Santa Claus Find out what to leave Santa Claus other than cookies and milk when he stops by every house on Christmas Eve. Photo: Reuters

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Santa Claus is getting ready to make his way down the chimney to leave presents for the whole world, and he doesn’t ask for much in exchange -- only that people be nice all year and maybe leave behind a little snack to keep him going to each house.

It’s an age-old tradition in the United States to leave cookies and milk for the big guy as a sort of “thank you” for spreading Christmas cheer. However, if you want to shake things up a bit and give Santa the snack he deserves, below are a few helpful tips to make your household memorable this year.

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies

The old staple is, of course, good old chocolate chips. However, Santa likes all kinds of great cookie recipes. From sugar cookies to snickerdoodles, there’s no shortage of treats that Santa will be more than happy to gobble up before moving on to the neighbors’ place. MyRecipes has a ton of great cookies that Santa is sure to love including candy cane thumbprints, lemon frosted sugar cookies and pecan pie bars. Martha Stewart suggests flattering St. Nick with some cookies decorated to look like him or his reindeer. At the North Pole’s website, they suggest a few of Santa’s favorites that people can try their hand at this year as well.

And remember, sampling a little bit of cookie dough meant for Santa DOES NOT put you on the naughty list, so enjoy.

Santa Doesn’t Work Alone

Sure Santa gets all the credit, but he’s not traveling the world on Christmas Eve all by his lonesome. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph are along for the ride, too. If you want to be extra generous, in addition to your holiday treat for Santa, give his reindeer a little “thank you” snack as well. SantaAnswers suggests that reindeer love oatmeal, carrots, hay and apples. Just make sure you have enough to feed nine mouths.

Consider the Health Option

Last year, in an effort to cut down on his dairy intake, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) suggested that families consider leaving soy milk for Santa. Not only would it help him get through the night with a bit less of a tummy ache, but it cuts down on the amount of labor real cows have to do. More to that point, Santa might get sick of cookies and milk after a while – consider a nice hot cup of tea and some crackers. By the time he reaches the Midwest, he might thank you for your consideration.

International Traditions

Sure most Americans leave out cookies and milk, but other parts of the world show their thanks to the joy-spreading character in different ways. For example, according to The Daily Meal, children leave rice pudding in Denmark. In England they prefer to leave a Christmas pie. Meanwhile, in Australia it’s customary to leave Santa a cold glass of beer – although that is more of a Christmas tradition for the adults, sorry.

Who Needs Snacks Anyway?

In Germany, children don’t leave a treat for Santa at all. Instead they opt for a hand-written note. Santa tends to like the ones with a lot of decoration and artwork, so break out the glitter and the red and green crayons. He'll put your note in his bag and bring it back to the North Pole to share with his elves. Still, it’s always important to keep in mind that the best way to thank Santa for the bag full of gifts is to make sure you stay on the nice list year after year.