By Dawnye Appel
Christmastime means that malls, department stores and shopping centers will set up a scene of the North Pole and allow parents to get a photo of their child with Santa. This inevitably makes us — parents and kids — just a little bit nervous, but don’t fret. We have some tips on how to prepare your child for a visit with Mr. Claus:
Don’t go near naptime
It’s best to go to see Santa when your little one isn’t sleepy. Make sure to go well before naptime or right after. Mixing sleepy kids with long wait times is a terrible idea.
Be an early bird
Oftentimes, the lines aren’t as long early in the day and early in the season. Additionally, having an important tradition checked off your list will help you focus on other seasonal fun things.
Avoid peak hours
To cut down on the frightful wait, do the obvious and avoid going to see Saint Nick at peak hours. If it’s an option, head to the line when it’s least likely to be congested.
Infants are often curious so they tend not to become upset if Mom and Dad are nearby and smiling. Toddlers and older kids may need a pep talk beforehand. Reassure them that it’s safe and fun to tell the Big Guy what’s on their wish lists this year.
Take Santa a gift
Another trick for older children is to have them bring something to Santa, such as their wish list, a letter or a small trinket. This will make them feel more like they are going to see an old friend and not some stranger in a red suit.
Find the right Santa
If you are planning to take photos or pay for the ones taken on site, be sure to find a Santa that is suitable for you. In all honesty, some Santas look better than others, and you don’t want an important memory marred by a photo of your little one with someone who looks like Uncle Ralph in a bad suit. Choose a more traditional and classically dressed Mr. Claus if you can.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Most importantly, don’t sweat it if there are some sniffles or tears. It’s still an accurate account of how your child felt about Santa that year. If you do your best to prepare them and they still aren’t quite smitten with the idea, it’s OK. Remember, all kids are different, and there are times when a few tears in a picture still make for an adorable keepsake.