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hey there! I'm monica 

I pride myself on making amazing style and design accessible for everyone, regardless of location, budget, or ability! My design philosophy is rooted in authenticity + attainability - If I can do it, you can too! My work has been featured in countless publications, but I take the most pride in homeowners that have been personally inspired by my DIY ideas and have tried something in their own homes!

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 If your kids are around, don’t read this post right now… Top Secret information will be shared.  Scroll down to read the post once no children are in sight.







Santa… a hotly debated topic among many.  Does the man in red take away from the real meaning of Christmas? Does it damage children to not be truthful? How long do you let them believe? etc…  Here in the Mangin household we fully embrace Santa and I go on record saying that I think I’m one of the best Santa-Moms around.  I take this very seriously. Eric knows not to even utter a word about stockings, Christmas lists, or anything of the like within a 5 mile radius of our home. Even if the kids are sleeping- I’m crazy about it.

But, what about when the time has come to reveal the true identity of Santa? For us, that time came last year for our oldest daughter and I wanted to be sure that “The Santa Talk” went just right.  I think I put more thought into The Santa Talk than I did for The Birds and the Bees Talk (I could post about that one, but it might be a tad awkward and then your kid might end up in therapy with mine! lol)  I decided to share how it all went down, because I honestly believe that Kenzie’s Santa Experience is something she’ll always remember, and hopefully something that helped her develop a spirit of giving, and moved her a step closer to really understanding the true meaning of Christmas.

Talking about Santa

For me being Santa has been one of the most exciting and special experiences I’ve been able to have.  If you know me at all, you know that I’m known for being non-emotional and completely not touchy feely, but the thought of having to have the Santa Talk with Makenzie actually had me in tears (yup, I cried last year and I’m not sure I have since then!) I think I cried for 2 reasons… #1 It’s the end of a parenting phase and for me it was a special one. #2 It was my chance and responsibility to teach my daughter about selfless giving, Christ-like giving, and I hoped I’d done it well.

Makenzie is a lot like me, so I knew she wouldn’t want to sit and have a semi-awkward talk where I might have shed a tear or two, so instead I wrote her a letter.  Every year Santa writes each of our kids a letter.  He always uses the same weathered parchment-like paper, the same font, and the same picture.   This year Kenzie’s letter came before Christmas and was different from all the rest…

Santa Letter

So it wasn’t anything earth shattering, but Kenzie came out of her room after reading it, she had slightly watery eyes (which of course I pretended not to notice) and she gave me the most heartfelt thank you that she’s ever given.  Santa gets a bad rap (or wrap- lol Get it?!?) by many, but for me, he was a tool that was able to teach my daughter about giving, selflessness, God’s love, and even how to believe in a little magic.  Who knows, maybe she will be in therapy one day complaining about her mom’s Santa trickery, but I’m thinking her Santa experience will be something she can always look back on and happily remember that her mom and her Heavenly Father love her a whole lot.

This year I’m so excited to have her partner with me to make sure things are done just right for the other 3 kids.  It will be neat to have Kenzie giving me ideas for her siblings and working to make sure it’s special for them.  I have a feeling that it’s the last Christmas for Kaden believing, so I’m going to enjoy every minute of it!

** Here are a few basic rules from a Stealth Santa Mom…***

1- Never talk about buying “stocking stuffers” duh! Santa buys those! That one drives me nuts, I hear it all the time.

2- Talk to your kids’ grandparents ahead of time and lay down some ground rules… Ex: No signing presents as Santa (that’s only for at home), no pretending he came to their house for the kids too.  Keep it simple- makes it a lot easier.

3- If you leave carrots for the reindeer, bite them but don’t let it look human, leave just a bit.  I may or may not also chew up a bit and leave some tiny bits (it looks authentic!)

4- This one is important- never let them see the Santa wrapping paper- Ever! If he wraps in the same paper your kids saw you buy at COSTCO… busted!

