Handy hints and hot tips from the yule lads

You may or may not already be familiar with the Icelandic yule lads, 13 (or 9!) naughty and nice Santa Claus types who come down from the mountains one by one in the days before Christmas, to prank and present kids with small gifts.
Barn í jólaglugga
13 December 2023

Tradition holds that children who leave their shoe on a windowsill will get a small gift from whichever yule lad is in town that night or, if they’ve been naughty, a potato instead of a present.

You can just imagine the logistics behind this awesome endeavour - where do the yule lads shop? What do they give? How much should the presents cost? And how ripe should the potatoes be? We managed to get a hold of Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod), the first of the yule lads to arrive, and asked him how on Earth he manages.

Stekkjastaur of course has ages of experience - literally! He’s always the first to arrive and has to begin preparations a bit sooner than his brothers. Here are his best tips for shoe gifts:

It doesn’t have to be expensive

Quite often, it’s the small and useful items that bring the most joy, something that the kids pick up regularly and reminds them of the joy of waking up, checking the window sill and discovering that the yule lads were there.   

Don’t wait until the last minute

Shopping at gas stations and places that are open outside of regular opening hours is generally more expensive. This applies to shoe-shopping much as any other type of procurement. Choice picks can be snapped up quickly - the early Santa’s little helper catches the worm. Stekkjastaur knows this from experience.

Don't shop hungry

This is equally true for yule lads and parents.

A treat to eat

Many yule lads, like Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage Swiper), Ketkrókur (Meat Hook) and Askasleikir (Bowl Licker) are gourmets and like nothing better than giving food (though they’d never admit to parting with anything edible if asked). For them, the perfect shoe gift would be a small orange, home-baked cookies or other sweets.

Need anything for Christmas?

Nice socks or stockings, hair ornaments and other small items that can be used over the holidays are a good fit.

Bulk buy

You can save by shopping for more than one kid at a time - it can be cheaper to buy in bulk than to buy individual items. Santa’s helpers who are related, are friends or have kids who are friends, can make shopping a joint venture.

Children compare notes

Kids will discuss what they got in their shoe with their friends. As household finances vary, it can be hurtful for children with less affluent parents to hear about more extravagant presents left in other shoes. It’s the thought that counts - the excitement and joy of discovering that the yule lads have visited - not the price tag of the present. Be mindful of others and keep it simple.

Let your heart be light

It's not a good idea to take on short-term loans (or microloans) to finance shoe gifts. This leads to more worry and trouble later. Think big but use the funds that you have wisely.

Initially published on the Forum (in Icelandic) 9 December 2014.

You may also be interested in
Netbanki fyrirtækja
10 Nov. 2023
Opening of the banking system
Landsbankinn recently launched a new feature in its app that allows customers to transfer funds from their bank accounts with other banks. This feature always requires customer approval. Landsbankinn is the first bank in Iceland to offer its customers the opportunity to carry out actions in other banks through its app.
Myndlistarsýning í Austurstræti 11
18 August 2023
Hringrás – a glimpse into Landsbankinn’s art collection
The exhibition Hringrás (e. cyclical) is a selection of works from Landsbankinn’s art collection. The exhibition explores a cycle of influence and inspiration through various media and across generations of artists. The chosen works reflect a focus on select artistic movements, namely abstract and geometric-abstract art, figurative and representational art, graphic art including etching and drawing, and surrealism. Hringrás provides a glimpse into the diversity and breadth of Landsbankinn's collection, across medium and context. 

By clicking "Allow All", you agree to the use of cookies to enhance website functionality, analyse website usage and assist with marketing.

More on cookies