Not all Santa visits are created equal. Here are tips to generate a successful Santa visit:

  1. Talk about Santa. 
    Read books, watch movies, and, in general, make sure your child knows who Santa is and that he’s “our friend.” Our kids especially like Paw Patrol: Pups Save Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and The Polar Express when it comes to getting to know the big guy. 
  2. Let older siblings or friends lead by example.
    If your kid doesn’t have older siblings, borrow some. Have older kids high five, hug, talk to and sit on Santa’s lap — all within view of your little one — showing that Santa is nice, friendly and not some creepy, scary, old dude. 
  3. Offer bribes.
    One option is to have a toy ready (unwrapped is actually best) that you know your kid wants. For our oldest son this was a new Thomas train. Santa gave it to Charles after talking to him. Charles associated Santa with positive good thoughts…and presents. Plus he was willing to sit on Santa’s lap if it meant getting the train.
    Candy is a good second option – if your kid is a candy eater. Our third son, Bennett was terrified of Santa since we forgot to follow our own advice and do these things until the second year. Needless to say, the first year was rough with terrified clinging by the end of the season. The second year we bribed Bennett with candy canes and he’s loved Santa ever since.
  4. Do a trial run.
    The Quad Cities is such a great place to do some trial runs. Santa is seemingly everywhere. I highly recommend Santa Claus in the Southpark Mall in Moline. I’m not sure we’ve ever waited in line longer than 5 minutes. We don’t buy the photos, and it’s free to visit and talk with Santa as much as you’d like. Did I mention, it’s free?! If you know you have a Santa event with great photo opportunities on the horizon, try going for a practice run beforehand.
  5. Practice what to ask.
    For younger kids, this helps because they are nervous. For older kids, once they understand that Santa might bring what they ask for, mentioning the wrong thing or forgetting what to say can be traumatizing. Talk to you kids about what they want to ask Santa for and maybe, help guide them, so they aren’t set up for disappointment. This year, our seven-year-old wants a grappling hook (are you kidding me?) and a million dollar bill (join the club). We are going to do some some considerable talking prior to sitting on Santa’s lap (although I do kind of want to know what Santa will say when faced with a grappling hook request!).

    Do you have other tips? Please share! Santa navigating moms will take all the help we can get.

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