‘I work for Santa writing letters to kids – it’s the best job I’ve ever had’
Father Christmas couldn’t spread festive magic without his team of little helpers – and Louise Crockett, 35, from Winchester, Hampshire, is one of them.
Since giving her Mum the gift of a letter from Santa Claus himself when she was just a teenager, Louise has gone on to spread the Christmas cheer to hundreds of people across the country, including social media sensation Mrs Hinch.
Here, she tells us about her dream job as Santa’s PA…
“I watched across my cornflakes as Mum opened the envelope and a big smile spread across her face. “It’s another letter from Father Christmas,” she said, her eyes twinkling.
I was 18 and for the past four years, my mum Perry had received a handwritten note from her most favourite person in the world (other than her kids!).
She might have been a grown-up and responsible for buying our Christmas presents but she had never shaken off the belief that St Nick was the real deal.
Even when my brother Robert had tried to ruin the story for me, Mum’s insistence on his existence allowed me to ignore him and enjoy the magic.
Obviously, I knew deep down Robert was right. But sharing this myth with her was too special to let go. When I was 14, I decided I would get a letter from Father Christmas sent to Mum, as a surprise.
I tried buying one but found that all the ones on sale were identical and offered the same types of personalisation, like the recipient’s street name and best friend’s name.
I decided I could do better, so I secretly penned and posted a letter, from Santa, that was unique to Mum – and she loved it.
I didn’t let on that it was from me, allowing her to think that it must be from another family member or a friend.
The following year, I did it again and it became a tradition, with Mum insisting that Father Christmas really was behind the notes.
Over time, my letters became more sophisticated, featuring running jokes, and they were typed instead of me trying to disguise my handwriting.
When she was single, Mum used to ask for Hollywood actor Mel Gibson as her present. So in 2011, the year she got married, I sent a letter from Father Christmas to check that she no longer wanted to find Mel under the tree! That really made her chuckle.
My clients include celebs
Bringing so much joy to another person by doing something I found so easy to do was a great feeling. And as I gained my six nieces and nephews, I started writing letters for them, too, completely anonymously, so their parents had no idea either.
When I became a mum myself, I wrote letters not only for my own kids – Ellis is now six and Mary is three – but for the children in my NCT antenatal group.
It was great fun being a “secret Santa” but it wasn’t long before I was rumbled.
It was obvious that it had to be someone within our parenting group who was sending the letters. They were so personal and they were postmarked from the same area, so the other mums soon figured it out. “You should do this as a job,” they insisted. It was such a good idea. Who wouldn’t want to be Father Christmas’ PA? I already worked as a virtual assistant and knew the ropes, plus had lots of letter-writing experience.
Four years ago, I started A Magical Letter, writing letters for customers on top of my usual list for loved ones. The recipients weren’t just children but adults of all ages – and even some pets!
My clients, who include celebs, have been amazingly loyal, coming back each year, and I’ve written more than 400 letters to date.
One of my favourite recipients is a little girl who calls the big man Santa Christmas, while another boy is obsessed with capturing Santa and constantly coming up with plans.
I’ve also had to talk down a boy who wanted a tin with a specific autographed football card in it, telling him that not even Father Christmas can see inside the tins.
One especially moving letter was to a grown man whose mum had passed away a few Christmases before and had since been finding Christmas Day really hard. His wife thought a letter would make the season more bearable for him and I felt a huge amount of responsibility to get it right. I focused the contents on the magic of Christmas, only mentioning his mum near the end, saying how many lovely memories they had made and how many wonderful memories were yet to be created with his family.
The pet letters are much more humorous. I ask them to stay quiet when Father Christmas lands on the roof and not to eat his mince pie or the reindeers’ carrots.
If I am writing to a dog, I say how lovely it is when Santa flies over their favourite park – and remind them not to jump on the sofa with muddy paws.
I get to do big reveals
Every letter takes about half an hour and I start writing as soon as I open orders in October, because it gets very busy once we reach late November.
The letters are illustrated in a Nordic style and each one includes a wax seal, with envelopes addressed in calligraphy.
I collect all sorts of information before I write them, like achievements over the past year, any challenges they’ve faced, any new siblings or pets, plus more festive details, like their favourite Christmas book.
I also make sure that if they have allergies, or anything that makes them feel different, I write something positive about it.
I love hearing what the recipients have been up to since I last wrote and I keep a spreadsheet of the details to refer back to, so I can make my notes as personal as possible.
Often, I’m asked to reveal a big surprise in the letters – it might be that the children are going to visit Lapland or they’re off with their family on a trip of a lifetime to Disneyland.
My own children have no idea what I do and I have a special cupboard labelled “Mummy’s work things” that they know not to go near. I did reveal the secret to my mum when I started the business – but she didn’t believe me. “I know it is really Father Christmas who sends them,” she insisted.
I’m not going to argue, as the joy it gives her is priceless. And ultimately, that’s what Christmas is all about – giving to others and spreading happiness, whether you’re a magical figure known across the world or a mum secretly making that magic happen.
There’s something so special about encouraging children and adults to believe in the Father Christmas tradition and create memories they will treasure forever. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
Get organised for Christmas 2023 now and order a letter from Father Christmas’ PA at amagicalletter.com
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