Are you ready for the challenge of getting a good Santa photo this year?
Some say it’s impossible to get great Santa photos until your children are at least four years old. This is the age when kids will obediently smile for the camera and see Santa as more of a friendly Christmas personality than a strange old man who dresses a bit funny.
However it’s still possible to get great Christmas photos of your kids with Santa at any age, without them looking like reindeer caught in the headlights.
Tried and tested tips on getting a good Santa photo
Aim to get to the photo site early in the festive season, or at least early in the day. That way, Santa will have some spare time on his hands and will be happy to have a chat and muck around with the kids, making them feel more comfortable with the idea of sitting on a strange man’s lap and smiling for the camera. Getting there early also means you’ll have more time to find out what your child really really wants for Christmas (even though they’re likely to change their mind every five minutes until Christmas Eve).
Find a ‘good’ Santa Claus
Not only is a good Santa Claus warm and friendly with sparkly eyes, he’ll also be happy to let you have a practice run and won’t pressure you to buy thirty copies of a picture of your child blinking. A good Santa knows that children aren’t always in the right mood for smiling and he’ll be keen for you to come back (and spend money) when the kids are in a better mood! Santa’s elf attendants should also let you take the time to view all the images and make sure you’re happy you’ve chosen the best shots to take home, at a price you’re comfortable with.
If you’re having your photos taken at a shopping centre, check out the photos they have already taken, the setting may look magical but the photo may not be.
Lower your expectations
If your child isn’t in the mood to sit on Santa’s lap, no gentle words of encouragement, bribes or threats of no Santa visits are going to change that fact. Don’t try and force the matter – it will only end in tears, grey hairs for you, and a potentially expensive therapy bill to address your child’s Santa phobias. Simply try again another day when you have a better chance of getting a shot of your kids looking happy and natural.
Always be prepared
You never know when your child’s desire to have photos taken with Santa will strike, so make sure you’re always prepared. Keep some wet wipes, a brush, and a clean shirt or dress in your bag, then you’re always good to go.
Also be prepared to queue. The closer to Christmas it is, the longer the line for Santa photos will be. It’s handy to have some snacks or toys on hand to keep kids occupied and entertained while you wait.
Timing is everything
It’s best to avoid joining a queue altogether if you know that the timing isn’t quite right for photos… If it’s almost nap-time or lunch time and your kids are starting to act up – just forget it! You’re better off leaving it for another day when your kids are relaxed and you can get that perfect smiley Santa photo.
Ignorance is bliss
When it comes to babies, the best way to get good Santa photos is to hold their eye contact and sit them on Santa’s knee with their back to him so they don’t even realise what’s going on. Then slowly move out of shot, keeping them engaged the whole time (“Look at me, look at me”). Once your child realises what’s going on – that their mum has left them on the lap of a strange man with bizarre facial hair – they’ll either burst into tears or become so fascinated by Santa’s beard that there’s no way you’ll ever get them to look at the camera again.
The older your children are, the more likely they are to stay in position. So line the older kids up first and plop the youngest ones in at the last minute. Unless, of course, they’re older than 12… When there’s a crowd of people watching, teenagers are likely to get embarrassed and would rather die than pose for photos with their younger siblings on Santa’s knee.
Get ready to join in
It may help young kids conquer their Santa-phobia if you jump in the picture too. Just keep up the blow dries and always have some lip gloss on hand so you’re not caught in a frantic search for a quick touch-up!
D.I.Y. Santa photos
If all else fails, take your own Santa photos at home. You can buy a cute Santa hat and then take a “Santa” photo of your child in the comfort of your own house. No queues, no beard, no fuss! Everything is much more relaxed as there is no pressure to perform and you’re not frustrated by endless queues of other rowdy kids and impatient mums waiting their turn. Plus your photos are free!