->'''Dad:''' Those must have been some cookies you left Santa.
->'''Daughter:''' I didn't leave him cookies. I left him cheese.

Characters leaving out treats for SantaClaus on Christmas Eve. This is usually done as a test to see whether he exists, or as a act of good will. The food is usually milk and cookies in America or sherry (or a nice big tumbler of Scotch in Scotland) and a mince pie in Britain, but it may be something different for one reason or another. Sometimes there will also be food (typically carrots) for the reindeer.

The tradition is related to the OlderThanDirt northern European tradition of leaving a food sacrifice for various protective spirits, most importantly the house gnome. House gnomes were later conflated with Saint Nicholas to become the modern day Santa Claus.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Advertising ]]

* [[http://youtube.com/watch?v=e72uHzFrfkQ This]] Betty Crocker commercial shows a kid's father eating some sugar cookies, when the kid shows up and tells Dad they were for Santa, angry and paranoid that he won't come as a result. They both then fix up a new batch, and at the end, the kid warns him that they're for Santa and that Dad shouldn't touch them.
* Best Buy had an obnoxious series of commercials for Christmas 2011, wherein Santa showed up to leave presents and found the woman of the house sitting there eating his cookies and drinking his milk. Santa holds a bottle of cologne. "Papa don't want no cologne," says the woman, taking a bite of his cookie, and she points to the flatscreen TV playing some manner of football game in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.
* Comcast also had a commercial for Christmas 2011, wherein an elf and Santa were helping set up new electronics gear. And Santa refused to share his cookies with the elf.
* In [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwnzWyktX_U this]] "Got Milk?" ad, Santa takes back all of the Christmas presents and the tree because the family is out of milk to go with the brownies left out for him.
* In [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiDDHnISA-4 this]] [=M&M's=] ad, Red and Yellow are putting out [=M&M's=] for Santa and meet him in the flesh.
* One commercial had a family come downstairs on Christmas morning to behold the entire house filled wall to wall with amazing toys and gifts, far and beyond the usual fare. When the dad asks what they left for Santa, the kids replied "Cheese". The commercial ends with the tag line, "Behold the power of cheese."
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEtu0lbeNRE In this 1987 commercial]], [[CatchPhrase Who's that kid with the Oreo cookie?]] Who else?
* Subverted in old locally-produced Louisiana ad for Zapp's potato chips that had Santa asking the boys and girls to hold off on the milk and cookies and leave out 7up and a bag of Zapp's instead. That's just how Santa rolls down on the bayou.
* An old Alka-Seltzer commercial shows Santa coming home after his rounds with bad indigestion after eating all the treats left out for him; he feels better after taking Alka-Seltzer.
* In 2013 there was an ad in which a guy leaves a bottle of Aleve pain killer for Santa.

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* The Creator/RaymondBriggs ''Father Christmas'' book has Father Christmas getting rather tipsy on all the sherry that the children leave out for him (in Britain, it's traditional to give Santa a mince pie and a sherry to keep him going, and a carrot for his reindeer).

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[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/TheSantaClause'': Early in his tenure as Santa, when he's still refusing to get into the spirit of it, Scott doesn't touch the food. When a small child catches him not drinking the milk she's left out, he tells her it's because he's lactose intolerant. This becomes a BrickJoke when he returns to the house at the end of the film, and finds that she's remembered and left him a glass of soy milk instead.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* On the Literature/{{Discworld}}, children leave out a pork pie and a glass of sherry for the Hogfather, and a turnip for the hogs that pull his sleigh. In ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'', when Death is subbing in, he can't eat or drink so his human sidekick Albert deals with the pies and sherry for him (particularly enthusiastically when it comes to the sherry).
* SugarRayDodge's ''Literature/SonOfSanta'': Inverted. Dale leaves cookies for Jack at his house.
* The children's picture book ''Father Christmas Needs A Wee'' is about [[PottyEmergency the inevitable side effect]] of all that liquid.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'': "The Night Hanukkah Harry Saved Christmas". Harry is SubbingForSanta and discovers some milk and cookies out.
-->What's this? ''[sniffs milk]'' I'd better put this in the fridge before it turns.
* Marshall from ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' talks about leaving lutefisk instead of cookies, "cause that's what Santa needs at 3:00 AM while battling a snowstorm over the Rockies, a sugar crash. Santa needs protein!"
* In his Christmas Special, [[PeeWeesPlayhouse Pee-Wee]] attempted to bribe Santa with a large platter of milk and cookies. Ultimately subverted when Santa revealed that the Christmas list was so all-encompassing that ''Pee-Wee had to give back all of the presents'' so that the children of the world could have some!
* ''Series/BarneyAndFriends'': Michael and Amy leave milk and cookies for Santa in the Backyard Gang video "Waiting for Santa". It's how they know that they beat him to their house after their North Pole visit.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Neighbours}}'' in which Mrs Mangel is looking after her grandson, Toby, over Christmas, he says that his dad always leaves a "tinny" (can of beer) out for Santa. Mrs Mangel suggests that Santa might want a glass of wine, for a change.

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[[folder: Music ]]

* Referenced in "'Til Santa's Gone (I Just Can't Wait)" by ClintBlack. (The song was once sub-titled "Milk and Cookies".)

