IS SANTA SCHOOL FOR YOU?
(Investigator 153, 2013
A TOUGH JOB
have to know the
latest toys, answer awkward questions, avoid staring at mum's cleavage,
keep their hands where parents can see them, avoid promises parents
can't keep, treat all kids equally, put up with being photographed all
day long, and control their temper when pesky kids poke their face,
salivate on them or think their leg is a toilet.
young women or
kids' mothers decide to sit on Santa's lap and get playful and, with
kids watching and security cameras recording, this can get awkward.
jovial all day
through all provocations is hard.
GET A DIPLOMA
hundreds of training centres, training programs and organizations that
train and/or or hire out Santas.
Provider is Amuse Matte, based in California. An Internet
report quotes its president, Mike Bordeleau: "All the santas are
trained, background checked. Many of them belong to organizations
throughout the country that are a fraternity of Santas."
training centres include the International University of Santa Claus
(IUSC), and the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School. Canada
has Santa School (in Calgary, Alberta); the UK has Thompson
Santa School; Australia has Bluestone Recruitment; and from
2013 even Hong Kong has a Santa School
is the world's
largest annual Santa training school.
travels to ten
different US cities, several European cities, and also conducts courses
on cruise ships. Students get advanced training in Santa Clausology and
graduates receive a Bachelor or Master of Santa Claus (BSC) and became
members of the University's alumni association, "The Red Suit Society."
Over 2500 Santas have graduated in ten years
charge is Tim
Connaghan who first worked as a part-time Santa in California in 1970
and continued for over 30 years. After retirement in 2003 Connaghan
became a full-time Santa and Santa trainer. The two-day, 16-hour,
"University" course costs around $400 but graduates can earn $10,000 in
a Christmas season or $200 for an hour's appearance at a weekend party.
Connaghan explained the "top requirements" to be a Santa:
"You have to
be clean and neat — get a suit that is not too baggy and keep your
whole appearance high quality. You can't have a beard that smells like
16,000 people have worn it. Next, you will have a lot of bosses…the
children, their parents, the photographers, and the person who hired
you... your number one priority is the children. Finally, you're going
to get a lot of difficult questions from children. You can't promise
them anything, but at the same time you never want to tell them no.
Always let them know that Santa loves them and change the subject, ask
what they want for Christmas." (Posted by Tory Putnam)
Charles W. Howard
Santa Claus School in Michigan started training Santas in 1937. It is
one of the world's longest running Santa schools and teaches about 100
students each year. The New York
Times reported: "The Class of 2011
included an accountant, an aerospace engineer and a 28-year-old making
do with odd jobs."
began with three employees who provided staff for the laundry industry.
Continued expansion eventually included a "Santa School", opened in
Sydney in 2001, making Bluestone a "specialist Santa
School trains several dozen Santas per course and in 2012 the total
available for "the world's happiest job" numbered about 600.
contracts with Australia's largest department stores and shopping
centre chains. Bluestone's website lists the rewards Santas get:
mums and dads
refers to salary,
not gifts from mums or dads, which Santas don't, or shouldn't, solicit
from many children
Working close to
who lack fat bellies can nevertheless enrol since they can be fattened
with artificial bellies. Trainees practice being jolly, get fruitcake
for morning tea and can be almost any age — recent trainees ranged from
19 to 88. The school supplies Santa costumes, beards and wigs (if
needed), and white crayons to whiten the eyebrows (if needed).
school to school but includes how to manage frightened children, shy
children and physically disabled children.
reindeers' names and perhaps a little mathematics: "How many ways can
eight reindeer, behind Rudolph the leading reindeer, be arranged?" Not
many kids ask this question but the answer if they do is
8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 = 40,320
included may be role
playing, sign language, grooming, festive greetings in several
languages, voice projection, Santa history, child psychology, child
development, media contact, entertainment styles, wardrobe, business
aspects, etiquette, and sundry facts such as:
The word's largest gathering of Santas occurred in Northern
Ireland in 2010 where 12,965 men and women in red gathered.
USA has 20,000 Santas available to work.
visit 400 million children on Christmas Eve the reindeer have to fly at
4000 times the speed of sound.
department stores and
malls Santa's trips to the bathroom have to remain mysterious —
Bluestone Recruitment suggests "Santa is off feeding the reindeer".
