Are you planning on taking the kids to see Santa this year? If so, don’t miss the 10 must-read tips for perfect Santa pictures!
(This post was originally published in 2014, but it was recently updated with a few new tips I learned along the way!)
We recently took the kids to see Santa and it went pretty smoothly. By “smoothly” I mean: only one kid cried, we all fit on the bench with Santa and the pictures turned out much better than I had hoped!
The annual trek to visit the big bearded guy in the grimy red suit ranks right up there with my annual physical and paying taxes: It’s an unavoidable stressful event that comes around every 365 days.
The beauty of taking a large family to see Santa is it is
an anxiety-inducing trip a cherished tradition that will continue to take place year after year – after year… long after the oldest child stops believing in Santa!
Take it from someone who has been there – and will continue to go there for quite some time: my BEST tricks of the mommy-trade!
10 Must-Read Tips for Perfect Santa Pictures:
- Plan ahead. Christmas falls on the same day every year, so it is easy to start a tradition of visiting Santa the first weekend after Thanksgiving – or whenever you feel is appropriate. Just trust me – impulsive visits to Santa are rarely a ranging success – for many reasons.
- Schedule your Santa visit for early in the day. The kids are well-rested, the crowds are not too bad, there are fewer germs and Santa is not so tired. No one wants to visit a cranky Santa – trust me on this! We have also had good success by going right at dinner time, when everyone else is at home eating – although you run the risk that your kids have hungry-induced meltdowns (so eat at home before you go)!
- Make it a tradition to see Santa early in the season. You get this cruel annual parenting-initiation ritual behind you, and on a practical note: you can use the pictures as Christmas cards and presents.
- Dress the kids in coordinating yet comfortable clothes. I used to do the whole sweater-vest outfits, which just added to the discomfort and anxiety level. This year, I chose to coordinate the kids’ shirts around Jansen’s (3) favorite flannel PJs – JUST in case he wouldn’t want to take them off – and that is exactly what happened! He’s wearing PJs in the picture – but you can’t tell! I think that move was my finest example of “pick your battles!” (Edited to add: Reading this tip three years after the fact makes me so proud of myself… seriously – genius move!)
- Prepare the kids, especially the toddlers and preschoolers. Tell them who you are going to visit. If at all possible, walk by Santa’s workshop a few days prior without any intention of having your pictures taken, just so your little one knows what to expect.
- Have the kids write letters or make a list for Santa to keep. We normally have the kids cut out pictures from toy catalogs if they are too young to write their own list. This Christmas stocking card is also a cute idea to bring to Santa.
- Avoid dressing the kids in athletic shoes with reflector strips. The reflectors show up really bright and shiny in the pictures. Take it from someone who learned this the hard way!
- Buy a fast pass. Our local mall charges a small convenience fee for a pass that allows you to bypass everyone waiting in line. My sanity and my kids’ happiness is definitely worth more than the $5 I have to pay to skip ahead of the masses. Again – this is something I have learned after spending the first two years in grueling long and torturous lines.
- Be prepared to snuggle up next to Santa. If your kids are toddlers or preschool age, chances are they will be less than thrilled to see Santa, even if they talk about him all day long. At least one of our boys has been at the “anti-Santa” age for the past seven years. So we all pile onto the bench with Santa, like clowns in a tiny car – just so our little one hesitantly agrees to be part of the picture.
- Lower your expectations. Santa pictures will not always be perfect Kodak moments. They will, however capture your child’s personality and developmental stage perfectly. The outgoing ones will tell Santa everything on their list, while the more reserved kids may have a nuclear meltdown. Years from now, you will look back on the pictures and remember the day perfectly, as it is branded in your memory – every tear and every smile. You will cherish the memory and probably even laugh at the perfectly imperfect pictures.
What is your Santa picture tradition?
For more Christmas related tips, check out how I have made the Elf on the Shelf work in my favor. Learn how they do Elf on the Shelf in Denmark. Their way is very inspiring and opens the Elf-world in a whole new way.
Don’t miss this incredible one-stop Elf on the Shelf resource.