In Spain, in addition to our traditional American Santa Claus, we also had our caga tio (http://megustatuzapatos.blogspot.nl/2010/12/our-new-catalan-christmas-traditions.html) who would "poop" presents for them on Christmas Eve, and the Three Kings. We didn't focus much on the Three Kings and didn't really push the kids to either since we already had Christmas and the caga tio.
But now that we are in the Netherlands, we've got Sinterklaas and he's not to be confused with Santa. As I mentioned in a previous post (http://megustatuzapatos.blogspot.nl/2014/11/the-tale-of-sinterklaas.html), he makes his appearance in November and then gives presents on December 5th before leaving on his birthday the next day. All children celebrate Sinterklaas and so our children were no exception.
We did keep things low key and tried to stick with tradition. They did not get a gift every night starting on November 16th (in fact, we didn't even tell them that Sinterklaas had arrived in the Netherlands until he arrived in Naarden on November 22nd). They got a small little something every few nights which focused on chocolate letters, chocolate coins, pepernoten and occasionally a small gifts under 5 euros.
Shoes out by the fireplace and they each received a chocolate letter
A morning where they got a small gift instead of chocolate
Rudolph the red nosed Liam
Finally the night of the 4th arrived and we told them to put out their shoe because it was the last night that Sinterklaas would be making his deliveries before heading back to Spain. They were both shocked to not only receive more than one gift, but bigger than what they had received over the previous few weeks.
Gifts waiting to be opened on the 5th
Liam's big gift was a set of Minecraft legos and Aidan's was a talking Bender toy from Futurama
They both got a book
And a small toy under 5 euros
In addition to what they had at home, there was a celebration at school (where it was a half day). Kids up to Liam's age actually received gifts from Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet who came to the school. And those that were Aidan's age gave surprises (pronounced sur-preeze) - gifts that were under 5 euros that were kind of like a secret santa only you wrap it in very cool ways and write a poem about the recipient. Aidan wasn't as into it as I had hoped but he's still not totally embracing this tradition either - perhaps next year! To see some cool ideas, check them out on pinterest (Pinterest Sinterklaas Surprise)
We still kept it small and honestly took the items out of the already purchased stash of gifts that we bought for Christmas, but they'll never know. As far as they are concerned, they got more gifts this year by being in the Netherlands...though wait til their caga tio poops them out a trip to Spain... now that will be a moment worth watching!!