The Christmas season is almost upon us! It’s that time of year when we listen to Christmas tunes, deck the halls, and bake tons of wonderful goodies! And perhaps most exciting of all, it’s time for Santa Claus! Santa is such a big part of this holiday. He symbolizes all that is good with our world - giving to others, goodwill toward others, and cheer. It’s no surprise then, that one of the greatest Christmas traditions is a picture with Santa!
These can either be really great, or turn out to be a complete disaster when you’re working with a toddler. Look at it from their perspective though. How would you feel if you got plopped on the lap of some giant who happens to be a stranger? It really is such a strange concept, waiting in line at a mall to sit on someone’s lap and have your picture taken with them…hmm… That being said, millions flock to the mall every year to do just that! With everything else child related, this can be a tricky situation, so Ruffles and Tutu’s wants to help you out! Here are some tips for getting the absolute BEST Santa pictures!!
1) Timing is Everything No one wants to deal with a grumpy toddler, not even the toddler themselves! Help everyone out by making sure your sweetie has been well fed and has slept. It might seem like a good idea, time wise, to go during the early afternoon, while everyone else’s children are taking a nap, but now is not the time to be a hero, my friend! A toddler who has been fed and who has slept is a happy toddler! Maybe bring some snacks with you too, just in case the line is long.
2) Bring a special toy to keep them calm. Sitting on a stranger’s lap can be pretty scary. Bringing a special, familiar toy might just make it a little less scary. You might bring a favorite paci (the ones with a little stuffed toy attached to it are really cute AND effective!) or even a favorite stuffed animal. Maybe even surprising your little with a Christmas stuffed animal before meeting Santa. Maybe even just the newness of a soft, squishy toy will help to calm their nerves.
3) Pose as a group if possible. No one tells you this when you find out you’re going to be a parent, but you might have to get your picture taken with Santa Claus! Like we said, siting on a strangers lap can be scary. If you’re there, maybe it will be a little less terrifying for them. Maybe everything will be okay and you won’t have to step in, or MAYBE you will. Plan for either way.
4) Don’t try to force a smile. Think about it: You’re really irritated because you’re being forced to do something you don’t want to do, and then you’re asked to be happy about it. It rings true for adults and toddlers alike. If you can get a picture without your kiddos freaking out, call that a win!! It would be wonderful if we all had angelic children who smile on cue, who are happy to go with the flow, but, if we’re being honest, only a small percent of the population is that lucky. Encourage the kiddo to look at the camera (or at least at Santa without fear in their eyes!) and snap the picture.
5) Prepare your kiddos for meeting Santa as much as possible. Maybe your child has met Santa every year, or maybe it’s their first time. Depending on how little your little is, it’s possible that they may not even remember meeting the Man in Red. And when you think about it, he can be kind of scary! He’s tall and has a large beard (THAT freaks a lot of kids out right from the get go!) and he probably has a really loud voice. Chances are - your child is not going to be used to all someone that fits this description. If you have time, you can prepare your kiddo by reading books about Santa and talking about him, maybe point him out at the mall and talk about meeting him on a day before you actually get the picture taken. If your child is able to ask questions, answer them as best you can. Maybe you can have a full on conversation all about Santa! His story and what he represents. If you don’t have time for all of that shoulder work beforehand, show your child Santa before getting in line and perhaps walk around the mall a little bit. Come back to get in line, and talk about Santa while you wait to meet him. Make sure your kiddo understands that it’s okay to be nervous, but not to worry too much. They’ll meet Santa, take the picture, and survive the whole thing!
6) Back into the picture. A really helpful tip if you have little kiddos is to back them into the picture. Hold your kiddo facing you, walk up to Santa and place your child on his lap, and then RUN LIKE THE WIND!!! Back yourself out of the picture quickly and maybe, just maybe, you can get a picture of your kiddo on Santa’s lap before they realize you’re gone! Maybe they’ll even laugh to see you acting so silly. A giggling baby in a picture with Santa is always a great moment to capture!
7) Try again if necessary. Some kiddos might need to get a layout of the land before they are really ready to meet Santa. It can be helpful to older toddlers and kids to actually watch someone sitting on Santa’s lap and seeing what the whole experience is before they really know how they feel about the whole thing. If it doesn’t work out the first time, try again later. Maybe later on that day, or maybe even on a completely different day! You can even try a week or more later! Just remember, though, the closer we get to Christmas, the longer the line is going to be.
8) Get real cozy with the idea of a funny picture instead of a pretty picture. Even with all of the greatest tips (you’re welcome!!!) and the best preparation, there are just some kiddos who, no matter what, are going to be terrified of Santa! Or maybe it’s not that they are scared of Santa, maybe they just don’t like be in such an unfamiliar situation, or being able to see Mom and Dad, and not being held by Mom and Dad. If this is the case for your little, and you can’t get them to calm down, you might just have to take a deep breath and decide to be okay with a funny (or tear filled, depending on how you look at it) picture. It will still be a memory for years to come, but maybe not the memory you wanted. You can always try again next year. Just tell yourself that it will get better as they get older.
9) Be flexible with poses. Let’s face it - some kids just are not going to want to sit on Santa’s lap - and that’s okay. Maybe they think they’re too old for it, or maybe it just makes them uncomfortable. Whatever the case, you can still get a great Santa picture! Your child can stand next to Santa or sit on the bench next to him. You can even go for a goofier photo and have them give each other a high five! Whatever it takes to make your child more comfortable, go for it! This may also be a good reason for parents, or siblings, other family members and/or friends to be in the picture as well. Pose all the people around Santa!!
10) Plan the outfits just right! How ever the pose or the smile turns out, you still want this picture to be a lasting memory for your family. Picking the right outfit really helps. Not sure where to start? Try to scope out the scene before you go. Some mall’s have lime green and bright red as their Christmas colors, some have more traditional ruby and evergreen colors. Plan an outfit (or outfits depending on who is in the picture) to go with those colors, or at least not clash. You also don’t want to just wear everyday clothes if you can help it. Do you want to look at that picture for years to come and think, “Why did I let them wear THAT for pictures?” As always, Ruffles and Tutu’s is here to help you in this department! How cute would a little tutu look in that picture?!?! How vintage and creative would a ruffled dress look? And what about head bands?!?! Oh, we just get SO excited thinking of all the possibilities! We hope that these tips have helped and that you truly do walk away with the BEST Santa picture! Share your experience and even your pictures in the comments section! We’d love to see how they turned out!
Audra Harris is a freelance writer and a teacher turned stay at home mom. You can read about all of her misadventures and parenting ideas on her own blog: suddenlystayinhome.wordpress.com.