While we can’t explain the science behind Santa’s precarious landing on your roof, we can offer a few ways to find out how and when he gets there. This year, when your kids ask you about the big guy’s arrival, you’ll have an answer—show them one (or all!) of the following apps and websites so that they can track his route around the globe. From the classic NORAD to yet another way to maximize your new Alexa, technology + the holiday season = MAGIC. Keep reading to see them all.
photo: Matti Mattila via Flickr
Since 1958, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has fielded calls and emails from around the world to keep curious children (and adults) informed about Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve. Fifteen hundred volunteers staff telephones and computers to answer calls and live updates are provided through the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site (in seven languages), over telephone lines, and by email. This year, you can also follow @noradsanta on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube! Find out more: noradsanta.org
2. Google Maps Santa Tracker
On Christmas Eve, Google Maps Santa Tracker will showcase Santa’s dashboard: the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey making the most important of deliveries! Families can follow Santa’s progress and even learn a little about some of his stops. Starting December 1st, use the site to explore Santa’s village, engage in some activities, and meet a few of his elves. Find out more: santatracker.google.com
photo: Matthew Paulson via Flickr
3. Santa Update
Santa Update is for those who can’t wait a minute longer for the holiday hype: you can already keep abreast of Santa’s work by reading the site’s daily blog, which chronicles newsworthy happenings like recent improvements in wrapping technology, the Elf Parade, the local light decorating contest, and efforts to test fly Santa’s new sleigh. The site is bursting with creative links and thoughtful details that will show your kiddos how committed the North Pole team is to preparing for Christmas and making their deliveries. Find out more: santaupdate.com
4. Email Santa
Although the primary activity on the Email Santa website is—you guessed it—emailing Santa (fill-in-the-blank letters with near-immediate responses are available for the impatient!), you can also track his whereabouts, watch the countdown to Christmas Day, view “live texting” between Santa and his elf squad on Christmas Eve, watch “live tweets” between Santa and Mrs. Claus, read Santa’s blog, laugh (or groan) at elf jokes, watch Christmas webcams from around the world, and oodles more. Your pet can even email Rudolph. Find out more: emailsanta.com
Starting Christmas Eve, create a little more suspense with help a piece of technology you’re probably underusing: Alexa! Start by asking her to open KAYAK. Then use KAYAK to ask various questions, such as: “Alexa, ask KAYAK to track Santa,” “Alexa, ask KAYAK when Santa will be here,” or, “Alexa, ask KAYAK when Santa will be in Minneapolis.” If you’ll be on the road during the holidays and won’t have your Alexa with you, be sure to download one of the many apps that let you use Alexa from your phone! Find out more: kayak.com/track-santa
6. Santa Video Call and Tracker App
The Santa Video Call and Tracker app, available for iOS devices, purports to be the “only Santa Video Call app with varied and customizable conversation options.” When you purchase the full version, Santa will even call your child by her name and knows (thanks to you) her age, month of birth, where she lives, her interests, and recent life events (at least, as much as you’d like to share!). The app’s Santa Tracker locates the big guy in red within an “Elfiish Micrometer,” children can send Santa on test flights and zoom in and out on the three-dimensional globe as they watch Santa on the big night. Find out more: itunes.com/santavideocallandtracker
photo: Welsh Photographs via Flickr
7. Santa’s Hotline from Freeconferencecall.com
For the past eight years, FreeConferenceCall.com has run “Santa’s Hotline” for kids around the world to call Santa and share their holiday wishes on his North Pole voicemail. Children in the United States can reach Santa Claus—and delight at the jolly, “Ho, ho, ho!” in his voicemail message—at (319) 527-2680, and little ones in 13 other countries can dial in, too. More than 10 million children called Santa’s Hotline last year alone!
8. Portable North Pole
The Portable North Pole‘s website and mobile app let creative (but maybe a little technology-challenged) parents like yourself create customized Santa greetings on video to awe and excite your wee ones. With a few screen taps, answer questions about your child (or children—Santa can address your kids individually or as a group!) and upload some favorite pictures to create a charming message from St. Nick that arrives by email. Find out more: portablenorthpole.com
Will you track Santa this year? Share your thoughts in a Comment below!
— Katie Brown