This Is What Kids Leave for Santa on Christmas Eve Around the World

Santa Claus receives lots of gifts of his own on Christmas Eve!

After takeoff from the North Pole with his trusty reindeer, Santa Claus has his work cut out for him. Somehow he manages to deliver our favorite gifts to millions of homes, all on the night before Christmas.

In return for his hard work, he is usually rewarded with a variety of refreshments. Here are some traditional gifts that kids set out for Santa around the world.

No matter where in the world you are, your kids can also watch Santa live at the North Pole.

What Is Traditionally Left Out for Santa?

United States

American boys and girls leave milk and cookies for Santa Claus, like our Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies.

Knit stockings are hung on the fireplace for Santa to stuff with small gifts—or coal for the naughty children—before he ascends back up the chimney.


On Christmas Eve, German children write handwritten letters to the Christkind, a gift-bearing angel that represents the Spirit of Christmas. On Christmas morning, the letters are gone and replaced with gifts. Get in the holiday spirit with traditional German Christmas foods.


Danish tots gift Santa with a filling bowl of rice pudding, or risengrod. According to legend, there may be trouble if someone forgets to leave it out for him. You’ll want to try your hand at some of these rice pudding recipes, straight from Grandma’s kitchen.


English families leave Santa Claus (also known as Father Christmas) a glass of sherry and a slice of mince pie to warm up on Christmas Eve.


Argentinian children leave their shoes outside their front doors, in hopes of finding them filled with presents. They are also known to thoughtfully leave out some water and hay for Santa’s reindeer.


Italian children await Babbo Natale to bring presents on Christmas Eve while they sleep. Another tradition involves La Befana, an old lady who delivers gifts to boys and girls on Epiphany, which falls on January 6. The kids hang stockings by the fireplace for Befana to fill. Panettone, a sweet bread, is left as a treat. Our Black Forest Panettone Pudding will have you saying Buon Natale!

Find more unusual Christmas traditions you’ve never heard of.


In Sweden, Christmas presents are delivered by Tomten (which means “the Gnomes”). The tradition in Sweden is to leave porridge like this with a generous pat of butter in it. This started with farmers leaving a bowl of hot porridge with expensive butter as a reward for the gnomes’ hard work on the farm during the year, one Taste of Home reader tells us.

Some Swedish children also leave out a hot cup of coffee to help keep Santa awake for the rest of his journey. By the way, there’s a reason Scandinavian coffee tastes so good—find out the secret ingredient.


In Ireland, kids leave out mince pies and pints of Guinness for Santa. He may not want to leave the house to finish his rounds! You may not want to either, after you try our Chocolate Guinness Cake.


Pere Noel receives biscuits when he arrives at French families’ homes. Here are some traditional French Christmas recipes to prepare.


Australian children set out cookies for Santa, but instead of milk, they leave him an ice-cold glass of beer. After all, December is summer in the land Down Under. The children leave carrots for Santa’s reindeer to munch on, too.

Traditional Cookies to Leave Out for Santa
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Ceara Milligan
Ceara “Kiwi” Milligan is a professional marketing strategist and copywriter who is proud to call Milwaukee home. She loves baking, cooking, writing, listening to music, dancing, playing and hosting trivia, watching college basketball (Go Marquette!), telling lame jokes, and petting every dog that crosses her path.