How to Get Your Kids to Smile for a Snap with Santa Claus

No crying.
No kicking.
No screaming.
No problem.

Whether your children are meeting Santa Claus for the first or the fifth time, it can be touch and go when it comes to their reaction. While outside of the temporary mall setting your little ones love the big guy in the red suit. In-person, knee-to-knee, it’s a different story. In addition to long lines and loud crowds, kids have to deal with an itchy beard, a round belly and a strange pair of hands. It’s not exactly the best circumstances for a picture perfect photo.


But, no need to worry in the winter wonderland. To capture a snap worthy of putting on the fridge and posting on social media, read on.

The Lead Up: switch up your routine to embrace the Christmas theme

Read books about Santa Claus (and his crew), sing Christmas carols, bake Christmas cookies, decorate a Christmas tree and send a wish list to the North Pole to prepare your kids for the meeting to come. Most of all, explain the magic of Christmas and the importance of making the nice list.

A Quick Ho-Ho-Hello: check in with the big guy to see him in action

Stop by the shopping center to say hello to Santa Claus before scheduling a visit. Quick tip: make sure to take the snap at a local (and familiar) center to create a sense of normalcy.

On the Clock: be mindful of the mall hours and foot traffic

Choose a quiet time to line up: start of the day, end of the day, or when other kids are in school.

Check the Weather: keep calm, cool and carry on

Try to avoid additional layers and minimize extras: hats, scarfs, mittens, boots and umbrellas to ensure a hands-free and hassle-free experience. Depending on the temperature, don’t bundle up – hat hair is never a good luck.

Play Dress Up: all class, no cry

Step up your dress up game to show your little ones that meeting Santa is a special event, which requires them to be on their best behavior. Feel free to get fancy; add the bowtie, the button-up and the ballerina shoes.

Points for Pack and Prep: be ready to tackle the time

If you’re only available to head to the mall during peak period, find ways to keep your kids all smiles while standing (and waiting) in line. From snack time to screen time, pack on the go goodies to entertain and distract. And bring their favorite toy, doll or stuffed animal to use as a point of reference during photo time.

It’s Your Turn To Meet Santa

Start by sitting with your child on your lap for a photo next to Santa. If they are calm after the first photo, try to sit them on the bench or Santa’s lap for the next photo. This is usually the moment your child will start to get extra nervous. There’s no reason to have them flip out, (although the crying pictures can be really adorable). If you aren’t in the mood to deal with a meltdown, point somewhere to distract your child and ask Santa to stand behind the bench or chair; when your child thinks it’s just you and them again, they will smile, just in time for Santa to be standing behind you with a hush sign! This trick is Mom-proven!

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