5- Always write your kids’ a letter from Santa and use it as a tool to remind them about the Real meaning of Christmas.  At this age, they’re probably too young to conceptualize salvation and redemption, but it can still plant seeds of truth for them.

So if you do or did Santa, I’d love to know how The Santa Talk went down in your house and I’d love to know what little things you did to make Santa special for your kids!

The comments +

  1. Brittany says:

    Perfect timing, my oldest is 7 and i am feeling the time is near. What a sweet letter, i almost cried thinking of my little girl too!! I will probably have to write in a stipulation for her to keep quiet for her younger brothers. I totally told me younger siblings when i found out because it just blew my mind! I totally didnt know i was supposed to keep it to my 8 yr old self. I got in trouble for that one;)

  2. Kristy says:

    Oh my. You’re obviously a great mom (and Santa!) but I very much disagree about picking when to clue the kiddos into the Santa thing! Don’t take that the wrong way – whatever works for your family is great, but I’m firmly in the camp of letting them figure it out themselves. Why cut the magic short?

    • Monica says:

      Hey Kristy! Thanks for your comment! I actually didn’t tell Kenzie until she was really peppering me with questions. She actually made it all the way to 10 1/2 before I finally had the talk. I let it last as long as possible!! 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  3. Christa says:

    Great advice. I’ve just pinned this so I can use it someday with my youngest. My oldest has Asperger’s and never believed in Santa so he’s been helping me keep the secret for a while. This is a good way to explain everything and make it fun too.

  4. Rene says:

    Until the day my mother died at 64 years of age, it was never allowed to ever discuss or have thoughts that Santa didn’t exist. We never had a Santa talk and even the adults received packages from Santa. I always associated that giving (Santa) with God’s love for each of us. It wasn’t the price or the size of the gift, it was the fit of the gift for each personality that always reinforced love. The spirit of giving from the heart is something that I hope I can continue until my last breath. Have a joyful Christmas season!

    • Monica says:

      That’s awesome Rene and really special for you to have those memories!! I’m sure you’re an awesome Santa yourself!! Merry Christmas!

  5. Laura says:

    Well this made me turn into a little puddle of tears. Really well done, Santa-Mom. I like how Ma explained Santa to Laura and Mary in the Little House books. She talked about the spirit of giving, and Santa being in everybody a little bit. (when the girls started to question).

    My husband and I didn’t teach our kids about Santa, but they still got a family gift from him every year. And they were warned very seriously not to give up the secret with their school friends! I don’t think they were harmed at all by knowing the truth all along. Christmas has always been a huge deal in our house, even during lean times.

    But I love how you’re doing this, too.


    • Monica says:

      I so appreciate moms that talk to their kids about not giving it away for believing kids. I love that everyone can do it how it fits for their family! Merry Christmas Laura!

  6. Hilarie says:

    I absolutely LOVE this. We were in the “No Santa” camp for a while, but when three step-kids who firmly believe entered our lives, my adult daughters stepped in to help keep the magic alive in the hearts of the little ones (and to question why I never did this with them). I certainly underestimated the ability of kids to understand more than one part of Christmas. I’m sure my older girls were never harmed by not believing in Santa, but I know that we missed so many occasions for magical, wonderful fun. I think your letter ties both sides together so well. Great job!

    • Monica says:

      Thanks Hilarie! It’s neat that you get a round 2 and get to enjoy the magic and that your daughters get to help along the way! Merry Christmas!! 🙂

  7. Amy says:

    Thank you for writing this!!! All I read on blogs these days is about how Santa is lying to your kids or taking the true meaning off Christmas….which I don’t believe. Santa is just plain ol’ gift-giving, magical fun for us! We all enjoy Santa and my oldest is 10….I’m saving your letter so I can base my own Santa letter off of it some day!

