As December winds on, professional Santas are in high-demand. For those who answer the call, entertainers insurance is a must. Being insured, however, is not the only preparation you must take.

With Christmas-time and the holiday season approaching, kids across the world are getting ready to send their requests to the big man, Santa Claus. If you’re a professional Santa, you have an opportunity to be an important part of a child’s holiday experience.

You know what they say, “with great power comes great responsibility.” As the one and only Santa Claus, you need to be on top of your game for all events on your schedule. To this end, we’ve compiled 7 keys to help you prepare for the season. Some of these tips will help you perfect the job, while others will make sure that you remain safe from liability claims this holiday season.

1. Watch Your Accessories

Just donning the red suit and white beard isn’t enough. You don’t want kids asking why you’re wearing New Balance shoes or why you have the same watch as their dad. Kids and parents alike wait hours for an immersive experience. The effectiveness of this experience starts and ends with you. Head to toe, you have to look the part.

2. Always Be with Others

If you’re a professional Santa at a mall or a party, it’s easy to remain in the view of countless others. If you’re playing Santa on a smaller stage; say, a visit to a hospital wing or a single family party, it will require a bit more attention on your part to make sure other adults are in the room.

The fact of the matter is that you’re an adult working primarily to entertain kids. Often, the kids you’re entertaining won’t be kids you know. In these types of situations, it is always better to be safe than sorry, as any questions that may arise will not be covered by insurance. No matter what, insist that there are other adults, preferably the kids’ parents, in the room at all times. Additionally, make sure beforehand that all adults involved know that you’re trustworthy and have had a background check. It’s best to leave no room for doubt.

3. Don’t Be Pushy

We’ve all seen (and probably have been a part of) a picture of a bawling child on Santa’s lap, clearly terrified out of his or her wits. While these pictures have become photo album staples, as a Santa, you don’t want to cause a traumatic experience for any child.

If a child is being shy, don’t call them out on it or pressure them into sitting with you for a picture. Your best course of action is to always defer to parents. If they’re going to drop a screaming toddler onto your lap for a picture, so be it, but that needs to be their decision to make; not yours.

4. Know Your Santa History

Being a professional Santa is about more than just looking the part. You need to know Santa’s backstory. This doesn’t mean you need a Daniel Day Lewis-esque method acting performance, but for the sake of the kids, you should be dedicated to the part.

Additionally, you need to be prepared for questions. What are you going to say when a kid asks how old you are, or which reindeer is your favorite? A lot of children know you’re not “the real Santa Claus,” but many still think that you are the man himself. You need to be informed enough on Santa history so as to not disappoint them.

5. Don’t Overdo It

A common mistake adults of all walks of life make is underestimating the intelligence of children. If you’re really laying the Santa act on thick, they’ll key in on the acting job you’re doing. Again, while you’ll talk to some children who are under the genuine impression that you are the one and only Santa Claus, many may know that’s not the case or may be very suspicious.

For kids of both groups, it’s important to create the perfect Santa Claus experience for them, and that starts with you playing a realistic character. Don’t “ho, ho, ho” like a cartoon character—you’ll startle kids and dampen the experience. Take some time to refine your voice and mannerisms; if Santa Claus were real, and you were him, how would you speak and act?

6. Be Ready to Answer the “Tough” Questions

When a child earnestly asks you for a brand new PlayStation 4, what will you say? How about when they ask you how you travel around the world and visit every house in just one night? When a child says that they can’t think of what they want right now, but that they’ll call you later and ask for Santa’s phone number, you need to have an answer on deck.

If you can, take cues from the parents. If not, it’s best to give very general answers. Don’t tell a child that you’re bringing them the exact gift they asked for, especially if you suspect it’s not a reasonable request. If a child asks about the intricacies of Santa’s job, give a simple answer that won’t contradict what their parents (or last year’s Santa) may have told them.

7. Be Ready With Entertainers Insurance

As lighthearted as a professional Santa gig can be, it does not come without its share of risk. A tree may fall, a child may trip, and, if you’ve really committed yourself to perfect your “bowl full of jelly,” a chair may break (no judgment here). Protect yourself against this risk with Entertainers Insurance from Insurance Canopy. With plans starting at just $59, you can make sure you’re covered by one of the most reliable partners in the industry.

Have you run into any of the above issues as you’ve “Santa-ed?” What other tips would you give? Let us know in the comments below, and check out our website to purchase your entertainers insurance plan today!