When my wife was growing up (and through to today), when Christmas time came around, her parents gave her clothes labeled as being from them and "fun" presents labeled as being from Santa.
When I was growing up, my parents just bought me clothes as I needed them and gave me a few, select, meaningful presents from them (no Santa in our house).
So this was the first year that our daughter was old enough to know what was going on at Christmas (she's 2 3/4). Because of the distance between our home and those of our families, we spent the last week visiting our various families and just got home.
We did our Christmas last night after having done various gatherings and present exchanges throughout the past week. We hadn't really discussed how we were going to handle the whole Santa thing in advance and for some reason it bothered me more than I expected doing Christmas at the in-laws and having the girl be expected to say thank you to this invisible mysterious Santa dude for all this "stuff" she kept getting (I like the thank you's and she's good about saying them, but the insistence from her grandparents that she say them to a Santa who wasn't there seemed a bit weird). And then when we got home and she got something that I'd picked out especially because I wanted her to have it from me (but I was at work when my wife wrapped the presents) from Santa and she thanked him, it kind of pissed me off for come reason (I know she won't remember where things came from for long, so it doesn't really matter).
My wife and I had discussed we wanted to have a small Christmas with our daughter and not get her too much stuff because my mother-in-law always goes crazy overboard, but under the tree were more presents than we'd agreed upon because "she had to get some stuff from santa too". It's not the cost of the presents that I have the problem with, it's that she already has so much "stuff" that she doesn't need a lot more. As it is, we end up having to order a lot of the presents for various gatherings and have them shipped to wherever we're going, wrap them there, and ship more stuff home because there isn't enough room in our car for all the presents (I know, first world problems, right?).
My parents didn't do the whole Santa thing for more or less religious reasons (and because my mom hadn't growing up), but my objections to Santa are more along the lines of how he gets used to promote excess consumerism and all the disposable junk she (and all kids these days) seems to get. I know it's good for kids to have a rich fantasy life, but I just feel so bleh about Santa. I feel the same way about easter. You can have a fun scavenger hunt for a few nice treats without awful easter grass, flourescent disposable baskets, tons of hardened corn syrup and cheap, chinese, plastic toys.
So how do those of you who come from different traditions blend them together as you've started your families? I need to figure out how to handle things next year so we can discuss it before we forget/put it off indefinitely.
My compromise would be to let the in-laws keep doing what they're doing with lots of presents from Santa, since we celebrate with them on Christmas day and they're not going to change no matter what we say anyway (we've asked my mother in law to scale back several times to no avail - my father in law apparently has too), and then do a smaller Christmas with presents from us whenever we can (usually a week before or after Christmas).