Santa Claus is coming to town…but how???


Ever wondered how Santa fits all those presents in his sack and sleigh? Or how he delivers globally in just one night (FedEx eat your heart out!)? We surveyed 12 children and adults to find out their most burning questions when it comes to the elusive Man in Red. So here we put our design thinking caps on to propose answers to the top 6 questions as revealed by our survey.

  1. How does Santa fit down the chimney?

Many people think that Santa has a “round little belly that shook when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly”, but in actual fact he wears an inflatable suit that disguises the svelte form of a former Olympic athlete. From our research, the word is that Santa was once a gymnast and after his gymnastic career ended he became a contortionist and acrobat for Cirque du Soleil. His flexibility combined with a de-flatable suit means that he can fit through the smallest of spaces, from your chimney to the cat door. We also have it on good authority that Santa can deflate his suit to match the size of the chimney and help control his rate of descent to ensure a quiet landing.

  1. How does he fit all the presents in his sack?

This was a hard one to answer and generated much active discussion. As with many design problems, the solution was not obvious. After much debate two options became apparent: 1) the sleigh is in fact the original prototype for Dr Who’s Tardis, and therefore all the presents can easily fit in here. Santa then simply replenishes his sack with presents after each house call. This has the added benefit of reducing the likelihood of Santa sustaining a back injury due to an overloaded sack. Alternatively, Santa’s sack is like Mary Poppins’ bag that is endlessly deep and can carry an infinite amount of presents while appearing a perfectly normal size.

  1. How does he deliver to everyone in just one night?

The answer to this question has two parts – 8 svelte reindeer and a customized sleigh. According to our research, an interview between Santa and R.J. Watson (2006)1 revealed that Santa has developed a special reindeer feed that stimulates their ability to move exceptionally fast. The feed is made from a combination of “Austrian edelweiss, Canadian lichen, Norwegian oats, Finnish glacial milk, Russian bee pollen, Swedish cloudberries and solar flare”. Watson also reports that Santa has a customised sleigh called “Polaris which is comprised of high-tech and low-tech materials such as foam titanium and comet dust. It is also tricked out with electron injection and a little old gamma ray booster”.

  1. How do the elves get all the toys ready in time?

In the past when the population was less, it was quite easy for the elves to make all the toys themselves. However, with the ever increasing population, the elves have had to change their business model and now outsource part of their operations. The elves now partner with companies such as Amazon and FedEx to supplement in-house toy making. These online partnerships mean that there is less load for Santa to carry as he collects his parcels from designated collection points in each continent.

  1. How does he know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice?

All those Santas you see on every street corner and in every shopping centre are actually part of Santa’s franchisee network who all report back to him. The network expands exponentially during the festive season so that he can collect the needed intel on who’s been naughty and who’s been nice and what’s on everyone’s wish lists.

  1. What does he do with all the cookies and treats kids leave out for him?

While Santa and the reindeer strive for peak performance, they do also let their hair down a little and indulge in some treats from each continent. While Santa would love to share all the treats with the elves and Mrs Claus back home, the increasing incidence of allergic conditions among his elves, means that he is forced to graciously accept the offerings and then uses them to supplement the fuel of the Polaris during the journey.

rj-watson-elf-marblesSo, there you are – some of the burning Santa conundrums solved.

To all our clients, friends and supporters, a Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Scintilla will be closed from 19th December 2016 until 9th January 2017. We look forward to an even bigger and brighter 2017. And please stay safe.

1 C.C. Moore and R.J. Watson (2006) The Night Before Christmas, Harper Collins

All illustrations by Richard Jesse Watson from citation above. 

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Dorte Bell

Dorte brings over 10 years of design research, product design, design management and user centred design to Scintilla and has worked in a variety of industries including public sector, children’s products, gaming, medical, consumer, safety and technical market sectors. Dorte strives to place people at the heart of any design in order to create meaningful experiences that delight and encourage ongoing engagement. Underpinning her design approach is a strong research philosophy to truly understand the user and their context in order to reveal insights that drive sustainable solutions. Dorte also tutors design students at UTS.