Parenting and Beyond

3 Genius Tips for Getting the Best Pictures with Santa Claus

We all know how difficult it can be to snag a great picture with Santa Claus. These tips will help you and your kids have a fun day AND get a great photo!!

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We took the boys to visit Santa Claus on Monday. Let that sentence just sink in for a minute. If read that and went “Ugghh” it’s because you know just how stressful taking a few simple pictures with Santa Claus can be!

So far I have had 5 years of Santa photos, and only one of them contains no screaming children. When Bubba was six months old he sat on Santa’s lap and gave us the biggest smile I’d ever seen from him. And since then he sits on Santa’s lap and acts like I’m about to ask Santa to take him back to the North Pole!

Until this year, this year he actually smiled AND talked to Santa. But of course Nugget has recently hit that “stranger danger” phase so he’s screaming bloody murder in this year’s picture. Arms stretched out, scrunched up red face, screaming his head off. It’s a memory I won’t soon forget.

Now, I’ll be honest, I’m not one of those moms who insists on the perfect Santa picture. I think the “screaming baby on Santa’s lap” picture is kind of a right of passage. It’s such a classic moment so I choose to embrace it. And maybe, God willing, one day all of my kids will sit on Santa’s lap and act like I’m not torturing them. But until then, I have developed a little bit of a system. Remember, the goal isn’t to get a perfect photo, just the best photo.

What’s the difference, you ask? The difference is simply this: I’m not going to force my children to sit on a stranger’s lap and act like they like it. BUT I’m going to do everything I can to get them at their best in that moment. This might mean they are standing next to Santa or I have to be in the picture, but I’m aiming for their best. And that’s the picture we’ll get and I’ll cherish for years to come.

Make Reservations for Pictures with Santa Claus

The best Santa near us is at a local mall and he. is. popular. In fact, popular might be an understatement. He’s the real deal and people know it. We’re talking an actual white beard and an actual belly like a bowl full of jelly.

I’ve heard parents say they have stood in line for over 2 hours to get one quick picture!! Can you imagine?! There’s absolutely no way my boys would stand in line for 2 hours, I don’t care who’s at the end of it.

So we make reservations ahead of time. It doesn’t necessarily equal no wait time, but it cuts the wait time significantly. The last thing you want is cranky, hungry, tired kids right before the big moment!

And here’s my not-so-secret tip: go BEFORE Thanksgiving. Once Thanksgiving hits you’ll never get to Santa in under an hour. But most people don’t even realize some malls and stores have Santa available for photos in early November!

Not all places will welcome reservations, but do your research! This can help keep your kids happy and smiling for that special picture.

Consider the Best Time of Day

If your kids have lunch at 11:30 and a nap at noon, do NOT try to visit Santa at 11:00 am. There’s no way it’s going to go well. Take them when they are at their absolute best.

I prefer morning activities with my boys, but we couldn’t get a reservation in the morning. So I scheduled our pictures for nearly 4:00pm in the afternoon. They had both taken a good nap and they weren’t starving. We came prepared with snacks and drinks for both, and we ate while we waited in line.

By the time we made it to Santa neither boy was hungry, thirsty, or tired. Bubba was more than ready to tell Santa everything he wanted for Christmas and even though Nugget cried, it wasn’t because it was a bad time! It’s just because he’s almost one and pretty much is never happy unless mommy is holding him.

See what I mean about getting the best picture possible? I knew going into this no matter what I did Nugget would most likely cry. BUT I planned the picture at a time when he was awake and alert and that’s all I could do.

Save the Cute Outfit for the Last Minute

I’m definitely one of those moms that buys the cute, coordinating outfits for the pictures with Santa Claus. Yup, I admit it. I spent way too much time walking around Baby Gap asking random women and the cashier which outfits went together the best.

But two adorably cute sweaters later, my boys were the most handsome kids to ever meet Santa. (I might be a tad biased.)

Now if your kids are anything like mine, they could get dirty in a white padded room, so the longer they stay in their outfits the more likely they are to ruin it somehow. It’s science.

So we put them in jeans and t-shirts and saved the sweaters for the last minute. That way they aren’t hot and complaining about the “itchy” shirt AND I don’t have to worry about crumbs, spills, or spit-up. No matter how much they scream and cry their outfits will look good if it kills me!

And of course, no matter what, remember to embrace the moment.

Meeting Santa is a big deal for kiddos, it’s something they look forward to for a long time, don’t ruin it by grumbling about how long the line is or trying to take them when they’re hungry or tired.

Choose to share in this special moment with your children while you can because it won’t be long before they outgrow Santa.

Do you have any killer tips for pictures with Santa Claus? Share your winning tips in the comments below!

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two children sitting on the lap of santa claus, all three are wearing red Christmas hats, the children are whispering into Santa's ear; the text above the photo reads "3 genius tips for getting the best pictures with santa claus"