Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year! Besides the pressure to find the perfect gift for loved ones, friends, teachers, babysitters, tutors, trainers . . . there’s one more thing some of us have to do—visit Santa.
Yes, that’s right. It is time for the annual trip to the mall or your local park where you and your children have the joy of waiting in a long line to visit with a jolly man in a red suit, aka Santa.
For most parents, this is one of the most memorable and frustrating experiences you have each and every holiday season. There’s usually drama involved in picking out the perfect outfit, massive frustration experienced waiting in the never-ending line and then sheer terror felt when it is your turn to visit with Santa. And, then, after all of this, if your child isn’t crying in fear of the big man in the red suit, they inevitably whisper in your ear, “What should I say to him?”
To help all parents combat and answer this predictable but dreaded question, we’d like to offer some Tips for The Santa Experience. We’ve divided this into pre-visit and visit so it’s easy to follow:
• • • PRE-VISIT TIPS: • • •
Tip#1: Make a list: Don’t save the list for Christmas Eve! Work with your child to write their list of toy wishes before they visit Santa. Then, bring the list with you to the visit.
Tip#2: Choose the“Top 3”: Have your child highlight or mark the top three things they want from Santa, as most kids have LOTS of things on their list. The lines are always long and Santa’s helpers are under pressure to move the kids through quickly. It is best your child decides in advance the gifts they want to discuss with Santa.
Tip #3: Pick out THE outfit in advance: To eliminate some of the emotion and pressure the day of the visit, pick your child’s outfit out a few days before. If they are little, it is easier since they can’t really complain. Be sure to bring a change of clothes or two, in case something gets spilled on the chosen outfit before the visit. If you child is a bit older, pick the outfit out with them. If your son, but especially daughter, doesn’t love their Santa clothes, they are going to be that much more difficult on the day of the visit. Think of it as their “power suit” for the day!
Tip #4: Pick your time wisely: If at all possible, don’t visit Santa in the Mall on the weekend. The lines are always long, the kids and parents are always cranky and by the time you get to the front of the line everyone is emotionally drained. The optimal time to visit is the middle of the week when the lines are significantly shorter. If at all possible, take your kids one day after pre-school dismissal or after school. Everyone will have a much better time.
Tip #5: Pack some snacks: You never know how long the lines will be, so it is best to have some healthy snacks in your bag for the little ones. The worse thing you can be asked by your child after standing in line for an hour is, “I’m hungry! Can we go get some food?” Giving up your space the Santa line is almost unthinkable, so avoid it by just bringing some healthy snacks along with you.
Tip #6: Visit the bathroom: This should be a logical step in the process; but in the race to get to Santa it is often forgotten. Take a few minutes to visit the bathroom before you get in line, you will be happy that you did!
• • • THE VISIT: • • •
Waiting in line:
Tip #7: Review the list: While your are standing in line, if your child can read, review their list with them. Remind them to focus on the highlighted things and to pick one back-up item if Santa asks the question, “Anything else?”
Tip #8: Other things to say: One of big reasons kids get nervous when visiting Santa, is they don’t know what to say. Help them prepare for the big moment by talking with your child about some things to say to Santa. Try to come up with the answer to predicable question: “Have you been a good girl or boy this year?” A little bit of conversation planning will go a long way when it is your child’s turn.
Tip #9: Seating arrangements: Right knee, left knee or just standing next to him, most kids get nervous when they have to figure out where to sit when talking to Santa. When in line, watch other kids visit with Santa and help your child decide where they want to be when talking to the big man.
Tip#10: Group or Solo: If you have more than one child with you, figure out whether you want individual Santa pictures, a group picture or both before you reach the front of the line.
Tip #10: Walk up with your child: To eliminate some of the nerves, take your child up to meet Santa, especially if they are little. If they are older, give them the option. It is asking an awful lot of a two or three-year old to walk up to Santa by themselves.
Tip #11: Smile: Encourage your child to smile and say, “Hello!” as they approach Santa. A simple smile can make the visit a lot less tense!
Tip #12: The List: Don’t forget to remind your child to pull out their list! If they are little, just remind them of the things to say to Santa. If they go totally blank, stand close to them so you can help them remember what to say.
Tip #13: Tears: Some kids just lose it when it is their turn, be sure to have some Kleenex with you. If this happens, just try to comfort your child.The worse thing you can do is get frustrated with and yell at your child; it will just make the situation worse.
Just remember, the Santa visit should be fun!!! Try to enjoy the Santa visit and all of the other moments of your holiday season! And, there’s always next year.
For more Tips from Kathryn, check out her site, Presenting Perfection.
Presenting Perfection offers public speaking classes and professional presentation classes to children, teens, and adults providing the tools and techniques needed to deliver the best possible presentation in any situation.