not prepared to change, run like hell and find some one else not so crawled up his SD's feelings

Steptococci's picture

This sounds rather familiar, but thank god my DH ain't quite this crazy. I don't even understand what the problem is. So your SD has Christmas morning at mommy's then she comes to your house and has Christmas morning all over again at your house? What's the big deal? She still gets a boatload of gifts. Am I missing something?

I was starting to wonder if we were the only ones letting the Santa lie involve him coming to both houses for SD. My sister was like, "no, Santa delivers the presents to wherever the kid is, not to the kid's house regardless of where they are! He doesn't make two trips for one kid." and it hadn't even occurred to me, I was like "um, yeah he does!" Santa has been double dipping for SD since as long as I can remember. But that pretty much sums up her life. She is a special princess.
BTW, Does anyone else do it this way?

I don't care for the Santa stuff that much, personally. Even though I had a lovely early childhood with Santa and all that. I now have 2 little ones and I guess I'll play along for awhile. But I figured out it was a lie when I was 7-8, and it's funny, I wasn't the slightest bit sad or heartbroken.

My fondest memories are of spending Christmas morning in my pj's with my parents and sisters, listening to music, eating breakfast then watching each other open gifts. It was always a nice laid-back family day. One thing I think my SD is totally missing out on, like many kids now (she is 9) is the whole, "giving to others" part of it. It's a completely pagan, self-centered, materialistic holiday for her. No adults in her life are teaching her a kernel of selflessness, and I think she's unwilling to consider the lack of truth about Santa, Elf on the Shelf, etc- because it doesn't suit her. I find it all rather tiresome, but I try to go with it and smile for my DH's sake. Anyway.
Can we stop trying to make our kids childhoods so magical already? Let's just love them and parent them.

dirtybiology's picture

When we don't get to have SS8 for Christmas morning we celebrate the day after because Santa has already come and SS walks in and sees his gifts instead of waking up to them. His BM still celebrates a day early which bothers me because Santa doesn't make special trips for all the kids with two homes. But I can't control that so oh well! I also think this may be his last year believing because he just lost faith in the tooth fairy. Yaaaay! I'm kind of a bah humbug ha.
Good luck! Kids don't even know when the day is half the time and if you are able to get your step kiddo excited on the car ride home, it'll be just as good as them waking up that morning.

StepGF84's picture

I'm kind of a bah humbag too..haha. I'm looking forward to when this Santa stuff is over! But..BM and my SO still like that SD believes in Santa. They are always super careful that everyone plays along. One time, I mentioned something about getting a gift "from Santa" while SD was upstairs and zoned out on her computer, and my SO looked at me with wide eyes and was like "Shh..what if she hears you?!" :sick:

Steptococci's picture

You sound so... Sane! I'm glad someone else feels this way.
Last year I posted something about my frustration with SD's greed. She is obsessed with the getting of things. She is turning 9 next week- but this started well before I met her, probably when she was a toddler. She has a huge birthday party every year thrown by her mom, then a birthday party at home with us, two Christmases with Santa coming to both homes. Two elf on the shelfs. Two Easter Bunnies. It's kind of ridiculous. And she brags nonstop about it. I think she is an insecure girl in some ways, and realizes there's something empty in being spoiled (maybe?) but since she can work the system to her liking, she absolutely does. I used to encourage her to give gifts to others, now I just don't care. If her parents want her growing up to be a spoiled entitled person, so be it. I just get tired of playing along, like we all owe these grand displays of affection and generosity to her because she's a COD.

Steptococci's picture

But of course, the kids themselves aren't really to blame for being greedy little devils. I'm glad my parents parented me with a healthy dose of tough love and occasional disappointment. It made me realize how lucky I was. And honestly, I was a handful in my own way, I can't imagine if they had guilt-parented me or if I'd had the luxury of playing them off one another in separate homes (not to say that divorce is a luxury, but sometimes kids learn that it can superficially work in their favor.) I'm much better off and hopefully my kids will be too, learning that life's not all about what you get. Merry Xmas to you!'s picture

My DH has always done Santa at our house. He said he doesnt want to miss out on the surprise with her. SD9 gets the santa gifts on Christmas day after he picks her up and walks into the house and finds them. Then on the opposite years she actually wakes up here and gets the gifts early in the morning. BM and DH have always done two santas and share Christmas day. We have a BS1 now and this year he will open his gifts when he wakes up. DH and I want SD to set the routine that our kids wont be waiting as she will wake up at BMs this year. SD sweetly bought DS a gift and I will be waiting to let him open that one so she can see him open it, so a sibling gift will be the exception. Once SD doesn't believe in Santa DH and I decided we wont do Santa for her on the years she wakes up at BMs anymore. And will tell our kids that Santa visited her at her moms this year.

Green4go's picture

We are forced to do Christmas eve every year because of the controlling BM. She doesn't get the chance to ever wake to gifts because were not allowed to pick her up till 9am and have to drop her off at 9 pm. I will be asleep (work nights) and miss it all. I hope to get to at least see pictures to see what all my shopping and hard work gets as far as excitement.

A child will not care what day it was and lets face it at 7 it will likely be the last year to believe anyway. So it's not like you have to pull off the charade of Santa forever. So it won't matter in the long run when presents were opened.

Peridwen's picture

Honestly your DH is sounding like a spoiled brat. And I get it - he's losing something he considers extremely important. But he's got to learn to deal with it. He divorced BM - he doesn't get every Christmas morning anymore. Parents in intact families don't have to learn to do the sharing holidays until their kids are grown, but it's the same feeling IMHO. My mom went crazy the first year I was married and split the holidays. I ended up calling my older brother in to talk to her because she was having a fit about me spending one holiday with the in-laws. She later admitted that she just hadn't been ready to share me with another family.

I think your DH is going through this same thing but it's harder to deal with because his daughter is young. He needs to get over it though. He won't do his daughter any favors by throwing fits over this unless BM is willing to sign an amendment to the CO where DH gets SD every Christmas Eve at 10am until 10am on Christmas day and BM gets every Christmas day from 10am until the next day. (Times could obviously be altered, but as an example.)

GoingWicked's picture

I think you're setting yourself up to have a spoiled rotten child.  As far as I'm concerned, if DH wants to do all the work himself to make it happen, why worry?  I wouldn't lift a finger, and I wouldn't participate in it.  Santa doesn't visit our house when SD is not here.  It's too much work finding all the little gifts to fit in the stocking (and I'm the one that does it - DH doesn't care).  She's usually here in the afternoon, and I pack her stuff in a gift bag, so she can easily open it with little mess.  BM however does do Santa when SD isn't there, probably because of guilt.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

I don’t want my Stepbrat here at Xmas morning/day. Stepbrat will have to open his stupid presents on Xmas eve and then DH must have stepbrat back to BM’s. No picking up on Xmas day.