Going to meet Santa at the mall is a ritual that some love and some hate, but most bravely do it anyway at some point. To set your kids on Santa’s lap and get that adorable photo that you can put in your Christmas cards to satisfy the grandparents, you have to stand in line with Christmas music on repeat and dozens of other families in the same situation while the kids are sick and tired of waiting (or literally sick.) But it’s probably nothing compared to what the job is like for the man himself.
Anyone who puts on a red velvet suit and plays the beloved role of Father Christmas must be a kind and patient soul indeed. You would have to be in order to spread Christmas magic to hundreds of kids in a row, including taming the ones who would rather be anywhere else. But here are some situations that probably weren’t in the job description, from people bringing their four-legged children to sit on Santa’s lap, to grown-ups who just love Christmas so much that they keep coming back year after year.
See how professional Santa performers deal with the unexpected in these pictures, and upvote your favorites! While you’re waiting for the big day, you can also look back on our lists of the best and worst Christmas decorations, and people whose Christmas wasn’t very merry.
#1 While Waiting In Line To See Santa, This Baby Fell Asleep. When It Came Time For The Picture, Santa Told The Parents Not To Wake Him
Image credits: biggerstr0nger
#2 I Took My Dog To Take A Christmas Picture With Santa And She Ate Him
Image credits: givemepilates
#3 My 92 Year Old Grandma Said She’s Never Been To See Santa. Change Of Plans This Christmas
Image credits: hackmebaby
Some things never change. That’s what some of these Santa performers must think when they get visitors who keep coming back even as they grow up. One pair of brothers has a whole slideshow of pictures with Santa over 30 years, eventually adding their own children to the picture!
Want to know another thing that never changes? A Canadian mall Santa who has been doing the job every Christmas season for 35 years says that although the types of presents that kids ask him for have changed with the introduction of more electronics, Legos are a classic that have stuck around.
#4 So, My Dog Met Santa Claus
Image credits: livid_vizard
#5 My Santa Doesn’t Age (1997-2017)
Image credits: GL_Prods_DIE
#6 Took The Kids To Meet Santa Yesterday And, As You Can See, It Went Amazing
Image credits: mrsktpierce
Professional Santa performers—and, yes, they say the job requires somebody who can put on a show—who are really serious about their craft go to Santa training schools with whimsical names like “Northern Lights Santa Academy.” There, they learn not only lore about the role and how to accurately talk about reindeer, but the business practicals of self-promotion and getting private bookings.
#7 My Friend Brought Her Dog To See Santa Recently
Image credits: CamerasOnCops
#8 Mommy’s Lil Monster Meets Santa & Krampus
Image credits: st4rxxx
#9 My Mom Said “Damn” In Front Of Santa. This Was The Reaction
Image credits: Broseph_Of_Nazareth
There’s also increasing demand for not just Santa performers, but also Mrs. Claus, say women who have stepped into the role in recent years. Maybe soon you’ll be able to choose which visitor from the North Pole you’ll want to take your kids to visit.
#10 Got A Pic With Santa… He Said I Was Too Big… We Compromised…
Image credits: IbisVox
#11 My Favorite Shot From Our Christmas Shoot This Year
Image credits: twofridas
#12 Holiday Shopping Can Put A Smile On Even The Most Kvlt Person In Your Life! What’s Your Favorite Holiday Tradition?
Image credits: rottedgoth
Performers say that while playing Santa pays well, it takes a large investment at the start for a quality costume. And, of course, a great love for Christmas spirit and children, not to mention a philosophy of kindness and wisdom that follows them all year round.
#13 My Son Started To Cry When He Saw Santa, So I Decided It’d Be A Good Idea If We All Joined To
Image credits: the_trynes
#14 My Dad Was Santa At Our Local Petsmart, Was Not Expecting This
Image credits: MichaelDerp
#15 My Friends And I Got Our Picture Taken With Santa
Image credits: doktorseuss
#16 We Dressed Up Our 18 Month Old Daughter To See Santa. She Was Not Pleased
Image credits: shoota60
#17 Another Year, Another Photo With Santa
Image credits: mattxcf
#18 This Woman Took Her Cats To A Department Store To Visit Santa And As You Can See It Went Quite Well
Image credits: annaswajid
#19 How Many Kids Do You See?
Image credits: emilygreynolds17
#20 My Dad Is The Macy’s Santa In Seattle. Today He Got To Meet A Legend!
Image credits: FlyingCrunkman
#21 Nancy Reagan Sitting On Mr. T’s Lap
Mr. T was a surprise guest at the first day of the press tour of the White House Christmas Decorations.
She was standing next to him and my dad (who was friends with Nancy) said “How about sitting on his lap?”She looked at her press secretary for approval then said “Sure!” and sat down.
Image credits: lex99
#22 My Nephew Meeting Santa For The First Time
Image credits: Ashyvegy
#23 What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Image credits: andsuddenlywhoo
#24 Santa Looking Like Hes Gonna Risk It All
Image credits: CrownedHeads
#25 34 Years Photos With Santa – Annual Tradition
Image credits: imgur.com
#26 Past Five Years Of Mall Santa Photos With My Brothers
Image credits: robdobi
#27 Ho Ho Ho!
Image credits: guilherme.costanetto
#28 My Friend Is Santa At Bass Pro (Among Other Places). He Had An Unexpected Visitor
Image credits: MetalJunkie101
#29 My 3 Month Old Son With A Look Of Shock Only He Could Pull Off At Being Sat On Santa’s Lap
Image credits: creepysantaphotos
#30 My Mum Has Been Making Me Get A Santa Photo Every Year Since I Was Born. This Year I Had A Little Bit Of Fun With It
Image credits: BakingBatman