Merry Christmas! Well, it may be a little early for that-however we need all the happiness and joy we can get at this time. We all know the Covid19 crisis has changed so much in our lives—where and how we go to work, who we allow in our homes, where our children are educated, how we can travel and on and on.
Even our holidays have been impacted by this situation. We are looking forward to how the upcoming Holiday Season in November and December will be impacted. As we look at things, we want to keep everyone safe, the children, the family, any professionals involved such as photographers and venues and Santa!
At this time we really can not tell what the situation will actually be. We can only work on the information we currently have available. As information changes, our suggestions and policies will change to meet the new information. It is important that all the adults in charge of a child’s Santa experience simply treat the requirements of masks and distance as the normal way we greet and work with everyone including Santa.
At this time, these are the ways our Santa visits will be handled.
Santa loves coming to see the children in their home-whether that is Grandma and Grandpa’s home, or their home. This will present challenges in many areas. Each home visit will need to be planned in a way that allows for a personal time with Santa while protecting everyone with appropriate physical distance. There are various ways Santa can work with you to make your visit this year fun, unique and safe:
1. Let Santa “get caught” bringing some early gifts—this set up requires Santa have access to the area where the tree is while the children are in another part of the house. They hear Santa around the tree and come watch from around the corner. When Santa realizes he has been caught he can interact with the children while encouraging them to maintain their distance.
2. Santa can receive the children’s wish list in a written form and delivered in a special envelope—this allows for the children to give their list while protecting everyone from close contact. For photos, Santa can stand and allow the children to stand around him-this prevents direct face to face contact during that time period.
3. Story time can still happen with children seated on the floor appropriately distanced from Santa.
4. Masking. Santa can talk with the children about the importance of wearing their masks, and demonstrate appropriate mask wearing. This would allow everyone to remain masked and possibly allow more up close and personal interactions to occur safely.
We all want Santa to remain strong and healthy for the entire holiday season and he can talk about the importance of taking care of one another so we can all have a happy and safe holiday.
If you are uncomfortable having Santa and /or Mrs. Claus in your home, we are not at all offended. Many families are limiting interactions with people outside their home. We can arrange a Zoom Call from the North Pole. This may also be the perfect option for families that are spread out across the country. We can zoom in as many families as you wish in a single call.
1. The kids can send Santa their lists in advance of the call and we can go over those requests.
2. For families that usually have Santa bring an early gift, we can have “Buddy the Elf” drop by and leave a bag of gifts on the front porch or steps. Santa can watch as the kids open their presents.
3. Santa can still read a story to the kids, answer questions and of course finish with The Night Before Christmas. He can even screen share the story with the kids as he reads.
4. Santa can talk to kids about the importance of staying safe in this pandemic.
5. Calls will be limited to 30 minutes and scheduled on a weeknight.
If a Video Call is not for you, Santa can produce a custom-made video for your children. This can include Mrs. Claus if you wish.
1. You provide key information and Santa will go over the specifics with the kids.
2. Videos will be from 5 to 10 minutes in length so they will fit easily on your phone or their tablet. I’m sure you will get sick of hearing Santa’s video being played over and over again.
It is possible to include Santa in your public event. There are many options for how to set up time with Santa—
1. A bench or separate chairs so the children can sit next to him instead of directly on his lap, hand sanitizer as they enter the set, masking of everyone in line with removal of the mask for the photo and then return to masking the rest of the visit.
2. Many communities, apartment complexes, homeowners’ associations etc. love to invite Santa to come see the kids and families. This year, we have some recommendations for how to make this fun and safe.
3. If the community is centrally located, plan a time that Santa will visit—not much different than past years. However, this year, instead of the kids coming to the club house to see Santa, plan for Santa to tour the neighborhood.
i. This would entail (weather permitting) Santa having the top down on his red PT Sleigh and driving through the neighborhood. The children can come out and stand on the passenger side of the car for photos with Santa.
ii. Gift lists can be left with Santa in the front seat of his car.
iii. This will allow everyone to get some time with Santa while remaining physically distanced. As long as the required distance is maintained, masking would not be required.
4. For communities whose patrons do not all live in the same area we could consider a drive in Santa (Santa is static and families drive by to visit Santa from their cars) or physically distanced setup outside (weather permitting).
We are working with our photographers to provide a safe environment so we can keep families and Santa safe. Here are the recommendations we have provided our photographers. We are only working with photographers that will work diligently to keep Santa , Mrs. Claus. themselves and Families safe.
1. Sets will be designed to allow a safe physical distance while allowing personal interaction with Santa. This can be done in many wonderful unique ways. Santa will work with each photographer taking into account their space and their client base.
2. Santa knows that children get excited when they see Santa and want to hug him. Santa will remain seated or stand and allow the child to approach for a quick hug. This allows Santa to stay out of the child’s face (breathing over their head) and prevents the child from breathing directly into Santa’s face.
3. Only the people being photographed will be on the set (with parents allowed on the set with their children). Santa knows that photos with Santa are often a family affair including grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. If they are not in the photo, they will need to be out of the set. Individual photographers may have space and set up to allow observation through a window or other protective viewing area.
4. Upon entry to the studio area, each person will be masked and use hand sanitizer. Masks will remain (even Santa will be masked) on everyone’s face properly covering mouth and nose until it is time for the actual photos. Santa realizes that some children, especially very young ones or those with developmental issues may not be able to do this-he trusts that parents will do all they can to encourage it and to help with other ways to protect everyone if this is not possible.
5. Santa is encouraging outdoor sessions as much as possible. It is important to consider bathroom facilities for Santa and the children as well as parking and weather back up plans as sessions are being worked on.