Santa and his elves go online to bring Christmas cheer from the North Pole

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It’s a Merry Clickmas as Santa goes online from the North Pole.

Father Christmas and his helpers are elf-isolating meaning many grottos are shut due to Covid-19.

But the big man is trying to talk to as many children as possible by zoom, phone and on video calls and he has this year recruited lots of ‘Santa’s Santa’s’ to help him get through the millions of kids desperate to relate their Christmas list.

We were lucky enough to test drive Santa’s online with some of our writer’s children – and here are the results.

SANTA ON ZOOM

What you get: A 15 minute zoom call with Santa for £12 or a 20 minute one with up to four siblings for £18. Kids can send him their letters over email and he’s happy to read them out. You can also ask for a recording of the magical moment. Father Christmas will ask you to send some important details about your child prior to their chat.

Santa’s ‘visit’: Eleven-year-old Theo and Nathan, nine, weren’t at all phased by seeing Santa on the laptop instead of in person and the youngest was very excited.

Santa was very enthusiastic and had definitely done his research into Nintendo games both boys are hoping to see under the tree.

It wasn’t an easy gig as Theo asked him all about Krampus, the half-goat, half demon festive character from Austro-Bavarian folklore. They also asked if they knew his name was an anagram of Satan (leaving mum red-faced). But Santa took it all in his stride.

He was happy to embrace the kids sense of fun with a joke about Pokemon. Perfect for children young and old.

Theo said: “He was very traditional and was really interested in us.”

Nathan said: “I really liked his joke about Pokemon.”

Value for money *

Authenticity: *

Fun Factor: ****

Kids score: *

OVERALL 19/20

SANTAHQ

What you get: A 32 day festive downloadable adventure, led by Elf Greenhorn, with daily content including Christmas videos, sing-along, stories, crafts and challenges costs £10. A one-to-one call with Santa will cost £20 extra.

Santa’s ‘visit’: He really was a very jolly Santa with a great sense of humour who had the kids in peels of laughter. When the reindeers got hungry he chucked carrots at all of them and made the children promise to get out late on Christmas morning and make the grown ups a cup of tea (fat chance!) A very polished performance.

It wasn’t a surprise that he was so jovial given the visit was organised by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in conjunction with the Ministry of Fun, in conjunction with digital agency PRISM. Great for bigger children and small kids with a sense of mischief.

Theo said: “He was very good and very enthusiastic and very, very funny.”

Nathan: “He was very jokey and it felt a bit strange Santa being funny.”

Value for money: ****

Authenticity: ****

Fun Factor: *

Kids score: ***

TOTAL: 17/20

SANTAS CALLING YOU

WHAT YOU GET: A live video chat from Santa for £24.99 or £35.99 the week before Christmas. (£39.99 on Christmas Eve) Santa can also read a book for £9.99

SANTA’S ‘VISIT’: This is as closest as the kids will get to a traditional grotto visit if you add in the storybook option. You couldn’t hear a pin drop as he read a story about an elf.

A joyous Santa who gave the kids tips on how to prepare the house for his visit and how to give the reindeers a treat. The background wasn’t as convincing as Santa relied on a bit of technical magic for his background. After an email from mummy, Father Christmas was able to convince the boys to get out for walks at the weekend instead of sitting playing computer games!

Theo said: “I liked it when he got out his handsanta-izer.”

Nathan said: “He looked very kind and seemed very lovely.”

Value for money: ****

Authenticity: ****

Fun Factor: ****

Kids score: *

TOTAL: 17/20

PORTABLE NORTH POLE

WHAT YOU GET: For £12.99 you get 18 Premium videos which Santa has prerecorded and mums and dads can load up their children’s names and pictures for inclusion. You also get 32 phone call scenarios and even Santa messages for adults.

SANTA’S ‘VISIT’: You have to upload details and pictures to Father Christmas’ special website before you play videos or get calls. The video message was pretty high spec, with a few nice touches, like six-year-old Ollie, and three-year-old Finley’s, names printed on a special Santa book. Their photos and ages also appeared inside an icy cave. Seeing some sparkles and their personal details was “cool” as Ollie put it. They were 100 per cent onboard with Santa but it’s not interactive so they couldn’t chat to Santa. You can road test it by trying out a short video for free on the website.

Value for money: ***

Authenticity: ****

Fun Factor ***

Kids score *

TOTAL: 15/20

OVERALL VERDICT: The kids were all just happy to see Santa this year. The Portable North Pole is a great option if you don’t want to spend much or you can go all out with Santa’s Calling You and include a magical story suited to little ones.

When it comes to the winner, it seems kids really do prefer a more serious Santa to a humorous one, which just goes to show that the Christmas tradition lives on.