If you celebrate Christmas, odds are you spent at least a couple of the holidays as a child wondering where in the world Santa was on Christmas Eve — and these days, figuring out how to track Santa on NORAD is as easy as pie. First begun as the result of a typo in 1955, NORAD's Santa Tracker has been delighting children (and adults) everywhere for over 60 years; naturally, then, you'd expect it to get a little more high tech as time has gone by. And that's exactly what's happened: In the age of the internet, you can literally track Santa's movements online or through an app. I know, I know — it's not quite the same as gathering around the fireplace and pretending you hear his boots on the roof, but hey, it's close enough. And it's a heck of a lot of fun, too.
So what are the NORAD Santa Tracker and NORAD Santa Tracking app, and how do they both work? Run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the app and the website both purport to "track" Santa Claus as he makes his journey across the globe on Christmas Eve. Both the app and the website are free to use — and, indeed, they're available for your use as of this very moment! Though actual tracker isn't active quite yet — right now, it's simply counting down until Dec. 24 when Santa begins making his moves — you can still explore the site and app and keep yourself entertained with games, trivia, and more as we wait for the lead up to the big day.
The instructions below feature images showing what happens when you use the NORAD Tracks Santa app, but the steps themselves are applicable to simply using the browser version of the Santa Tracker as well. Is there a better way to get into the holiday spirit than keeping an eye on the fellow in the red suit as he prepares for his big trip? I think not!
1. Download The App Or Access The Website
2. Poke Around NORAD's Santa's Village Activities
One of the cutest aspects of this Santa Tracker is that you can play games, read up on information, and explore Santa's Village while you wait for Christmas to roll around.
3. Wait Until Dec. 24
Sadly, updates on Santa's whereabouts only begin on Christmas Eve, so we need to wait until then. But at least there are games to play in the meantime, right? And don't worry: There are free holiday books and music, too!
4. Go To The NORAD Santa Tracker On Christmas Eve
When Christmas Eve finally arrives, don't forget to log onto your Santa Tracker! It happens in real time, so you don't want to miss a moment.
5. Have Fun!
Have fun tracking Santa, and make sure you share this activity with your loved ones, especially if there are little ones in your home on Christmas. And don't forget to play some Christmas music while you're at it!
Images: Marissa Higgins/Bustle (5)