Santa's helpers are dashing across malls and hometown parades, eager to meet little children and learn their Christmas wishes while the elves are busy at the workshop at the North Pole. Your little ones needn't wait until the night before Christmas to hear a clatter, though – here are five ways to bring the magic of St. Nick into your home.

1) Santa's Hear Brings Him Here

This handy app lets you customize a script of Santa, record it in your voice, transform the recording to a different voice and then play it back for your children. It's just available for iPhones and iPads.

Pro tip: The transform function goes to a rather high pitch, so you could create messages from elves, reindeer or even Elf on the Shelf, if you've invited that time-consuming rascal into your home.

2) iCaughtSanta Does the Work For You

If your children require visual proof that Santa came even though your house doesn't have a chimney, there's an app for that. iCaughtSanta will let you use three "stickers" of Santa for free to create unlimited numbers of photographs of Santa inside or near your home.

Pro tip: In this program, Santa can be white, black or Hispanic.

3) Get a Free Letter From Santa

The website will let you pick a "letterhead," customize an age-appropriate template and download the letter to print yourself. It does require you to create an account with and shows you a few ads, but the letter itself is free.

Pro tip: The letter templates include options for children losing belief, Elf on the Shelf, naughty children and Santa apologizing for gifts being late. (No judgment here if you need to use the last one.)

Pro tip 2: The letter template for adults is mildly funny. You could polish it into something hilarious to send to your spouse, boss or someone else who enjoys playing Santa.

4) He'll Ring Right Up will let you choose among several recorded messages from Santa or an elf. You input a phone number, select the message and the phone rings almost immediately. Our caller ID claimed Santa was calling from San Diego, but who knows how his phone gets routed from the North Pole?

Pro tip: You get one free call, but the site allows you to place premium calls, which can be scheduled in advance. The elf recorded calls include an elf announcing his arrival and his departure.

5) Use special elves in Santa Claus, Indiana.

For more than a century, the special elves in Santa Claus, Indiana, have responded to all the mail sent to him there. They ask that each letter include a full name and full mailing address, and be sent to: P.O. Box 1, Santa Claus, IN 47579. All letters must be received by Dec. 20, 2018!

This small town offers a special Santa Claus postmark and tons of Christmas activities, too, all of which are detailed at

An idea for next year: The United States Postal Service offers a special North Pole postmark. You place your child's letter, plus a response you wrote yourself, into an envelope addressed to your child and stamp it. Then mail all that to:

North Pole Postmark Postmaster
4141 Postmark Drive
Anchorage, AK 99530-9998

All letters must be received in Alaska BY DEC. 15. The response will look something like this:

For full details, see the USPS' full instructions here.

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