Young children enjoy Christmas more than anyone and of course one of the key reasons is Santa Claus. Some youngsters may be fearful of Santa when they are face to face at the shopping Mall, but the thought of the jolly old elf paying a midnight visit on Christmas Eve brings a delight to all.
Since the real Santa Claus would never have the time to stop by your house personally prior to Christmas Eve, it’s necessary to create the visit yourself. Below are some tips on making that visit from Santa Claus a magical one and something your children will never forget.
This author has personally played Santa Claus for over thirty years in all types of venues. That includes portraying Santa on TV, radio, fund raisers and telethons, family parties and yes at home with my own kids. Being a good SantaClaus is not as easy as one would think. It takes practice and something that should be thought out, especially if the children are able to speak.
First off, a convincing Santa wardrobe is essential. As a kid when I would visit Santa at a local Sears’s Department store the first thing I would check out was his boots. If Santa Claus was wearing those plastic shoe pull-overs to simulated the tops of boots, then I knew he was not the real deal.
Next was the beard and of course I would look very close to scrutinize to see if it was real. A well behaved child would never pull on the whiskers like you see in the movies or on TV, but a cheap and flimsy beard is a dead giveaway.
The beard is not the only facial hair to worry about. The eye brows should be as white as the beard or again a youngster with a keen eye will figure out they are in the presence of an imposter.
The Santa suit is very important for older children. Since Santa lives at the North Pole his suit needs to look like it could protect him against the arctic cold. The suit should have some weight to it and the nice red velvet ones always give the impression of royalty, fitting of Santa Claus.
Finally, most Santa’s wear white gloves. Why, I don’t know? I mean think about it, Santa would probably wear much thicker, fur lined mittens or gloves instead of butler type ones, Yet, 99% of department store Santa’s wear the customary white mitts, so stick to the established rule.
If you are going to be Santa then you need to make sure you behave as Santa Claus would or at least as you imagine Santa would behave. That means that Santa is not sarcastic, stern, and flirtatious around women or smells of cigarettes or drink. Santa of course is a Saintly figure and as such should act like one.
Now if you are making an appearance as Santa in front of your children then it’s easy when they are young, but it gets harder as they get older. Little kids are in awe of Santa and it doesn’t take too much to fool them. As children begin to mature they scrutinize Santa’s visit and look for the signs of deception as mentioned above. It takes a talented adult capable of disguising his voice good enough to fool his own children..
If you are playing Santa for the neighbor’s kids or at a family function then you have a much better chance of pulling it off. Unless a child knows you very well they are usually too excited at the sight of Santa to see through your disguise.
The next thing that needs mention is important again for children older than three. That is the fact that Dad or Uncle Jim never seems to be in the room when Santa Claus shows up. This can be challenging with kids who are questioning the reality of Santa and are looking for proof that the man in the red suit if not the genuine article. You can fool them the first year, but after that they begin to look around the room for the adult they suspect might be taking the place of the real Father Christmas.
Here are a few suggestions for those hoping to prolong the illusion of Santa Claus making a personal visit to a family party and especially for those who really take their Santa duties seriously. First, make an announcement early in the night that you have to leave for some prearranged duty. Whether it’s going to the store for more eggnog, down the street to drop off a last minute present or whatever, but do it early enough so the kids expect you to be gone.
Another trick is to get an accomplice to vouch for you immediately after you return. By that I mean you have someone claim that you were holding their video camera taking pictures during Santa’s entire visit if you are challenged by a six year old.
Now this next one is only for those who have enough time and talent on their hands to pull this off. Last year I took a photo of my parent’s home two nights before Christmas Eve, complete with snow and Christmas decorations. My entire family celebrates Christmas Eve at my Mom’s house and Santa always makes an appearance.
I took the photo and on my computer I photo shopped a photo of Santa complete with sleigh and reindeer on top of my parent’s roof. I then took another digital photo of my handiwork off my computer screen and kept in my camera. On Christmas Eve I showed the photo to the kids minutes after Santa left, proof certain I had been outside lying in wait to secretly catch Santa with my camera. It fooled all of the eight year olds and younger and even had the eleven year old scratching her head!
Now, if Santa is carrying presents for the kids as opposed to just candy canes make sure they are all equal in value. Santa can’t give little Jimmy a ten dollar truck and little Billy a sixty dollar video game. Kids are never so dizzy from Santa’s visit that they can’t figure out they were short changed after he leaves.
The present problem can be a real issue at large family parties where Mom and Dad bring a pre wrapped gift and leave it at the door for Santa to hand out. I was at one party where my cousin forgot to bring a gift and had her husband run out to get one. The only problem was no wrapping paper, so they wrapped it in newspaper which was lying around the hall. I refused to play Santa and deliver such a cheaply wrapped present while all of the other kids had the customary gifts with bows. This would have been a dead giveaway for those seven year olds who already wonder about Santa’s existence. I stood my ground until they went out and bought some traditional paper. Keeping Santa’s image is a responsibility.
When playing Santa try not to get into a detailed conversation with the child. A simple “were you good?” or “are you leaving me cookies and milk?” will work. The more Santa converses, the more his voice and speech can be identified. It can be hard to keep that deep, bellowing Santa voice after a few minutes so the more you speak the harder it gets to maintain the disguise. Plus, a chatty Santa might end up showing his ignorant of what the latest toys are on the minds of youngsters and that’s not good.
Finally, Santa should never over stay his welcome. Remember that Santa is a very busy person and as such shouldn’t hang around anywhere for too long, unless of course your working in a mall. The longer Santa stays the more accustomed children become to his presence and it hurts the effect. Santa should leave as quickly as he came which helps create that sense of mystery.
Too many adults who play Santa want to hang around to entertain their fellow adults and that can ruin the experience for the children. Remember, Santa would never have adult woman sit on his lap or take a sip from a beer bottle. Santa is a saintly person who represents charity, kindness and goodness. If you are to be a good Santa then you need to remember you are there for the kids only.
Being Santa can be very fun and fulfilling, but remember your actions are recorded forever in the minds of the young. Just be the Santa of your childhood dreams and everything will work out fine.