  8. Heather D says:

    I loved reading this and everyone’s responses. I figured out that my sweet mama was Santa Claus when I was in 5th grade. I was one of the only kids my age who still believed, so it was time! I figured it out when I compared the handwriting on my gifts to my Mom’s. Plus, she got us these cute little notepads that my grandma also mysteriously received. I collected post-Christmas evidence for a week or so, then popped the question. My poor mama cried. She felt bad. I felt like a grown up!! I remember running back down the hall to my parents bedroom that night after we’d all turned in and whispered so my sister wouldn’t hear “Does that mean the Easter Bunny is you,too?!?” I was practically a 10 year old Sherlock Holmes.

    • Monica says:

      Heather, your comment had me laughing!! I love that you “collected evidence” That’s awesome!! It sounds like your mom was top notch in the Santa department!! Merry Christmas!

  9. cheryl says:

    I love your letter. While I was not brought up to believe in Santa Claus and didn’t bring my kids up that way either this has never been an issue with us. Being raised that way I never felt that it took away from the magic of Christmas. We still had Santa decorations and watched Santa movies but just knew that it was just a cute story. I will tell you my sister-in-law was raised believing in Santa and when her parents told her the truth she was very angry and does not like Christmas. I guess in telling them there is a Santa there is always that chance that they will be angry.
    We also celebrate Christ’s birth and try to bring out the real meaning of Christmas while celebrating.

    • Monica says:

      Hey Cheryl- I think it’s awesome that so many people do it all so differently. In my opinion, as long as Christmas is focused on Jesus’ birth then it will be an amazing holiday!! Hope yours is wonderful!

  10. Danielle says:

    I actually cried.. My husband is teasing me at this point!
    I love everything about the Santa talk. My sons only 2.. And I’ve been thinking a lot about how to teach Santa on the same day we’re teaching someone else we can’t meet/see, Jesus.

    So thanks! I’m so excited to write my first Santa letter this year!

  11. Amanda says:

    I loves our letter. I cried all the way through it, because I’m a sappy baby. My daughter has never been convinced of Santa’s existence but she loves her silly elf on a shelf. She totally believes that thing is real. I might edit the letter and use it for the elf when the time comes.

  12. Carol Bedford says:

    I dont even remember when i had “the Santa talk” for my girls,,,, I know it was quite late in age. They did all the santa investigating and looking for evidence. Finally when they were each pretty sure they figured it all out I started getting the questions. The explainations I used was that there is a santa,,,,,,,,,,, but he isnt his own seperate person. He was the feeling of christmas. And that he was very much alive in so many people. I said it was one of the many responsibilities of being a grown up. I said is there a jolly old guy in a red suit with a big white beard ? ,,,,, well not really but as a grown up it was our job to bring santa alive for our children,,, and even sometimes the children of others. It was a special responsibility to be entrusted with our santa job,,, almost as special as being a parent. So maybe they think they had it all figured out,,,, but they didnt,,,,, they had just begun to learn about santa,,, and having the special job of being santa. I told them Santa was alive,,, in so many parents, grand parents and even some strangers. Because santa wasnt about the who,,,, it was about bringing so much joy to a child on christmas morning. Sometimes it was for your own children,,,,maybe a child in the family,, and sometimes it was for children you didnt even know. It was about doing all the things that make santa who he is,,,, being santa is about finding the exact present a child is asking for,,, or the perfect one u know will make them glow with happiness when they open it. it is about making someone happy without expecting a thank you,,, or recognition for having found the perfect gift. it was about that smile on christmas morning,,,,

    of course then i had to fill them in on the specifics of the Santa job,,,, and how now that they were old enough they were finally really finding out the true meaning of santa,,, they shouldnt be sad,,, because other than being a parent,,, the santa job was one of the greatest joys of being a grown up.

    • Monica says:

      Carol- I LOVE your approach and I love that you take it as an honor and special job like I do! Great job sharing it with your kids!! 🙂

  13. Mary says:

    I have a MacKenzie too. She is 10 1/2 this year and still believes, but I know time is running out. I loved your letter and had to tell you, my daughter’s pet name is Kenzie girl too!

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