I realize some Christians avoid the Santa game all together. Other Christians may choose to participate in the fun.
Our family chose to enjoy pretending about Santa, but always intentionally emphasizing throughout the season the true reason we celebrate, even using the tangible traditions to teach intangible truths.
A very Godly lady told us when our children were very small, “Don’t make your children so different from the world that the world doesn’t want what you have.” We have heeded that advice through the years and applied it in numerous situations, always trying to find things we could participate in with those that might not believe as we do, thus having an opportunity to interact with them.
To give further credence to this thought, an old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.
We taught the true story of a man named Nicholas who gave gifts because he loved Jesus with all his heart. A great children’s book about the history of Santa Claus is Santa, Are You For Real? by Harold Myra.
Check Train Up The Child for ways to relate the real Reason for the Season to traditional seasonal objects. Just search on the site for ‘Christmas’, ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’, or for a traditional object (ex. Santa, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, etc.)