Tips on Portraying Santa Claus?
November 22, 2013 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I have to portray Santa Claus at my library in a few weeks and would appreciate some suggestions!

I have the full costume and a natural bowl full of jelly-belly. What I don't know is what I should be saying to the kids; especially if they start giving me lists of items they want!

A lot of the kids that will be getting their pictures taken with me will be from very low income families.

What are some phrases or even arcane knowledge that I should have ready to deploy when I don the suit?
posted by cinemafiend to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Minus the creepy/weird vibe in this scene from A Christmas Story (the best christmas movie of all time) I think it's a pretty basic script for mall Santa. How old are you? Have you been good/naughty? What do you want for xmas? etc...
posted by Grither at 10:33 AM on November 22, 2013

do not tell the kids that you are the real, #1 main santa from the north pole. you are just a deputy santa assigned to this mall. this will protect you from having to make impossible commitments and answer unanswerable questions.
posted by bruce at 10:41 AM on November 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

If a kid freaks out (dude, sometimes Santa can be scary!), let the parent come up and help. My friends' kid was scared to death of Santa and wouldn't sit on his lap, but she would talk to Santa if she was standing and holding mama's hand.

And don't take it personally if a kid freaks out.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:53 AM on November 22, 2013

Always smile and be nice. Will you have candy canes to give out? That can help in just about any situation. I agree that you are a deputy Santa and that you report to the big North Pole Santa. Give out fist bumps and hi-fives to kids that want to keep their distance.

Ask the kid's librarians for tips! They deal with kids all the time.
posted by amanda at 11:23 AM on November 22, 2013

When you are talking to the child, give them your whole attention, don't be looking at the next kid, talking to mum or the photographer. Give the child your attention and listen to them. Don't promise anything, you'll see what you can do. Don't force kids to sit on your lap, have them stand next to you or in front of you and bend down to their level to talk to them. Find out the Libraries policies on hugs and lap sitting. You'll sweat a lot in the suit etc, have a towel or something handy if you get all sweaty to quickly wipe your face etc down when no one is looking. USe breath mints and deodorant.
posted by wwax at 12:13 PM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ah, finally someone asks: things I learned from years of Elf duty (while Dad played Santa) plus even more years of doing Santa myself! It all comes down to not invading the kid's personal space. It's actually a lot like meeting a new cat --- that might seem a little weird, but think about it: how do you meet a new cat? Do you rush up, hang over the cat and then grab them, or do you take it quiet and calmly, and let the cat come to you?

About the suit itself: assuming you have a decent suit, strip down to your underwear before putting it on.... those suckers get HOT. And no, even if you're doing this outside, you do NOT want to wear any kind of longjohns..... I've worn mine outside for hours in 30-ish degree weather, and was perfectly comfortable with *nothing* but undies and the suit itself.

Skip the ho-ho-ho routine, *especially* if you have a deep or booming voice: 'ho-ho-ho' may make for a good movie line, but in person it just scares kids. Ditto loud or deep voices.

Don't loom over the kid, especially if you're tall; this is one situation where being short is better! Anyway, when you come in, go directly to a pre-assigned Santa-seat --- that'll help bring you down to a face-to-face level with the kids. And about that Santa-seat: experience tells me that you don't want a really soft, sink-into-it seat, like a couch --- something firmer, like a wooden chair, will be easier to get in and out of. A piano bench would be perfect: a lot of kids are too shy to sit on Santa's lap, but will sit *next* to Santa.

If you have candy canes or something to give out, if the kid is shy, hold it at full arm's lenght: let the kid come to you.

Some kids WILL come right up to you, but others will hold back; take the friendlier kids first, and the shyer ones will see everything is okay and come up to you later. If all a kid wants to do is stroke your soft furry suit, that's okay too.

If you have to drive somewhere in the suit, stay safe.... find yourself a designated driver if you can. Try not to let the kids see you arrive or leave by car, especially a car they can recognize ("hey, why is Santa driving Dad's car?!?").

Most important of all: have fun, but never EVER dishonor the suit! Stay completely in character when ANY kid is in range; don't leave bits of your suit laying around for your own kids to find and wonder about.

And if you think you'll be doing this again and might want to 'upgrade' your belt or boots or buy your own suit, memail me and I can give you some really good websites.
posted by easily confused at 2:59 PM on November 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

Figure out an exit line--something that you can say to move the kids along when you get the inevitable child who wants to tell you that this year they moved and they lost a tooth and one time they pushed their brother but they said they were sorry and they really love My Little Pony but can't decide if Applejack or Fluttershy is their favorite and...

This kid is my kid. I'm usually able to stay right with her and divert her when she starts monopolizing people like this (and yes, she's done it to mall Santas), but not everyone can, especially if they have multiple kids with them. Figure out a polite way to say that the kid needs to wrap it up, and consider pre-arranging a help, I can't get this child off my lap signal with an elf or Mrs. Claus. You give the signal, and they come over and urge Katie or whomever to move along--"Why don't you come with me and get a candy cane?" or something else that will gently incentivize the child to move on.
posted by MeghanC at 8:14 PM on November 22, 2013

Low income plus Santa may mean that you get some truly hearwrenching requests. Is there a way for you to have the sponsoring organization get some personal info on families that may truly need assistance? Also, be prepared, mentally, for what you will say if a child asks you to bring a pet or a person back to life, or chooses you as a safe adult to disclose abuse to. (Both of these scenarios happened more than once to a close friend who was a mall Santa for five years.)

Sorry to be a downer. If it helps, kids really will believe in you, which is why they may ask for or tell you some really amazing things. Consider it an honor.
posted by anastasiav at 10:32 PM on November 22, 2013

« Older Non-photographer has to learn to use a studio...   |   What are some good tabletop role playing games... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.