This year is definitely the year of the Santa tracker app. After, all, even the biggest Santa fans among us know that while he is vaccinated (so don’t worry kids) we want to keep him safe — and him, us. So we’re avoiding the mall and turning to some terrific tech in the form of Santa tracker apps, and other ways to connect with St. Nick over your laptop or phone.
Since we’ve tried tons of Christmas apps over the years (like, tons), we know that good Santa tracker apps can be hard to find. So here are just 5 that we think kids will love, to help keep tabs on him — and maybe even get to know him better.
If only over Zoom. You know, the same way we see half the people in our lives these days. 2021, whoo.
Related: Games to play with faraway friends and family over Zoom this holiday season
5 favorite Santa Tracker Apps and Sites for Christmas
Portable North Pole app
Wow, has the Portable North Pole come a long way since we first covered it back in 2012! The original customized, interactive Santa “visit” experience has always impressed us, but now there’s a full app (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon App Store) that you can use with more features than are available just through the Portable North Pole website.
Definitely take advantage of the free mini-video trial you can get through the app to check it out. Then, for a $14.99 Magic Pass (5% of all purchases go to a children’s hospital in your community) you get unlimited access to well-produced premium videos and calls for unlimited kids, plus actual calls from Santa or face-to-face video! How does he know so much about your kids? Well, with a little help from parents answering a few questions and sending in a photo or two to get everything set up.
It really is so well done, that even non-believers will find it pretty magical.
You can also schedule single videos in the $4.99-5.99 range but then you’ll miss some great features like a recorder to capture your kid’s reaction live. Lots of great stuff to explore — and the 1080 HD download lets you keep the videos, too.
The coolest part is that Christmas Eve, kids will get a call from Santa reassuring them that he’s on his way. How’s that for a Santa tracker app that proves his existence?
During these times of zero predictability, I imagine it will go an extra long way toward helping them get to bed that night. (In fact, there’s even a video just to tell kids to get to sleep so he can come!)
Google’s Santa Tracker App and Santa Village
Each year, Google puts out an irrefutably adorable “Santa’s Village” microsite with lots of fun games, charming animations, engaging activities, mini quizzes, and educational zones so you can learn about the geography Santa encounters along his route, or learn how to deliver all kinds of happy holiday wishes in different languages.
On the top right, you can see the Christmas countdown tracker, should you not already have a timer set.
Come back to Santa’s Village on December 24, and the whole Village transforms into a Santa tracker app experience to help kids follow Santa and his reindeer for their 25-hour gift-delivery journey — starting at 5 A.M. EST.
That would be 10PM local in Eastern Russia. And you might know that if you tried the geography quiz.
Related: How to add a holiday aesthetic to your iPhone: 3 easy ways
NORAD Santa Tracker App
Of course the NORAD Santa Tracker will always have a place in our heart, because science + magic? That’s everything.
The aerospace pros who keep our airways safe, also keep tabs on Santa using their precise military defense system. (Well, kind.) On the site you can track Santa, play games, hear holiday tunes, and learn about lots of stuff including how NORAD tracks Santa, who started the tradition back in 1955, and even get answers to common kid questions.
In other words, if you don’t have a good answer to How does Santa get down Chimneys? Or How much does the sleigh weigh at takeoff with all those gifts? Fear not — pass that right onto NORAD and they’ve got you.
You can also download the NORAD Santa Tracker app from iTunes or Google Play; and bonus, if you don’t have good WiFi coverage on Christmas Eve, just call (877) HI-NORAD for a minute-by-minute check-in on where Santa might be.
Alexa Santa Tracker
If your kids are fans of asking Alexa…well, everything, you’re in luck: There’s a whole range of Alexa Santa Skills that get nice reviews. From a simple, Alexa, ask Santa if I’m Naughty or Nice to the hilarious (to a kid) Santa Claus Poops which remixes poop humor with holiday music, you’ll have a grand old time with any Amazon Echo or Echo Dot device.
But our recommendation: Alexa, ask Santa Tracker to Track Santa. You’ll find out just where the Man with the Bag is at that very moment, without having to log onto a screen for a Santa Tracker app — perfect for the moment you’ve closed the cover on Twas the Night Before Christmas and tucked the kids in for the night.
Hopefully for the last time.
Related: 15 Amazon Echo skills for the holidays, from fun and festive to really helpful
Jingle Kringle Texts from Santa
Want to keep things (relatively) low-tech? No problem. Sign up at Jingle Kringle for those important updates on Santa’s location via text on a set schedule so you can prepare for contact. If that’s not enough to satisfy your kids, you can call Santa via his phone number that he shares right on the site.
This service is part of a huge network of other online Santa Tracker apps and Christmas activity sites that have been around for ages (1991!) so it’s worth clicking over to see if any feel right for you. I’m just glad to know that the Kringle Texts are commercial-free, family-friendly, and your info is never shared or sold.
That would definitely put them on the naughty list.