In the back of the cupboard with all the other photos I can’t bear to throw out is a picture of my daughter Erin, nearly 2, sitting on Santa’s knee, howling in red-faced terror after I’d abandoned her to this enormous, bearded, red-suited old codger and a pert little elf who brandished a jingly toy and very bright flash-gun.

In my defence, we’d been in the Santa queue for nearly an hour and I just wanted the Santa photo done with so I could get my toddler home for a long-overdue sleep.

We skipped the nearly-3 Santa photo and by the time she was 4, Erin was easily bribed with lollies.
“Often parents are in such a rush to get the photo they force their child to get close to Santa before he is ready,” an experienced Santa tells me. “But Santa is about the whole magic of Christmas, so there’s no need to rush it.

“Santa’s beard can sometimes make kids a bit wary. Add the big red suit and it’s not surprising if little children can be a bit shy around Santa,” he adds.

But he has some good tips to make the Santa photo less stressful.

“Spend time on walk-by visits viewing Santa from a safe distance. Let your child get intrigued.”

It helps if Mum and Dad greet Santa as they walk past so Santa becomes a familiar figure.

“Let kids take time. Most Santas are there four to eight hours. Have a brief visit, even if it’s Mum just coming up and shaking Santa’s hand. Let your child stand at a distance and come back another time.”

Christmas Ideas 2010

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