Ever wonder what it’s like to be a mall Santa, to be adored by children and adults alike?
It takes a lot of dedication to put in the long hours of dealing screaming kids, sticky conversations and that hot Santa suit.
“There’s no harder job in all of Christmas than being the mall Santa,” Paul Sheehan, who worked as a mall Santa in New Hampshire told Mental Floss. “Between Black Friday and Christmas Eve at 3 pm, I had seen over 17,000 kids. Someone in a bigger city, they’re doing twice and three times that.”
- They go to Santa college – there’s a good chance that your child is sitting on the lap of a Santa trained by Santa University where the undergo background checks and several rounds of interviews.
- The always stay in character – that’s rule #1
- The know where the mall’s secret bathrooms are – avoiding public restrooms is curcial
- They secretly swap – some malls hire two Santa’s with matching physical traits
- They get a body guard – they’re like rock stars this time of the year!
- There’s a right and wrong way to bleach a beard – it’s best to begin the process in October
- The money’s good – one of the top Santa’s said he made $30,000 in 6 weeks!
- Seniority helps – the more seniority the bigger the paycheck
- Some know sign language – sign language basics are taught at Santa University
- There’s a secret Santa greeting – if a Santa lookalike answers to “brother in red” you know you’re talking to a fellow St. Nick
- A round belly is not required – padding is not frowned upon
- Condiments are to be avoided – ketchup and mustard are no-nos before showtime, and breath-mints are a must
- They have to study – Santa needs to know about all of the hottest toys, the plots of all the holiday movies and never, ever forget the names of all of his reindeer
- “I’ll ask Mrs. Claus” is code for “I don’t want to answer that” – you know Santa is at a loss when he brings up the wife
- They’re not allowed to promise – the most they can say is “I’ll try.”
- They hate crying baby photos – crying pics aren’t any fun for Santa or the child
- They wish you’d do the heavy lifting – if you want to make Santa happy, place your child on his lap yourself.
- Not every mall Santa can nail the signature laugh – there are some Santa’s who just can’t “Ho Ho Ho!” no matter how hard they try
- Kids’ toy preferences are changing – non-gender specific toys are being requested more often these days. It’s not unusual for boys to ask for an Easy-Bake Oven, and girls to ask for LEGOS or tool sets.
- The professionals have liability insurance – hopefully they never have to use it, but it’s a wise thing to have.
- It’s all about being a good listener – it’s the most important part of Santa’s job.