Have you ever wanted to try your hand at bringing joy to children as a part-time Santa Clause? James Halcomb gives you the tips to realize your dream.
A couple of years ago, my wife and I decided to invest in a nice Santa suit. The suit was mainly going to be used for church and family functions, but we thought it would be fun if we also did some side Santa “gigs.” I started a Facebook page called “Lexington Area Santa” and things took off from there. Every year I get to put on the suit of the Jolly One and enter rooms filled with adulation and abject fear. The kid’s love Santa, but stranger danger seems to be inherent in kids; making for some interesting adventures. If you feel that, similar to Thor’s Hammer, you are worthy to pick up the suit, I have some survival tips for you.
Dance to the music played:
Just like in sales, you have to be willing to be on the same level as your audience. This event isn’t for you, it’s for the kids. So getting down on their level is not only practical it is essential if you want to “sell” yourself as Santa.
One of the first mistakes most Santa’s make is “getting in the kids face.” We believe that every kid loves Santa, and even though we have seen them run screaming, you are going to be different. Nope, you are going to get screamed at, peed on and even puked on just like all the rest. So be ready, sanitary wipes are a must. Above all don’t be pushy.
Stay in character.
Kids are sneaky and observant. The second you are on property, you are Santa. No smoke breaks, no drink breaks. Keep your suit in good condition and recognize when it is time for a new suit, mine is coming next year. Get all the grown-up conversation out of the way, either by phone or by proxy. I always take my wife with me as an assistant. To sum up: no fat shabby Santa’s. Stay crisp, neat and ready.
My wife continues to get me to work harder to stay in character, but I am a chatty kind of guy, so I am always trying to talk up the parents or family. You have to remember that you are there for the kids not to make small talk about the election.
Listen more than you talk.
This is just a great idea as much as a good “cheat.” It is not easy to stay in Santa voice all the time, even in costume. So just try to be active, but not much of a talker. Kids relate better with someone who is a listener anyway, so try that approach.
Again, this is something my assistant (wife) has to remind me of. I do have a decent sounding voice, but no Santa-like baritone, so it does slip. So practice, look in the mirror and develop the voice just a bit, unless you are a full time Santa, then work a bit harder.
Be professional and treat the parents like clients.
Parents are often hyper-sensitive about Santa, and can have high anxiety about any cracks in the illusion. So if you are at a private event, quickly establish a professional rapport. Ease their stress and with professionalism and they will relax.
Parents sometimes struggle with what to say to Santa, it can sometimes be humorously uncomfortable, especially when you don’t know them. So talk to them about Christmas related topics. This can open a nice dialogue all the while keeping in the spirit of the season. So even if kids were to over-hear you, it is still all about Christmas.
Simply enjoy the experience of having the adoration of everyone around you. All eyes are on you, so bask in it and have a good time.
If you are not in it for the fun, then don’t bother. While I do have a professional Facebook page for myself, I often do Santa “gigs” for churches, schools and other opportunities of community service. It’s always a great time for me. It should be for you too, and you might make some extra cash on the side for the holidays. It’s a win for everyone.
Photo: James Halcomb