When you step outside, you can feel the nip of winter in the air. If you listen very, very closely, you can almost hear the jingle of Santa's sleigh bells in the distance. You know what this means - it's time to cart your children off to Santa's workshop and try to get at least a tiny little smile out of them for that treasured photo with the big guy. There are a few tricks to making this easier for both you and your kids!
- Have the proper equipment. If you'll be doing the picture-taking, make sure that you have a reliable camera with which you are familiar. Digital cameras are preferable to 35mm cameras because you can take an unlimited number of shots without reloading film or worrying about mistakes. If you do use a 35mm, take extra film - you don't want to miss a priceless shot because you wasted all of your film on the mediocre ones!
- Prepare your child. If your children are young, they may be scared of Santa Claus. Most kids outgrow this by age five or so, although some children may be apprehensive much longer. The best way to ensure that they look happy and excited to see Santa is to prepare them in advance. After all, if someone dumped you on the lap of someone about four times your size with long white hair, a beard and a funny hat, smiling for a nice picture would be the last thing on your mind! One way to prepare your child is to talk about who Santa Claus is. Most children respond well to anyone who may potentially bring them lots of toys in the middle of the night! You can also read stories and watch movies about Santa. The goal is to make your child view Santa as a familiar, friendly figure.
- Let your child decide when he's ready to sit with Santa. When you arrive at Santa's workshop, don't rush to the front of the line. Let your child watch for a little while. Chances are, if he's a bit nervous, watching other children sit with Santa will calm his fears.
- Start a conversation with Santa in which your child can participate. This helps to quell your child's fears by making Santa seem like an old, familiar friend. For example, you could say, "Sammy is going to leave milk and cookies for you right by the front door. What kind of cookies do you want to leave for Santa, Sammy?" With any luck, your child will begin chatting with Santa right away and you can back away to unobtrusively snap a few shots.
- Don't get stressed out about getting the perfect picture with Santa. If you are nervous and tense, your child will be, too. Follow these tips, hope for a good outcome, but realize that it may work, and it may not. If your child refuses to sit with Santa, try holding your child while you stand next to Santa and have someone else take a picture or two. And if you are unable to get a good picture at all, it's not the end of the world. Christmas isn't about having an adorable picture of your child to pass around at family dinners. It's about being able to go to those family dinners and enjoy the gifts - material or otherwise - that you've been given.