5 tips for anyone who has to be a school Santa

Schools often insist on having Father Christmas in his Grotto – but if Father Christmas himself can’t make it, what do you do?  Here are some tips on how to be a brilliant school Santa, from a former PTA Santa organiser and a couple of Santas… For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see www.nicolabaird.com

Giant xmas cards cost so much - here's a fiver saved by making it yourself.

Giant xmas cards cost so much – here’s a fiver saved by making it yourself.

1 Check on location
School PTAs (parent teacher associations) love to have a Santa’s grotto. A quick way to make this fab is to ask the teaching assistants – maybe get them to decorate a pop up gazebo in the corner of a classroom. Or even use a big cupboard (though that may involve a painful clearing up job too). Santa’s job will be to cope with the crying children, deal with the unbelievers and do a theatrically fab job of passing over a present (glow sticks are great, but let’s hope that’s not the toy Santa gave out last year, or the year before).

2 Do your research (especially if you don’t have children)
OK, the reindeer are parked on the school roof, but what are their names? (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder & Blitzen.)  Perhaps Rudolf with his nose so red is your favourite, but he’s not as good a sledge puller…

Facts for the super clever: at this time of the year it’s only the female reindeer that have antlers, like Vixen… (perhaps find out if the local shopping centre has arranged a reindeer visit for passing on to a wannabe David Attenborough).

“I was Santa at a friend’s kids’ school. Fantastic experience as it’s the closest you’ll ever get to being a real life super hero. One terrified little kid even gave me (Santa) a Christmas card afterwards. Make sure you are up on the latest children’s toys though. I was baffled when one girl said she wanted rats for Christmas. After asking her to repeat the request several times, it turned out she wanted Bratz. Could have been tricky if it had been within my gift to actually fulfil her request on the spot.” Christian

3 Wear the right gear – be suited and booted
The pound shop and Tesco have the whole Father Christmas kit (probably) but you also need a large pair of big black wellies. Something to borrow maybe? Don’t spoil the look with trainers. DM shoes are a give away.

Can you tell it's a reusable xmas tree?

Can you tell it’s a reusable xmas tree?

4 You have to con your own children
Firstly you have to, otherwise the rumour is going to spread around the school that it’s Amal or Emily’s dad who is doing Father Christmas. Still at least it’s not the school caretaker again.

“Don’t let them pull your beard (ideally a fake long white one) or prod your stomach (stuffed with a cushion). Just stay in your chair if they cry.” Dad who has been Santa twice (honestly, one go is enough – it’s a job the dads can share).

If you decide to go all modern and have a Mrs Santa check with the teaching assistants. If they don’t like the idea stop right there – after all you need the helpful TAs to decorate that grotto…

5 Dealing with unbelievers
There are two places where this needs to be dealt with – in the queue and in the grotto.  Queue managers need distraction: maybe arm yourself with cracker jokes, or try free face painting of a holly leaf or a Rudolf red nose. Believe that Father Christmas is in that grotto, and that will help the kids believe it too.

“There are always stroppy ones who try and catch you out. when you ask what they want for Christmas they say ‘can I have a nintendo DS271?’ You say yes. They laugh and go (evilly) ‘Ha ha I’ve caught you out, there isn’t one. You’re not Santa… ‘  My tip is to just keep saying ‘if you are good I’m sure Father Christmas will bring you the presents you want’ – jovially. And if a child comes in and shouts out (accurately) ‘Molly, Molly it’s your dad,’ you have to deny it.” Dad of a year 2 and year 5

Happy Christmas: may your fundraising be tear-free.

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