Holly jolly holiday etiquette with Santa Jay

Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus!

Santas all over the country do gig work during the holidays for pay. Some are professional and some…not so much.

A quick Google search on how to find Santa in KC brings thousands of results. So when choosing a Santa to hire for an event or simply to take your child to see, how do you make sure you get a great Santa and not one of those dreaded Bad Santas we hear about in films?

By day, Santa Jay works for William Jewell College. By night he runs KC Santa and is also a professional Santa who recently made an appearance at a Love Fund for Children holiday event. While there, he took photos with infants, children, parents, volunteers, and even KC Wolf. Afterward, spoke with us about what it takes to be a great Santa, especially during these uncertain times.

“Being a Santa is a calling. For me, it started at 16. I had amazing experiences as a small child and I wanted to try to re-create those personal experiences,” says Santa Jay. He went on to describe his work as both an art and a responsibility.

“I am in family photos and video forever. I become a part of the family.”

Santa Jay acknowledges that folks looking to hire a last-minute Santa this year have plenty of information that should empower them before making a decision. The top of the line Claus For Hires out there have their own insurance and provide a yearly background check. Aside from Santa Jay’s company KC Santa, you can also check out Gigsalad.com (a website to hire all kinds of entertainers) or HireSanta.com (which is a nationwide Santa Claus agency.)

Santa Jay cautions that some of these larger sites use stock images of generic Santas instead of the actual performers. So double-check before you invite some rando down your chimney.

During last year’s holiday season, there was a large trend towards virtual Santa visits. This also brought about a rise in socially distant visits with Santa behind a plexiglass barrier and wearing a face shield. At these events, families were required to be masked at all times.

Santa Jay looks back on this pivot in the Kringle industry and denotes both the pros and cons. There were zero “diaper incidents” on his lap, which is certainly in the pro column. Conversely, having conversations with children between a glass barrier and masks made the usual “whispering a gift request into Santa’s ear” more of a “trying to shout so everyone can hear.”

Ahead of last round trips to parties and malls where one might encounter the holly jolly old man, Santa Jay suggests that you prep your children for understanding who it is you consider Santa to be in your life. Is he a lifelong family friend here to spread love and cheer? Is he someone more magical but still not a stranger? This context all reduces the chance of a kid reacting poorly to the situation. Nothing goes over worse than saying “Here’s Santa!” and simply placing your child in the care of a large, bearded man they have never seen before.

That’s how the “diaper incidents” happen.

Santas around the world are asking this year that, as things ease back towards normalcy, that you consider defaulting to the level of safety that would protect Santa, your family, and all the other kids to pass through on a given day.

“I encourage parents to do what they are most comfortable with,” Jay says. “I am fully vaccinated and boosted. But if you know your child is sick, don’t bring him to Santa. I would feel horrible if I passed it on to someone else.”

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