Choosing when to tell your kids the truth about Santa is a parenting rite of passage which none of us can avoid.
But how do you know when the time is right to tell the kids about Santa? If you decide to wait until they start asking whether Santa is real, then you run the risk of them hearing the truth about Santa from some loud-mouthed kid in the playground before you've had the chance to even get your story straight.
But break the truth about Santa too early, and there's equally the chance your child will end up being that blabbermouth who spoils the fun for all the other kids.
'Mummy, Is Santa Real?' is a question every parent dreads, but it's certainly not as bad as picking up the pieces when your kid's sense of Santa wonder has been quashed by someone else.
But playground blabbermouths are the least of our worries when it comes to our kids finding out the truth about Santa - according to research cited by HideMyAss.com (from whom you can download a piece of software that hides online information that could give the game up on Santa) more than a quarter of children (3.3 million, to be exact) say they stopped believing in Santa Claus because of something they read on the internet.
Of the kids surveyed who were born between 1997 and 2013, 26% (3.37 million) have had their belief in Santa ended by the internet. Online ads, in particular, are giving away the truth about Santa - some 47% of children sussed the truth about Santa after seeing ads online for the items they'd written to ask Santa to bring from his workshop in Lapland.
What's more, 35% of the kids surveyed said they stopped believing in Santa after seeing their parents shopping online for Christmas presents. So it's no surprise to learn that almost two thirds (61%) of parents polled said they never delete their search history or log out of online shopping accounts during Christmas. (I'm sorry but: Fools.)
The average age that kids stop believing in Santa has reduced by 14.4% from 7 years and 10 months to 6 and 11 months. The surveyed kids' parents stopped believing in Santa on average at 8 years and 7 months – a 19% reduction between the generations.
Quite frankly, having my kids stumble across the truth about Santa on the internet is absolutely the least of my worries when it comes to what they're exposed to online, but I get that having your baby's Santa bubble burst is something we'd all like to avoid.
Uselessly, I have no helpful advice to offer on this topic, on account of the fact that my eldest sussed the truth about Santa years ago. Something about him noticing that I used the same wrapping paper to wrap presents as Santa did for the ones in the kids' stockings. It was a rookie mistake but we swore my son to secrecy and he's actually always loved being the one in the know, who can play along with the fun for the sake of younger friends and siblings.
So since I've got no useful tips to share, we'd love to hear your thoughts about when to tell kids the truth about Santa. How's it all going to shake down in your house when it comes to dispelling the Santa story, and what age do you think is the right age to break the news about Santa? Come and tell us over on our Facebook page.