Santa Larry speaks with a virtual visitor at the Santa Experience in the Mall of America on November 24, 2020.
Santa Larry speaks with a virtual visitor at the Santa Experience in the Mall of America on November 24, 2020.Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
  • Stafford Braxton is a Black Santa Claus, the founder of Santas Just Like Me, and a photographer.
  • We asked Braxton how to make the most out of Santa visits from childhood into the adult years.
  • His tips include a change of clothes for young children and remembering everyone is a kid at heart.

Eighty five percent of children believe in Santa, and every Christmas season, they have the opportunity to meet him face to face at their local mall, church, or holiday event. 

We talked to professional Santa, Santa photographer, and founder of Santas Just Like Me, Stafford Braxton, about his top tips for getting the perfect Santa photo (and avoiding Santa's naughty list) this year. 

Bring a child at a time that's good for them — not when it's convenient for you

"You want to bring your children at an appropriate time. If the child has a mood, sometimes we can break them out of the mood, but often they're going to be stuck in that bad mood.

"Do not bring your child right after a nap. Younger children especially need to wake up and warm up to get back to themselves before you're going to set them on a stranger's lap and expect them to smile."

Make sure you're dressed and ready in case you need to be in the photo

"Parents of younger children need to be prepared to get in the photograph with their children, because sometimes there's a feeling of stranger danger or a phobia of white beards. That beard can throw a child off unless they're accustomed to seeing someone in the family who has a white beard, and we've had to pull in a number of parents over the years who were not prepared for the photo.

"Christmastime should be a family event, so when you come to get a picture with Santa with your child, be ready to come and participate as a family. A lot of families even come and use the photo for their Christmas card!" 

Bring backup clothing for younger children

"If that formula or meal comes back up, we don't want your photograph opportunity to be ruined because your child regurgitated on the only outfit that you brought.

"Things happen, so please be prepared with other clothing."

Avoid having older children hold their younger siblings

"If you do decide to let your older child hold their younger sibling, make sure the older sibling remembers that they're holding the child. That's very important. We once had an older sibling let the younger child go, and it wasn't a pretty sight. The baby was fine, there were no major issues or problems, but let's just say the visit was a little sullied because of that.

"We now try not to put a younger child in an older child's hands just because of that experience."

Assign a fashion coordinator for family photos with Santa

"If you're bringing your whole family to be photographed, please coordinate the colors and the patterns of the outfits. It can be very interesting when you get polka dots and stripes and all the colors of the spectrum in one picture.

"Assign somebody to be the fashion coordinator so that everybody knows what the expectations are."

Remember that Santa Claus has a Mrs. Claus

"Sometimes we need to remind women that Santa Claus has a Mrs. Claus, so when you come to take your photo with Santa, please conduct yourself appropriately. That's all I'll say about that."

Remember: You're never too old to come see Santa Claus

"We believe that you can be 92 and young at heart. The Christmas Song says kids are from one to 92, so you can still come see Santa regardless of your age. 

"The youngest child I've ever seen photographed was four days old, and we've even had grown men take photos with Santa by themselves — so teenagers, and especially teenage men, it's OK. It's cool to be photographed with Santa. 

"Plus, you're doing it for your parents."

Read the original article on Business Insider