9 Clever Steps to Surviving the Santa Photos

It’s that time of year again, well, to be fair, it’s felt like Christmas from about September due to all the decorations and Christmas carols in the shopping centres.

But now, the big man in red is out and the kids want to see him. Sounds like a good idea, right? But we’ve all had those moments where your child is screaming bloody murder while the poor photographer is trying to take a ‘smiley’ photo and Santa is looking seriously unimpressed, all while you’re drenched in sweat wondering what you could have done to make this better. Here are some tips for going to take a Santa photo to avoid a meltdown from you or your kids.

Do Your Research

It might seem like you’re going overboard but finding the right set-up might make the biggest difference to your Santa experience. Some Santa photo pop-ups are just chaos, you need to log-in online, book your spot, find parking, ensure your child looks good, stand-in an over-crowded space all before even meeting Santa. If you think that the lead-up is more stressful than the main event, it may mean your photos will show that stress. Find a location that is relaxed, the atmosphere friendly, and won’t send you and the kids into a downward spiral.

The Right Santa For You

Not all Santas are created equal. Some are just wonderful men who love playing this iconic role while others, well, they’re in to cash in on their beer bellies and their beards. Find a location who’s Santa looks friendly, interacts with the kids and makes them feel comfortable. This will mean you won’t have a grumpy Santa in the pics and you’ll also have someone who will be able to cope with a screaming baby in the photo.

Suss the Queue Out

If the queue looks long… this is a tag team mission. Get Daddy to stay in the queue with his mobile phone on the ready while you take the kids for a milkshake elsewhere. Having them wait in the queue will inspire loads of nagging and increases the potential for someone getting in trouble before they’ve gone to sit on Santa’s knee. You might also want to check what Santa’s peak-hour times appear to be and avoid them like the plague! Go during the week and during school hours if your kids are littlies. It’s a mission and the aim is to get in quickly and get back out!

The Outfit

A couture tutu might look picture perfect online but if your child isn’t comfortable, it won’t make for a happy Santa experience. Pick something fun and festive, but keep in mind the photo isn’t a high fashion shoot, it’s a fun experience for your little one.


The crappy toy the photographer has might not be enough to distract your bub let alone get them to crack a smile. Bring your own beloved toys to give your little one some comfort or bring maracas, bubbles, shakers, props to make them smile. Don’t underestimate the power of a snack. If a packet of bikkies will keep your kid happy, do it! Take the photo of them chowing down, it’s way better than a cranky one!

Come prepared

Sometimes no matter what, all they want is Mummy or Daddy, so be ready to jump in front of the camera and sit next to Santa. This means wear something you wouldn’t mind being photographed in. Wear some minimal makeup to hide any dark circles under the eyes and a bit of mascara and gloss and you’ll be ready for your own close up!

It might get a little whacky!

Prepare yourself to do a silly dance, make funny faces or even make fart noises to capture that awesome smile. But aside from that, some Santa pop-ups have some camouflage fabrics or props that will mean your child will be sitting with you but you’ll be hidden or camouflaged out of the photo, things could get a little weird, but just go with it!

Hire a Santa

If going to the local shopping centre to get your Santa shot seems like too much to handle for your kids, why not hire a professional photographer? Photographer’s often have special deals for mini shoots for Christmas and some even supply Santa. It’s a great way to ensure your photos are unique and will take away the stress of waiting in line with the kids at the shops.

Accept the kicking, screaming and tears

We’ve all had at least one picture with Santa taken where we look absolutely miserable and laugh about it. Sometimes there’s just nothing we can do, kids are kids and they’ll cry if they want to. To make a memory of it why not join in the photo with the other siblings and all pretend to cry. It certainly will make one unforgettable Santa experience.

Avatar of Tania Pradun

Autobiographical blogger, enthusiastic dancer and karaoke singer Tania Pradun brings her own brand of reality as a mum and entrepreneur to MumCentral. Well and truly in the ‘sandwich generation’ between teenage boys and ageing parents, Tania’s writing style is searingly authentic, making her readers laugh, cry and rage at the universal challenges today’s generation of parents face. Tania runs her booming Adelaide-based catering business Amazing Grazers from home, and in her ‘spare time’ attracts millions of views on TikTok for her grazing platter how-to’s. You can find her on Instagram @amazing_grazers and TikTok @amazinggrazers

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