By Vince Mancuso,

As we found out last week, Santa Claus has been using storage facilities throughout the United States to make his annual flight across the world to deliver gifts to those on his “Nice List.” Though we now know where he stashes Christmas gifts, there’s still one question: How does Santa deliver these gifts each year?

Of course, the prominent theory is that Santa doesn’t exist and that parents across the country are actually putting out presents “from Santa” (as was referenced in the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story).

While this does answer the question of how gifts show up each Christmas Eve, there are gaping holes that seem to prove Santa is real. For example: Who’s making all of that clatter on the roof? Are today’s health-conscious parents really eating a plate full of cookies? Why are the gifts from Santa in different wrapping paper? How did so many people manage to get video of St. Nick sneaking around storage facilities?

That’s why we’re taking a look at modern theories for how Santa delivers Christmas gifts.


Romanticized in both songs and movies, such as the 1964 stop-motion holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the longest-held theory on the Christmas Eve flight is that a team of magical reindeer pull Mr. Claus’s sleigh through the air. This team consistently includes Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen—and, of course, the most famous reindeer of all.

While this is still the leading theory, scientists question the possibility of nine reindeer carrying the sheer weight of millions of gifts each year, as well as the big guy himself (especially after all of those cookies).


One of the most recent theories of Mr. Claus’s flight comes from the 2003 film Elf starring Will Ferrell, in which a human is accidentally brought to the North Pole and raised as an elf. In the climactic scene, Santa asks Buddy to fix his sleigh’s jet engine to get out of Central Park. The idea is that Santa started using the jet engine after Christmas spirit began declining in the world—spirit that used to make the sleigh fly.

This theory has some credibility, as current North Pole results show children stop believing in Santa earlier and earlier each year, averaging at four and three-quarters in 2013, down an eighth from the 2012 season.


A lesser-known theory is the combination of reindeer and jet technology, which can be seen in the film Ernest Saves Christmas, a 1988 film featuring Jim Varney as the hapless Ernest P. Worrell. In the movie’s climax, Ernest flies the sleigh roughly eight times around the world in approximately ten seconds, which calculates to a flight speed of about 1,195,248 miles per hour.

While the scientific community questions how reindeer don’t burn up or suffocate in suborbital flight, a small group of theorists believe this may be the base for the truth, as it explains how one man can cover so much ground in a single night while staying off radar.


Many believe a near-global flight is possible if the amount of weight is reduced, causing less wind resistance as well as reducing the amount of energy exerted—reindeer or rocket—to conduct the flight. In The Santa Clause, a 1994 Christmas film starring Tim Allen, in which Allen’s character Scott Calvin mistakenly becomes Mr. Claus, Santa carries all of his deliveries in a single, relatively weightless bag.

Leading experts have serious reason to doubt this theory. Although it’s been depicted in other films and stories, the concept has been dismissed due to discrepancy in bag sizes and fabrics used.


There’s a newer theory that Santa is simply the figurehead to a more complex operation in which elves enter the homes to drop off presents. This can be seen in the 2011 animation Arthur Christmas, which shows elves making multiple gift drops using a highly-sophisticated cloaked ship and spy gear.

The elf theory is surprisingly logical and answers many questions as to how the stereotypical obese man can fit into chimneys and other tight spaces. It also explains how Santa’s sleigh is able to avoid detection.


Some speculate that Santa is affected differently by time than we are. In the 2012 film Rise of the Guardians, it was suggested that Mr. Claus is a part of an organization of legendary figures, which includes Father Time. If such associations exist, Santa could’ve used his connections to find a way to control time.

If this is the case, a one-night trip for Santa could easily last days or even months, allowing him to take his time delivering gifts, keeping tabs on who’s been naughty or nice, and see when people are awake or sleeping. However, the scientific community insists that this theory is ridiculous, particularly when it comes to time dilation. After all, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity made no mention of Mr. Claus.

What are your Santa storage and delivery theories?

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