Staff at one of Dallas’s most immersive Christmas experiences shared tips on how parents can help prevent their children from freaking out while getting photos with Santa.
“The most effective thing I’ve seen is to start talking about what they’re going to get for Christmas,” one Santaland staffer told Fox News. “The thing that causes the meltdown to go poorly is when you say if they act like that, Santa won’t give them what they want for Christmas, because then he’s the bad guy.”
Others said photographers’ props, like stuffed toys, tend to help keep children calm.
Santaland is a pop-up Christmas experience at Galleria Dallas, one of the largest shopping centers in north Texas. The limited event lasts through Jan. 8 and boasts a personalized Santa meet and greet in an intimate setting.
“You want to make sure that your kids have a relationship with Santa prior to actually coming here,” Dejon, who takes Santa photos at the Santaland experience, told Fox News. “Whether it be seeing them on movies or even just visiting a mall where you might see a Santa out in the open.”
Another staffer said parents should ensure their children are well rested and fed prior to the visit.
“Make sure you pack their snacks and also their little favorite toys,” she told Fox News. “That way you can distract them so they can take a pretty photo.”
Holly, a member of Santaland’s public relations team, said to dress your children comfortably.
“Don’t put them in something that they wouldn’t ordinarily wear,” Holly, herself a mother, told Fox News. “Tights are sometimes uncomfortable for little girls.”
Emily said she recommends not forcing the photo shoots.
“Try not to fabricate the moments with Santa,” she told Fox News. “Just let them happen. If your kid is telling them their Christmas list, let them talk a little bit.”
Alexa said parents should try to create a relaxed atmosphere.
“If you have that serious energy, kids can get a little bit scared,” she told Fox News.
Santaland staff members said they often rely on props to distract and pacify upset children during awkward Santa shoots.
“We have a stuffed elf, we have bells,” Alexa told Fox News.
Dejon said he encourages parents to step in if their child is uncomfortable meeting Santa Claus.
“We’ll kind of have the parent go in there, even if they’re not intending to take a photo, and take a couple of photos with them and get really close to Santa just so they can know that Santa is not an enemy, so to speak,” he told Fox News.
But Scot Redman, a co-creator of Santaland and a professional photographer, said parents shouldn’t worry too much if their kids bawl during their Santa photo shoot.
“I think some of the greatest Santa photos of all time are when the kid is crying or doing something silly,” he told Fox News. “And I think those are the things that later you cherish.”
To learn more about curating the best Santa experience for your kids, click here.