How to Have a Great Santa Claus Home Visit
Now that Christmas is around the corner, many families book jolly ol’ Saint Nick for surprise home visits. Here’s a list of tips to help your home visit go off without a hitch.
What to Expect from Your Visit from Santa Claus
Every home visit is different, but here are some things you might expect:
A special entrance from Santa
Meet and greet
“Chair time” when kids (and adults!) can sit with Santa individually
Q and As with Santa
Performances such as singing, storytelling, or reading The Night Before Christmas
Playing games such as Santa Says
Handing out gifts
A hearty goodbye and magical exit
Before Your Visit from Santa Claus
Plan and stay in touch with Santa before the day arrives so your home visit is a success.
Talk with your Santa Claus
Your home visit with Santa is not his first sleigh ride, and he often has a wealth of tips and ideas that can help you. Every family has traditions and preferences, so let Santa know what you’d like to include in your home visit. Call, chat, and finalize your plans before the season is too busy.
Share details about the event
Santa will need to know how many people will be there and what ages. Be sure to share the children's names; Santa will do his best to remember them. You can introduce them simply, such as, “Santa, this is Thomas, who is seven years old, and Emily just turned nine.”
Consider the amount of time needed
A typical home visit lasts about thirty minutes and can go up to an hour if you have many guests. Home visits that are longer than an hour tend to lose their magic. Engage the kids in an activity while Santa departs at the appropriate time.
Share special considerations
Santa is happy to accommodate special needs for those he visits. He should also know about language barriers or cultural considerations ahead of time.
Make sure Santa can get in
If you live in a gated community or have a special entrance in mind, share access codes and directions ahead of time.
Stay in communication
Santa needs the cell phone number of someone designated to wait for his text message that he is ready to enter. Your point person should ensure their phone is fully charged, keep an eye on their messages, and be prepared to help if there are any issues.
Think about reminders of sadness or loss
If there’s been the passing of a loved one recently or someone is currently overseas, it helps Santa to know, just to avoid touching on issues. And if you have someone missing from the event, Santa could help you record a special message for them.
Don’t forget the elves!
Does your family participate in “Elf on the Shelf”? Santa loves being “in” on this tradition! But it helps Santa know the name of family elves and what activities they have been doing when no one is watching.
Preparing for the Day of Your Visit from Santa Claus
Several things to consider as you prepare your home for Santa on the day of your event.
Reserve a spot for Santa’s sleigh
Parking is essential, especially if it’s limited (or your house is on a hill). Ask your Santa if they need a space reserved for them. One excellent method: Have someone park in Santa’s spot, then right before he arrives, pull the car out and leave a sign that says “Reserved for Santa.”
Prepare your seating arrangements.
After Santa enters, he should have a designated place to sit. The best kind of chair for Santa is a strong one, preferably with a straight back and without arms. When Santa has someone in his lap, he needs his feet flat on the floor. A dining room table chair will often work fine, and you can dress it up with a pretty Christmas blanket. Forest green or dark blue looks great in photos!
Where to put Santa’s chair
We recommend putting it near the Christmas tree or someplace well-lit with a festive background. Avoid putting Santa near the roaring fireplace; he’s already hot. Keeping the house a little cooler is excellent for Ol’ St. Nick. Avoid putting him in front of lots of glass because you’ll get flash bounce and glare in your photos. Arrange the chair so the kids can sit down in front of him.
Think about background noise
A Christmas performance is for the whole family. When the music blares or the crowd is loud and rowdy, your guests lose some of Santa’s magic if they can’t hear him. While Santa is there, have everybody join in and have your revelers tone it down until Santa heads for the sleigh.
Have your payment ready
Place monies (either payment or tip) in a Christmas Card envelope to not risk a child seeing the exchange.
During Your Visit from Santa Claus
Parties can always get a little hectic, so stay on track and keep your guests happy with these tips.
Be a friendly host
Introduce Santa to kids and adults; Christmas is for the kid in all of us!
