Are you an aspiring Santa Claus looking to spread Christmas cheer this holiday season? Think you have what it takes to go pro as a Kris Kringle impersonator, but not sure where to start?
Then you’ve come to the right place!
Each year, professional Santas play an important role in celebrating the holiday season. Children go to see them to share what they want for Christmas and get their picture taken. They may even be hired to attend company parties or make special home visits.
But how exactly do you get your career as Santa Claus up and running? After all, there’s a big difference between throwing on a red suit, hat, and a fake beard and actually making money off your Santa skills.
Luckily, we’ve answered some of the most common questions about getting into the St. Nick business here in this Q&A. If you’re ready to learn how to be Santa Claus, including the cost of getting started, how much money you might expect to make, and how to find jobs that pay, read on!
Q: What makes someone a good Santa?
Being a professional Santa goes beyond simply looking the part, although as we’ll see later that isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. There’s a lot more to your success in this business than putting on a suit and growing out your beard.
In fact, some people even go to Santa school to learn how to perfect their craft. Beyond receiving training on hair, makeup, and hygiene, Santas will also learn basic sign language phrases to better communicate with deaf children and adults, including “What do you want for Christmas?” and “Santa loves you.”
One of the most important qualities you can have as Santa is customer service skills. Santas interact with people for hours at a time, which can be tiring even if you’re outgoing and love what you do. Maintaining a positive attitude and being patient with the people you meet, whether they’re children at the mall or adults at a holiday parade, will take you far.
Another important skill is knowing how to be photogenic, especially if you are going to be taking pictures with children. You don’t have to be the winner of America’s Next Top Model, but you should learn how to smile with your eyes and not just your mouth to look convincingly jolly in pictures.
This may seem obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning: the best Santas are great with children. They know how to talk to them and keep the conversation going, but they also know when to dial it back and not push when a child is nervous or shy.
Last, but not least, all good Santas love Christmas. If you’re passionate about this holiday and want to bring a little magic to peoples’ days by impersonating a beloved character, then being a professional Santa Claus might be the perfect fit for you.
Q: How much does it cost to be Santa and how much will I earn?
Let’s talk numbers first. To get your Santa business up and running, there are a few upfront costs to keep in mind. One of the biggest is, of course, your costume.
Costumes for Santa, an online retailer selling high-quality Santa clothes, prices most of their suits between $180 and $560—a far cry from what you’ll see available in most run-of-the-mill costume shops.However, in order to build a reputation as a serious professional Santa, getting a nice suit is crucial to leave a good impression.
Other accessories such as boots, glasses, and gloves can add up to $400. If you don’t have the build most often associated with Santa, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a fake belly, which can easily cost hundreds of dollars.
You may even need a fake beard to pull off the classic Santa look. If you don’t, you may still find yourself spending hundreds of dollars each holiday season on beard maintenance (including bleaching).
After making the initial investment and booking gigs for the season, Santas make anywhere between $5,000 to $150,000 from late November to December 25th. Those with more experience could end up earning towards the top of that range, but most of this depends on where you get hired and if you choose to freelance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Santas who work with malls and photographers can make up to $20,000 per holiday season.
Q: What do I need to have a successful Santa business?
Before you can start spreading Christmas cheer you need to build your online presence, starting with a professional website. This should be a hub for your contact information and rates as well as your booking system. It’s also a nice place to show off pictures and videos of yourself at previous events and will make you appear more professional to potential clients.
Beyond your website, social media is a great way to reach a wider audience these days and promote your business. LinkedIn can be a helpful platform for potential clients to find you and learn about your work experience, but being active on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok will allow people to easily share your photos and videos, which could lead to more business.
One particular Santa, Santa J Claus, posts funny videos in character and has over 200,000 followers on Instagram and 4.5 million on TikTok. Bringing your Christmas spirit to social media could amplify your business to more clients than you ever thought possible.
You may also work at events that require you to show proof of insurance before hiring you.
Of course, starting your own Santa business comes with unique risks that aren’t so jolly. A child could hurt themselves falling out of your lap, or you could accidentally damage the event venue with the chair you brought to sit in. These accidents could lead to costly claims and lawsuits and potentially damage your reputation.
Additionally, many events and venues will require you to show proof of insurance before hiring you, and may even request that you add them as an additional insured.
That’s why having Santa Claus liability insurance is an important part of running a successful Santa business. You can help shield yourself from the financial stress of an unexpected claim while also opening yourself up to more business opportunities when you have proof of coverage.
Q: How do I find Santa jobs?
While there may be a handful of Christmas in July events you could work, the majority of your work will be found in November and December. While most Santas find seasonal jobs at malls and department stores, you could also be hired to work Christmas tree lightings, company parties, church pageants, and charity events.
Most of the traditional mall work will be done through an event or photography company that partners with the mall or department store. For example, Instant Photo Corporation of America (IPCA) works with malls across the US to hire Santas and Mrs. Clauses and you can apply to work with them directly instead of waiting for job postings around the holiday season.
Another option is to work with a talent agency that will place you in different events and venues throughout the season. Real Santas and Hire Santa are both agencies you must apply to join if you’re interested in working with an agency, but bear in mind that talent agency Santas are typically expected to do a little more than just photo ops. If you sing or dance and are willing to do either (or both) in character, this might be the route for you.
If you decide to freelance, building relationships with other Santas could lead to connections and more job opportunities. You can join Facebook groups of other professional Santas or join official Santa organizations such as the Worldwide Santa Claus Network, which boasts a membership of over 5,500 people across the globe.
Here Comes Santa Claus
There are a few extra things you can do to take your Santa business to the next level, but we hope these answers will help you get started in the world of professional Santa impersonating. Once you’ve taken these steps, you’ll be well on your way to making this holiday season merry and bright for children and adults alike. Good luck!