How to Hire a Santa Claus for Your Small Business
’Tis the season to be jolly, and no one does jolly like Santa Claus. Thinking of upping the “ho-ho-ho” factor at your store this Christmas? Here’s how to hire a St. Nick who’s appropriate for your special event.
Consider Your Needs and Expectations
People have different notions about what Santa Claus should look like and how he should interact with children. Should Santa sport a real beard? Should he be a modern Santa or an old-school St. Nick? Does he need to be over a certain age? Your choices may depend upon the type of customer experience you’re looking for.
It’s also important to decide what you want Santa to do at your event. Is he there to have children sit on his lap and collect Christmas gift wishes? Would you like him to tell or read a story? Pose for photographs? Lead a sing-along of popular carols? Some Santas are better at certain activities than others.
Search Online and at the Mall
Professional Santas are available across the U.S., both independently and through talent agencies. Check out their online profiles — and don’t hesitate to ask questions (see our suggestions below).
Another option: Visit shopping malls and holiday events in your area and watch a few pros in action. This will help you get a better idea of who you’re looking for and possibly find an ideal candidate to hire.
Review Santa’s Résumé and References
Look for Santas who have a fair number of holiday events under their belts. Veterans know better than anyone else how to handle a frightened child and answer questions like “Can you bring me a pony for Christmas?” An experienced Santa is the best qualified to respond to any number of situations.
Holiday-hiring sites like GigMasters.com often have helpful client feedback and reviews about the talent they offer. Check out what previous customers say about these Santas and how well each actor conveys the “St. Nick experience.” As with any job applicant, checking references is critical.
Chatting with your potential Santa Claus, either on the phone or in person, should give you a sense of what he’s like. Helpful questions include:
- What does Santa offer as part of his appearance (singing, storytelling, etc.)?
- How long does each appearance last?
- Can Santa stay longer than the contracted time, if circumstances warrant it?
- What is his base rate? Is there an additional charge for a visit that runs beyond the contracted time?
Do a Background Check
Obviously, anyone you hire should be thoroughly vetted. As part of your screening process, conduct a thorough background check on the Santa you're thinking of hiring. (Routine checks include credit reports, drug tests, driving records, court records, character references, etc.) For more extensive background checks, including the national criminal records database and national sexual offender database, online services such as EmployeeScreenIQ are very helpful. Prospective Santa Claus hires should also carry entertainer liability insurance.
As with any holiday event, it’s best to book your Santa as early as possible. If you haven’t taken action yet, start today. There’s still time to find the perfect Kris Kringle for your Christmas celebration.
Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.