Child collects Santa stocking

Playing Santa – a guide for parents

“Ho! Ho! Ho!, Merry Christmas!” are the immortal lines uttered by Santas everywhere. However, playing Santa can be a daunting event for parents and children involved. For the grown ups there is the worry about what to say, and how to act around young children who may be meeting Santa for the first time. For the children, there may be nothing more terrifying than being placed on the lap of a man dressed in red and white wearing an enormous beard. So how do you get playing Santa right with kids?

For babies who will have limited understanding of Christmas and Santa Claus it is probably simpler to simply dress up and take a photo of your bub sitting on Santa’s lap. If your baby gets upset then Santa can easily make a swift exit.

A great way to start with small children is to read books with them about Santa. Local libraries have wonderful stocks of books that you can borrow freely. Simple stories help little kids develop a basic understanding of who Santa is and why he is special. In addition, using the Santa PNP (portable North Pole) allows your child to “meet” Santa in a home setting first before meeting him in real life. You can also write letters to give to Santa when you meet him, that tell him what your child would like for Christmas, and send a reply from Santa to your child. By involving them in simple preparation it will help them engage with the idea of actually meeting him.

When arranging for Santa to visit or make a special appearance it’s important to prepare your child. Don’t spring Santa on them. Let your child know they are going to meet a very special visitor. Ask them what they think Santa will wear and talk about how he has a big beard. Sometimes children will feel more secure of they have siblings or friends accompanying them, however you are the best gauge of your child’s needs.

For the parent playing Santa here is a simple list of things you can do to make this a special occasion with your child.

  • Have the camera ready beforehand.
  • Keep your visit nice and short. Santa has a hectic schedule so he isn’t likely to stay long anyway.
  • Make sure you have the correct costume. You can buy these fairly cheaply at local shops, or alternatively make it yourself.
  • Make sure you have your: “Ho! Ho! Ho!” down pat.
  • Call your child by name, it is a great way for them to feel connected to Santa.
  • Ask them what they would like for Christmas and be sure to write it down straight afterwards.
  • Remind them to leave milk and cookies out for your reindeer.

Playing Santa for your child is a role that will no doubt be source of great joy and laughter as your little one grows up. In the early years, some thoughtful preparation and planning will help to ensure you can capture some special memories to look back on down the track.