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* ''ComicStrip/{{Garfield}}'' used this a few times during its Christmas strips.
** In [[http://garfield.nfshost.com/1981/12/24/ one early strip]], Jon sets a hamburger and a glass of milk nearby the chimney, saying, "And here's something for jolly old Saint Nick." Garfield then rises from a present under the tree and begins eating it, saying, "Ho Ho Ho."
** [[http://garfield.nfshost.com/1990/12/19/ One strip]] shows Jon about to have some milk and cookies lying out. He then gets caught in a net booby trap, and Garfield comes over and angrily comments, "Hey! You're not Santa!"
** In [[http://garfield.nfshost.com/1998/12/24/ another strip]], Garfield leaves out a T-bone steak and a pot of coffee for Santa, because "A big fat guy who's driving all night doesn't want milk and cookies."
** In another strip there was this dialogue between Jon and a very grumpy-looking Garfield:
-->'''Jon:''' If you look at your gift I'll tell Santa. ''(BeatPanel)'' And he already not too happy with you for eating his milk and cookies last year.
-->'''Garfield:''' You ''had'' to bring that up, did you?!
** In [[http://garfield.nfshost.com/2001/12/25/ the Christmas Day 2001 strip]], Garfield says that Santa is even nicer then he thought, because ''he'' left ''Garfield'' a cookie.
** The Christmas-themed book ''Seasons Eatings'' has a list of top 10 things Garfield would do if he replaced Santa. Among them is "Order kids to leave out a T-bone steak and curly fries for him instead of milk and cookies."
** The 12-12-2012 strip had Garfield emailing his wish list to Santa and promising to leave out plenty of cookies for him. Jon claims "You can't bribe Santa!", but at the North Pole the big guy is revealed to be excited about the promise...
* The throwaway joke of the Christmas Day 1988 [[http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1988/12/25 strip]] of ''CalvinAndHobbes'' has Calvin telling his dad that he's leaving out a sandwich for Santa. Calvin then asks whether Santa would like some milk with it, and his dad responds, "I think "Santa" would rather have a cold beer," much to his mother's annoyance.
* In one ''ComicStrip/FoxTrot'' strip, Jason is making Christmas cookies, telling Roger he's making one for Santa; Roger encourages him to choose a much bigger one, and then also encourages him to use lots of cinnamon hearts and chocolate sprinkles. As Jason does so, Andy comes up behind them and snidely says, "And 'Santa' wonders why he's so fat..."

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[[folder: Radio ]]

* In Creator/DavidSedaris's [[{{NPR}} "Santaland Diaries"]], he describes how he, as a Macy's elf, had to go through a routine with a MallSanta where he would find out what kind of cookie each kid was going to leave out and then claim it was Santa's favorite.
-->This afternoon Santa got an Asian child who wasn't familiar with the idea of leaving cookies. Santa asked what she was going to leave him to eat, and she got a puzzled look on her face. He said, "Something round to eat?" and she said, "A potato?"

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Since ''VideoGame/TheSims'' games don't keep track of dates past the day of the week (and the first game not even that), the only conditions for invoking a visit from Santa are placing appropriate furniture items, including a nice plate of cookies.

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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In ''PrepAndLanding'', one of the duties of the eponymous team is to check the milk and cookies to see whether they're up to standards. When Wayne is passed for a promotion, he takes it out on a Santa cookie and tries to bite its head off (although it's a little tough for him).
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}} Arthur's Perfect Christmas]]'', this was something Arthur's family did, but D.W. took things one step further by having them leave out a pail of water for the reindeer.
* ''WesternAnimation/PeppaPig'': In "Santa's Grotto", Grandpa Pig leaves Santa a mince pie and [[FrothyMugsOfWater an unspecified drink]]. Given British tradition, it was probably sherry. A carrot is also left for Santa's reindeer.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' episode ''[[ChristmasEpisode The Toy that Saved Christmas]]'', the "Silly Songs with Larry" segment has Larry leaving cookies out for Santa...and Santa gets none of them. Larry ends up giving one of them to a robber, another to a Viking, and the I.R.S. takes the last one.
* In the ''[[WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutronBoyGenius Jimmy Neutron]]'' Christmas special, Carl left a plate of cheese nips for Santa the year before, and one saliva-covered cheese nip was all that was left. Jimmy, who doesn't believe in Santa Claus, tells Carl that his Parents could have eaten the cheese nips, but Carl tells him that his parents are on a high-fiber low-cheese nip diet. [[spoiler:When Jimmy's scanner picks up a holiday-themed pattern, this pattern confirms Carl to be right.]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/AsToldByGinger'' "An Even Steven Holiday Special" has Hoodsey mentioning that he one time left Santa a box of Nachos Supreme and he "stunk up the bathroom on the way out".

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[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Many kids do this on Christmas Eve to see whether Santa exists. So the kid will still believe in him, the parents will then either eat the food or throw it away.
** Many kids who have already stopped believing leave it out anyway to give their parents a snack.
* On Latin America, children leave grass on January 6 for TheThreeWiseMen to give to their mounts (horses or camels, depending on the country).
* In Australia, the milk is replaced with beer.
* While not Santa Claus, there is a tradition in China of leaving sweets for the Kitchen God, who makes rounds before Chinese New Year and reports to the Jade Emperor on good families/children.
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