Children and adults across America know the feeling of grabbing a plate full of gingerbread men or snowflake sugar cookies and a tall glass of cold milk and setting them near the Christmas tree before heading to bed on Christmas Eve. The next morning, excitement runs through you as you observe the empty plate and half-full glass of milk signifying that Santa had stopped by, and that he had left presents in return. But how did this tradition of leaving milk and cookies for Santa begin?
There’s actually a simple reason behind it. The act of leaving a treat out for Santa was born during the Great Depression as a lesson from parents to children on giving. Leaving cookies and milk for Santa also doubled as a sign of appreciation and show of gratitude for the gifts the children received even while America was going through economic hardship.
Nearly a century later, this American Christmas tradition hasn’t been forgotten. But other countries have different ways to welcome Santa into their homes. Instead of milk, pints of Guinness are left out for Santa during his stops in Ireland. Meanwhile, in France, children leave out wine and even stuff hay and carrots in their shoes for the reindeer. Australian and British children leave out mince pies as well as cookies and milk.
You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to continue this tradition. Here are the top store-bought chocolate chip cookies you can leave out for Santa this Christmas.