Santa can't do it all -- he's only one magic man -- so parents often supplement the surprises, going to great lengths to maintain the Santa mystique as long as possible. Here are a few more stories:

  • From Pat Gerard, Santa Clara

    "The grandparents lived in Napa, we lived in Santa Clara, we also had a Napa friend living in San Jose. So our Santa presents had to get from here to there without being seen. We bought Christmas paper that was different from what the rest of our packages were wrapped in, wrapped all the Santa gifts, told the kids they were from our San Jose friends and we were going to take them to Napa for them as they couldn't go for Christmas. Christmas Eve after the kids were in bed, we unwrapped all Santa's gifts, got rid of the paper and put the gifts under the tree. So Santa came, and the "Napa people" always came to collect their gifts after the kids went to bed. It worked until they made life easier for us and quit believing in Santa Claus. They told me the day after Christmas they didn't believe anymore. When I asked why they didn't tell me before Christmas they said they didn't want me to be sad.

    (CHUCK TODD / BAY AREA NEWS GROUP)

  • From Lindy Pearring, Martinez

    My family had an usual tradition when it came to keeping the Santa Claus Mystique alive. My parents told us that Santa brought our tree, and it would mysteriously show up in our living room sometime after the 16th of December every year. My Dad would leave early in the evening on some errand, and he and my older brothers would go and pick out the tree. They would bring it back to the house and hide it on the side of the house until it was dark and they were sure that the little ones wouldn't wake up. As we got older in the family, (seven children), we would stay up late and help decorate the tree for the younger ones to get the surprise in the morning. Our neighbors were always in awe of the fact that Santa brought our tree, it made us feel very special. Santa would also come back sometime after the new year and take the tree down. My parents did a really terrific job of sharing Santa with us and giving us a magical childhood.

  • From Alma DeMange, Antioch.

    Every year we get to pick out a new ornament for the tree. My daughter, who is 9 -- two years ago, she picked out a gumdrop and a lollipop ornament, but I said she could only have one and that maybe we could find it the next year. Well, we couldn't find the gumdrop again. So she asked Santa for that particular ornament. Santa couldn't quite deliver either. The next year, she had still never forgotten this ornament. So Santa worked very hard to find it and finally found one in a different color. This was a white gumdrop, and it came with a note from Santa saying, "Oh sorry, we ran out of purple at the workshop. But this one's really special just for you."

    Contact Angela Hill at ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com, read her Sunday Give 'Em Hill column, or follow her on Twitter @giveemhill.