Rule #1: Plan ahead!
Rule #2: See rule #1.
Sounds like an old joke but when dealing with small children a wee bit of forethought can go a long way.
The following tips are for both visits and photo sessions. A good Santa will have a visit with or without a photo session. After all, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?
A good Santa will never make promise he can’t keep nor does he ‘need’ your child’s full name or address. If Santa is coming to your house, you will give him the address.
You can assist in the following ways:
Lift your children and ‘hand them’ to Santa. This shows the child that it’s okay by having the parent give them over rather than having a stranger (Santa) reach for them.
The very first thing you need to remember is that you’ve taught you’re child to be wary of strangers, so don’t drop them on Santa’s lap and run away. I know it’s only a couple of feet to get out of the shot, but to that child you might as well have.
Not all kid’s react adversely but many will at least once.
A simple note to a sharp Santa can go a long way. Don’t expect Santa to recall or recite it fully but at least give him something to work with.
Child’s first name, siblings names, friends names, pets names a street or subdivision name.
Colour of home or distinguishing feature in child’s room.
How many houses to a particular friends place, are you close to the school or do they take a bus?
Recent accomplishments or incidents with pets, friends, siblings holiday or school event.
Anything new that may impress the child by Santa knowing about it?
Favourite toy or Christmas request. Will they get it?
Have you moved since last Christmas?
Who and where you will be visiting if you’re not to be at home for Christmas?
School name and grade or a Teachers name.
Let Santa know if there are any plans or particular presents that he can promise. Be extra sure that you can deliver and follow up.
If you know your Santa personally be sure adults and older children address Santa as Santa.
If need be, walk your children by Santa a few times, let them wave, make eye contact. Allow them to familiarize themselves with Santa. Bring them by several times if you need. Place yourself in their shoes, you tell them to avoid and be wary of strangers and then you basically toss them onto this big guy’s knee, in a funny suit, with a big beard and jump back. Now remember that little one is standing there in front of Santa and he’s still two times taller than them sitting down. At least with visits there is no pressure to have the children sit on Santa’s knee so if they’re not ready, don’t force it. Santa can visit just as well with the children standing in front of him.
If you find a good Santa that you like try to stay with him. Your pictures will line up nicely and he may even get to know you. Makes the magic just that much better.
A good Santa is usually surrounded by good help.
Be sure your Santa is comfortable with very small children if need be.
Familiarize young children by bringing them near Santa, possibly several times.
Very young children that may react should maybe be ‘backed’ in, get the photo first, then visit. Talk to the elf or photographer for assistance, they do this all the time.
Avoid traumatizing children, see above and simply come back later. You’ll get a much better photo.
If you find a Santa you like (most malls use several), find out his schedule.
There are many of us who specialize in home visits instead of the busy Mall setting.
Be sure young children are fed, rested and clean before visiting Santa.
Be sure they’ve had a chance to go to the washroom too, they’ll be more comfortable and less fidgety.
Bring along a favourite toy or stuffed animal to focus their attention.
Have one person trying to get the child’s attention and that person should be as directly behind the photographer as possible. I know everyone means well, but if you’re off to the side catching the child’s attention that’s exactly where the child’s eyes will be in the photo.
Ask, but most will allow you to take your own photo as long as it doesn’t interfere with their own photographer.
Is your camera battery full?
Although the following may seem negative, it’s sole purpose is to enhance a positive experience.
Please respect the rights of others to a pleasant visit or photo:
Most Santa’s will play to the crowd about them the best they can but Santa’s first priority though is his present visitor. This visitor has gone through all the proper channels as well as waited through a possibly long line. Please try to refrain from or allowing distractions. Many photo re-takes are created by eyes looking somewhere else or over exuberant children wandering onto the set out of turn. For those parents with frightened children, one very simple or innocent distraction could ruin the one chance they had at a decent photo. Just because they charge for photo’s doesn’t mean your child can’t have a visit with Santa. Any reputable set up will have this available at no charge.
Now this should go without saying, but:
Please blow your children’s noses and wash their hands before setting them on Santa.
Children with soiled pants should be taken care of first. Not only is it uncomfortable and a question of hygiene, colours run and could potentially ruin a very expensive Santa suit. At the very least, cause a lengthy uncomfortable interruption.
Do not bring food or drink with you to your visit. Santa can’t afford the time to go change caused by spills, not to mention how unpopular you would become for creating a lengthy line-up. Ice cream all over the child’s face does not make for a great picture either.
As much as I hated to bring up this last part, it’s more common than you might guess.