Super-organized parents may have already ordered their child an “official” hard-copy, mailed letter from Santa from one of the many places that offers that service, but the rest of us (or indeed, those that shun snail mail) can have a more last-minute go via SaintNick.org. The site has a form where you enter the child’s name, age, location, how nice they’ve been, and their Christmas wish list. Once sent, an almost instantaneous letter from Santa will appear in your inbox which cleverly incorporates the data provided into a coherent, personalized letter to your little one from the big man himself.
If you’re struggling to explain to a youngster exactly how Santa knows whether they’ve been naughty or nice, why not just let Kris Kringle phrase the answer himself? You can ask the authentic-looking Virtual Santa a wealth of common questions that may be worrying kids, such as “Will you still come if I don’t have a chimney?” or “How do you travel around the world in just one night?” The on-screen Santa will give video answers delivered in a jolly manner. There’s also an option to ask Santa a question of your own, but we’d stick to the pre-set list, as it seems the elves’ A.I. programming for such user-generated questions is a little on the random side.
Aimed at younger children who will be susceptible to such trickery, this Santa-themed iPhone app simulates a phone call from the man in red and could have two applications. It can be used to generate some pre-Christmas magic for a child speaking to Santa before the big day, or it may be a handy tool to get naughty kids to behave.
There are three call options: 1. Santa praises the child for being on the good list with promises of Christmas surprises; 2. Santa issues a verbal warning for bad behavior; and 3. Santa suggests a lump of coal is en route unless they shape up soon. All are delivered in an “upbeat and positive” way, but you might want to pre-screen option three just to be sure you don’t traumatize the little tyke.
We’ve been watching this Finnish feed on and off for a little while now, hoping to catch “Santa” in some compromising position. So far though, Santa’s been nothing but professional, meeting and greeting kids in his comfortable home at the North Pole ably assisted by a couple of elves. The live webcam broadcasts during office hours, meaning you can tune in from anywhere in the world to see Santa in action between visitors. You’ll have to work out the time difference (it’s GMT+2) to catch Claus at work, but hopefully a live glimpse of Santa doing his thing will be worth it.
It’s an American Christmas tradition that’s gone global thanks to the web. Once a year since the 1950s, the North American Aerospace Defense Command turns its high-tech radar system towards the North Pole and follows Santa’s progress around the world as he delivers his present payload. To really get the kids hyped on Christmas Eve, you can go to the NORAD homepage and then track Santa’s journey thanks to a Google EarthGoogle Earth team-up. You can also catch some snaps from the strategically positioned Santa-cams that grab pics of Santa and his reindeer as he makes his way across the night sky. Good luck trying to get the kids off to sleep after that.