Santa uses the staff facilities — not the public toilets where kids or
parents might follow to continue discussing presents. Taking the
costume off and putting it back on takes 20 minutes and Santa doesn't
want an audience.
stores want to
avoid litigation; therefore training includes traps to avoid. There's
the cleavage trap — stores don't want mothers complaining. There's the
correct positioning of the child — the knee, not the lap. Let the
photographer, the kid's mother or Santa's helper position the child. If
kids say stupid things — don't call them "Dickhead". And if kids are
rowdy or nearby teenagers crack Santa jokes, Santa must never get irate
and shout "Shut up" or "p... off!"
answers to common questions:
do you like?
juice" or "Milk" [Not "I get drunk every Saturday."]
How do you
visit everyone in one night?
reindeer go really fast."
Can I have
a baby brother for Christmas?
what I can do" or "What toys would you like?" [Not "I'll leave one
under the Christmas tree."]
you bring what I asked for last year?
a problem; what would you like this Christmas?"
who can write
come with a ten-page wish-list Santa tries to restrain their hopes. He
also keeps his mobile phone switched off while working and does not
proposition attractive mums even if the child says: "My dad's in jail."
If mum and dad are both present and are arguing Santa stays out of it.
He doesn't do off-the-cuff marriage counselling except, "Ho, Ho, Ho!"
and "Merry Christmas!" He also avoids innuendo — if the child asks "Do
you play with Mrs Santa?" a suitable answer is "Yes we're very happy"
and not "When she doesn't have a headache."
have to be up to
date with toys. Few kids nowadays want marbles or yoyos. They're after
Mutant Ninja Turtle Costumes, Spider Man Mega Blasters, life-like
Barbies, mobile phones, Batmobiles, play stations and remote control
need to monitor
their personal habits since nobody wants a smelly Santa. Avoid alcohol,
cigarettes, onions, garlic, prunes, broccoli, etc, before work. Regular
health checks too are important — parents and kids want good cheer, not
tuberculosis or flu.
and diplomas received, the new Santas may get to celebrate with mince
pies, turkey sandwiches and sherry. After that it's look for work or
wait for it.
training centres there are cheaper and shorter options. Common are
half-day workshops which teach all the essentials. The cheapest and
least committal option is probably tutoring by telephone costing
perhaps $25 for a half hour's tuition. Realize, however, that at an
interview "I studied Santaclausology at University" sounds more
qualified than "I made a phone call."
wise to investigate
various schools, speak to graduates, and find out about continuing
support, placement after graduation, the School's success rate, and
self-training or additional training are also available. The Richardson
Company (Lakeland, Washington) offers "Santa's Leadership Secrets —
Santa's Training Tool Kit". This is: "An exciting leadership
development training program based on the best selling book, The
Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus." The tool kit includes 11 books,
150 PowerPoint Training Visuals, DVD, VHS, and useable items such as a
Santa Coffee Mug, Santa Mouse, Santa Hat, etc.
what you pay for.
Stores, malls and companies that hire Santas turn to professional
schools, and it is former students who get hired. If you're going
freelance you'll need a Police Clearance Certificate or other security
check. If your past is best kept concealed you should train for a
purchase their own costume and accessories. An authentic-looking red
costume can cost $2000 and double this for a backup. Santa boots may
cost $800; a belt $300; white leather gloves $300; and combined beard
& wig sets of yak hair over $1000. You can save on the beard by
growing your own. Kids who feel unstable on knee-tops could hang on to
it without pulling it off.
remain a top,
sought-after Santa requires regular refresher training and involvement
with a Santa Claus community or fraternity.
Harward, CEO and
founder of Training Industry Inc. writes: "…the Amalgamated Order of
Real Bearded Santas…is an international, fraternal organization
dedicated to training Santas and enhancing their portrayal of Santa
Claus for the benefit of family and community." (December 1, 2009)
America recognized by the Santa schools include:
Fraternity of International Real Bearded Santas;
Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas;
International Order of Santas;
Mystic Order of Traditional Santas.
organizations that provide volunteer Santas for hospitals, hospices,
military establishments, and "special" children. Prominent in the USA
is Santa America about which Bob Elkins of its Santa Relations Program
writes on the Internet: "We continue to seek the top 10% of American
Santas to become part of our unique and compassionate team. As
America's largest non-profit Santa service charity, Santa America
continues to expand our…international network of dedicated volunteers…"
qualified Santa you
could even attend the annual, 3-day, World Congress of Santa Claus near
Copenhagen (Denmark) and compete for the Santa World Championship.
enough to be a Santa? Try the Santa intelligence test at
And to see a Santa who breaks every rule watch the movie Bad Santa
If you're willing and able to be a good Santa, perhaps Santa School is