If we stop and think about it, taking our children to an overcrowded mall and having them stand in a long line to sit on a large, bearded, strange man’s lap and smile pretty so we can capture the perfect photo sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, it’s because it is, or at least it can be.
Fortunately, if you are one of those Christmas celebrating mom’s who has “pictures with Santa” on her holiday to-do list, a disaster can usually be avoided (or at least a major meltdown turned into a manageable one) if you follow a few savvy suggestions.
1. Work up to your visit
Visit the mall before you plan to do your photos. Let your child checkout Santa and see other kids getting their photos taken. Talk about what your child wants to tell Santa he’d like for Christmas. Even if you plan to do photos the same day, do a walk by, then some shopping and stop and visit with Santa on your way out.
2. Time your visit right
Taking a hungry, overtired child to see Santa is just an all around bad idea. Well-fed, well-rested children are less likely to have a meltdown. Consider visiting Santa after your child has had a snack and nap.
3. Offer distractions
Bring along a special treat for your child to have while in line. Encourage him to bring his lovely. Purchase an inexpensive, small toy (or bring one along) for him to show Santa. Anything to take a little attention off your child may help make the experience less stressful.
4. Don’t put scary thoughts into your child’s head
By simply saying “Santa won’t hurt you” you are opening the door to the possibility that hurting him could have been an option. Instead, talk about how fun it can be to visit with Santa and how you enjoyed doing so as a child.
5. Be prepared to be in the photo
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting on Santa’s lap and in the photo. Throw a little lip gloss on and be sure your shirt doesn’t totally clash with your child’s before making your trip to the mall.
While capturing that idealistic moment of our child whispering his Christmas wishes into Santa’s ear may be what we aim for, if we end up with a child who is smiling at the camera, or at least doesn’t have tears streaming down his face, we’ve experienced success.