Visiting Santa is suppose to be a happy event but all to often it turns into a miserable family outing ending in tears. I know because I use to be one of Santa’s helpers. I’ve watched thousands of kids sit on Santa’s lap and I’ve learned a few little tips and tricks that will help make a trip to see Santa a success.
1. See Santa early. Santa often arrives at the mall before Thanksgiving. That’s when the lines are the shortest and Santa’s helpers have the most time to make sure your photo turns out. Every day that passes the lines get longer. Your children can always write a letter to Santa revising their wish list if need be.
2. Do your best to make the trip during normal business hours. If you can make it to the Santa set during a weekday morning that’s when you’ll find the shortest lines. The shorter the lines the less time for your kids to get antsy and hungry!
3. If your child has special needs and cannot wait in line call ahead and see if you can schedule a time to be bumped to the front of the line. You might be surprised to know how accommodating an elf can be.
4. If you suspect your child might be afraid of Santa start talking about Santa weeks ahead of time. When you arrive to the set, stand off to the side, a fair distance, and let them watch Santa greet other children. Be patient and explain to them who Santa is and what he does. If your child is older and still afraid try to find out specifically what they are afraid of and address it.
5. If your child cries and screams either skip Santa and look forward to next years pictures or have the photographer snap a quick photo and be content with that. A photo of your child screaming next to Santa is priceless and years later you’ll enjoy it more than the smiling, perfect photos. If your child is kicking, punching, biting or hyperventilating do Santa and your child a favor and just move on.
6. Don’t forget to thank Santa. He’s not a young man and he has a very tough job. He has to pick up kids all day from a seated position, deal with grumpy parents, tugs on his beard, colds, coughs and dirty diapers. Let him know he is appreciated.