Help Santa stay on time
Santa may have other families to visit, so be mindful of his dedicated time with you.
Assist with the details
Understand that Santa won’t be able to memorize every name. If you have a tradition, like a particular cookie or nickname, or customs, let your Santa know in advance and again at the event. Maybe remind him “of that time Santa brought something special” if this would be meaningful to the audience.
Be upbeat and get everyone to join in on songs, stories, and other activities. If you show enthusiasm, others will too!
Coordinate the kids
As cute as it might be, sometimes it’s best not to put all the kids together. The younger, squirmier kiddos should stay in their parent’s laps. If a child is having a meltdown, have someone assigned to help them go somewhere where they can calm down.
Remember that all performances have unique pacing and rhythm based on your guests and home atmosphere. Be flexible and allow the timing to flow naturally.
Passing Out Gifts
Presents are the most significant part of Christmas! The big man in red is a pro at gift-giving, but there are a few things you can do to help him out.
Make sure Santa can find your gifts
Put your presents in a large plastic trash bag marked with a bright ribbon. Make sure it’s easily accessible and can be lifted into Santa’s sack. If there are many or extremely heavy presents, get some elf hats and have a few helpers meet Santa outside. Remember, if you cannot carry all the gifts simultaneously, it might be hard to have Santa take them simultaneously.
Don’t count on labels
Write the name clearly in large print with a marker directly onto the wrapping paper. Labels usually fall off in Santa’s bag. If this is a group gathering, make sure you can distinguish between people with the same name. If a gift recipient’s name is unique, have someone help Santa with pronunciation.
Have backup gifts
If this event includes many families, have a few small backup gifts if someone did not get the word. Stuffed animals and gift cards work well. You could even pass them, saying, “Oh, Santa, you dropped these.”
Decide how to open gifts
Of course, you can just hand them out and open them. Little kids will often just do this anyway. But another fun way is called a “Countdown and Out.” Santa hands out the presents, but everyone waits to open them until Santa leaves. Santa starts the countdown, saying, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Merry Christmas!” Then the paper flies! The advantage is that Santa leaves on a high point, and no one tries to follow him to see the reindeer. Assign someone to make sure the kids don’t follow him outside.
Taking Photos with Santa Claus
Meeting Santa always needs photographic evidence, so ensure you’re ready for this vital task. Don’t want the pressure on you? Hire a photographer instead!
Charge your batteries
Have all your cameras and smartphones ready, fully charged, connected to wi-fi, and prepared before the event begins.
Take photos first
Try to get the photos done early in the event. You’ll have time to get everything you want, and folks are still fresh with the wonder of the visit. Then you can relax and just visit!
Photos with pets
Santa loves photos with pets but must be careful not to get pet hair or dander on his suit. If Santa is visiting someone else that day who is allergic to pets, he may ask you to hold your pet for the photo and stand or sit nearby you and your furry companion.
Santa Claus Reminders
Santa is not likely to tell children they are on the naughty list, even if you ask him to.
Santa is not likely to promise a child one particular toy.
Santa is not likely to eat or drink beyond a few nibbles or sips as he must keep his beard pristine and his white gloves stain easily.
Santa will not accept any drink that is alcoholic. Remember, he has to drive the sleigh.
After Your Visit with Santa Claus
The holidays aren't over until all the gifts have been passed out and the wrapping paper has been cleaned up.
Give Reviews and Referrals
If you enjoy your visit with Santa Claus, leave a great review and share contact information with friends, family, and colleagues.
Share and Tag Photos on Social Media
And if possible, send Santa any photos that Santa can share publicly on his social media pages. That way, you help support the Arts and make even more Christmas magic possible for those in your community!
Book for the following year
Many families celebrate the holiday season with the same Santa year after year. A successful Santa can have over half of his prime time visits booked by the 12th day of Christmas! Book early to reserve your spot on Santa’s busy schedule.