Remember that sixth helping of stuffing you devoured? Oh, and countless heaps of grandma’s cherished mac and cheese? Don’t regret eating them. (We don’t.) Instead, think of those extra pounds as preparation for the grandest holiday side gig of them all.
Every year, thousands of shopping malls, department stores and corporations throw Christmas-themed events and parties that rely on guest appearances from Ol’ Saint Nick himself.
(Spoiler alert: not the real one. He’s too busy. It’s actually a complex network of Santa Claus impersonators.)
If you’ve got what it takes — e.g. a burly chuckle, a mean beard, a background check and liability insurance — you can find a variety of Santa Claus jobs this time of year.
How to Find Santa Claus Jobs (Mrs. Claus, Too!)
Becoming Santa Claus is a little more complicated than walking into your local shopping mall with an application in hand. Many malls and department stores rely on event companies, talent agencies and freelancers to meet their Kris Kringle needs. Here’s how to join those ranks.
Work at an Event or Photography Company
When you think of Santa Claus jobs, do you think of a winding single-file line through the atrium of a shopping mall, everyone waiting for a photo with the big guy? These types of events are often coordinated by events and photography businesses.
Some companies contract with shopping malls or department stores as full-service vendors – handling all the staff, decorations and photographs. Others may only provide photography services or Santa-staffing services.
Cherry Hill Programs and Instant Photo Corporation of America (IPCA) are two national companies that partner with regional shopping malls across the nation to hire Santas, Mrs. Clauses and other festive characters (as well as some photographers).
Not having any luck with national Santa companies? Narrow your job search to local events and photography companies. If all else fails: Call your local mall to see how they usually hire Santa.
Use a Talent or PR Agency
Maybe you have experience as Santa under your well-worn leather belt. In addition to looking the part, you sing or act to enliven your impersonation. Simply put, you’re down to do more than sit on a red velvet throne for a few pictures.
A talent agency is just what you need. Such agencies find the Santa Claus jobs — the corporate events, the media appearances, the charity drives — and reach out to you if you’re a part of their network and meet certain criteria.
Real-bearded Santas are generally higher in demand and can charge better hourly rates. Some agencies may even require the applicant to have a real beard.
Freelance as Santa
Whether you find gigs through an events company or talent agency, you can always boost the profile of your Santa enterprise by finding clients on your own. This will require a bit more legwork on your part, but the reward can be well worth it. Some Santas we spoke to earn up to $7,000 a season by running their own show.
In our ultimate guide to becoming a professional Santa, The Penny Hoarder spoke to several pros who built their own websites or made listings on talent-freelancing websites like Gig Salad. They shared insider tips on finding the best clothes, enrolling in Santa school (it’s a thing — we checked) and getting into character, even when you’re off the clock.
“Before you become a Santa, you really need to understand what it’s going to do to your life,” said Santa Tim, a retired professional Santa from Kansas. “You are going to have to be Santa Claus.”
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.