Maul Santas (Part 3)

Santa's package

I went down to the local mall a couple of days ago to see how the Santa racket works these days. It’s like a production-line portrait studio now, with big signs showing all of your options. You can get any size print, you can get it printed on keychains or Christmas ornaments, and you can get a CD of low-rez pix to email to grandma. They take multiple shots and show them to you on their computer, so you can pick the one you like.

As a result, Junior sits on Santa’s lap for several minutes. It looked like that whole time was spent posing. I’m not sure when Junior got to tell Santa which cheap Chinese crap he wanted for Christmas. But then, after the posing, there are several minutes of the parents selecting and paying for the photo. This means their throughput can’t be more than one kid every five minutes, and is probably even slower than that.

Santa's racket

How it is done today.

I didn’t ask, but the way the whole thing is set up leads me to believe that you don’t get to see Santa unless you agree to buy some pictures. As you can see by the prices up top, Santa’s package is at least $14, but you could easily spend upwards of $47.

The take-home message for the kiddies is that these days Santa is just prostituting himself for money, like the washed-up Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.

8 Responses to “Maul Santas (Part 3)”

  1. Lindsay Says:

    No question Santa(s) have organized well. Most mall Santas you see are contracted through a company that specializes in hiring and retaining Santas. Some go for more authentic Santas than others, but the contractor does extensive background checks and has certain aesthetic Santa standards the Santas must abide. One of the strangest things I have seen in my life was my old boss sitting in a board room with the contracted Santas of all my company’s Minnesota malls. I asked them if they would like any refreshments but I said I regretted that I had no cookies on hand.

    Oh and you’re correct on the photo racket as well. It’s playing on the parent’s guilt of not having any record of a special holiday. The mall/Santa contractor is very well aware of parental weaknesses.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Oh, for FSM’s sake…

    There really is no hope for this country. None.

  3. sue blue Says:

    If there’s one thing I hate getting at Christmas it’s pictures of kids on Santa’s lap, folded inside a Christmas letter extolling all the fabulous crap the family’s done during the past year. We used to get these every year from a wealthy relative. “Here’s our adorable spawn – he’s so much cuter than your kids. And here’s a list of the expensive things we bought/did this year: A new Mercedes, a vacation in Maui, a new horse, ski trips to Aspen, blah, blah,etc., etc., ad nauseum. After a while I started sending pictures with captions like this: “Here we are gathered around the burn-barrel behind the barn”; “Here’s ________’s first time on the potty chair!” and letters that talked about how many eggs our chickens were laying, how much it cost to re-roof the garage, which one of our cars was breaking down the most often, and what upcoming family blow-outs were brewing. I actually heard back from family and friends that they found these letters refreshingly honest and fun to read. The tradition continues, without one child ever being groped by a mall Santa.

  4. Coty Says:

    @Sue: You had a burn-barrel too?

  5. Troy Says:

    There has always been this photo racket but I’m quite sure that they’ll take non-photo customers.

  6. Thomas Says:

    The truth is that, in a world where everyone has a camera in their cell phone and in which every news story has live video, even if it is cheap, lo-rez video, we simply don’t trust things for which we don’t have pictures.

    Experiences that weren’t recorded somehow don’t count. This is why people pay $100 to go to a concert that they then watch through the two-inch monitor on their camcorder. This is why people have facebook profiles with 15,000 photographs. This is why reality television has any audience at all.

    And, most relevant here, this is why second-rate portrait studios can guilt parents into spending a day’s wages on a cookie cutter photograph that is indistinguishable from that of every other one taken that day.

    Wanting a memento is fine. Thinking that the memento is more important than the actual experience means you’re probably missing out on something.

  7. Parrotlover77 Says:


    Seems to me that somebody needs to start a website where parents can upload head-shots of their ankle-biters and paste it onto canned photos of kids with Santa and download a free shoop of the event. Ad supported. It would kill.

    I’m too lazy to see if one exists. Yes. Too lazy to google. Cue Jeff and ranting about how humanity is doomed or something.

  8. Jeff Says:

    Yes, very droll.