This is my 11th year getting little’s dressed up and heading out on a Santa photo adventure.  Given the holiday shopping crowds and number of other Mama’s attempting the same, put some planning into your trip before you leave home. Here are some helpful tips that I’ve learned (some the hard way!) that will hopefully keep your adventure fun and tear-free.

It’s not always realistic, but try to scout out the Santa location ahead of time. You can’t be sure you’ll see the same “friend of Santa” as my children call them (how else could Santa be everywhere and still mind the shop? They’ve decided his friends help and then give him the info at the end of their days) but the décor will be the same and varies widely among locations. Ask the Santa helpers if there’s a time that is slower/calmer for you to try and if Santa always wears the same outfit. I once wanted to walk away when I saw Santa’s “casual Friday” outfit but the kids were too little to risk going somewhere else without a meltdown.

Go when everyone will be at their freshest, including you. If you were up most of the night with a little one, it’s probably not your day to go.  Check the hours for Santa and then make your strategy. Be there when it opens if you don’t have a morning napper, schedule the trip soon after your little one wakes up and eats if you do.

Snacks are key! Keep them healthy and avoid sugar so your little’s don’t crash just as you hand them to the Jolly Old Elf.  You might need the sugar treat for a bribe at the end if they do well! Same with water...keep them and you hydrated.

If you have a crier, team up with the photographer – place them on Santa’s lap and then happily, slowly back away from them while talking, singing, whatever it takes. Once out of range, they need to snap the shot. If all else fails, include Mama and/or Daddy in the photo this year!

Bring an extra outfit. Nice clothes and coordinating outfits seem to be magnets for snack drips, mud puddles, diaper disasters.

I’m of the camp that the occasional bribe isn’t a bad thing. This is where the yummy sweet snack comes in handy. Have them earn it by playing nice with Santa.

Each year I’ve purchased the Santa photo, framed it, and started a gallery that comes out and is added to with each Santa visit. The kids and extended family love seeing them each year and its become one of my favorite parts of decorating our home for Christmas.  Even Lucy, our French bulldog, had her photo taken with Santa and is part of the gallery now. Don’t forget to find a Santa event for your pet also!

Lastly, be realistic as you hand your darling child/children to a complete stranger in a funny outfit.  It might stress you at the time if they melt down, but they probably won’t be traumatized as you swoop in to rescue them and it makes for an adorable and real photo. And those are the fun photos to bring out when they’re older!

Good luck and Happy Holidays!


December 01, 2016 — Diane Janowak

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