Santa’s I knew looked & likely smelled like this…

Growing up, my close encounters with anyone that donned a fur lined suit were limited. I grew up in Trinidad after all. In 2017, geographical location is no longer a limitation. Santa sightings, beard, fur trim and all, are frequent here. And so, the Santa photo is now yet another “must have” for Triniparents. My son, at nary 21 months old, has met St. Nick stand-ins twice already. Surprisingly, neither one smelled smelled like liquor and sweat either! Small man’s Christmas is already more global than mine.

After last year’s epic Christmas photo fail, I set out to at LEAST get a Santa photo. Here are my Santa photo tips (aka warnings) for others like me totally unaware of the process or what to expect.

  1. Be prepared: Ah yes, how the marketers catch us with all the extra cute “My 1st Christmas” branded $30USD stuff. STEUPS. Listen, pack three outfits when heading
    Cute outfits often don’t work out…

    out for the Santa encounter. Why? #poohappens and clothes get stained fast – especially in advance of the extra special photo moment. Further, moms….the tank tops and plunging neck lines? Leave those home ok? Trust me on it. Your child will thank me two decades from now when their friends aren’t drooling over your ample chest in the Santa photo. Also, kids can be grabby and tank tops leave way too much room for REALLY embarrassing moments. And Dads? Please cut your hair and de-shine the face. These pics are forever.

  2. You will need multiple Santa Gifts: As said before, Santa sightings are plentiful now and each time your wee one sees Santa he’s going to dole out a gift. What no one tells you is that YOU, goodly parent, have to buy all these Santa gifts. Budget accordingly. Further, be better than I was this year, get small to medium sized gifts. Santa gave my son a ride on CAT Dump Truck in the hugest box at one Santa party…the parents gave me more cut eyes than I can count. Santa gave my son’s friend a new lunch kit. It did not go well….Oh and these gifts will need to be wrapped and dropped off before the event…again, walking through an event with 9 year old Santa doubters with your child’s Santa present sets you up for cut eyes too. #knowbetterdobetter
  3. Rain does not stop Santa: We were super late for my son’t first Santa party this year. I hoped the torrential rain that started just as the party was set to begin would give us, the family who waited for their toddler to wake up from nap to ensure there was no at event grumpiness, some wiggle room on arrival time. HA. We arrived to see Santa’s mega cool big truck pulling off and barely caught him for gift presentation. The lesson? Santa is on time – most times. Children are impatient  so rain or shine, Santa is going to be there – don’t be the late family.
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    But that’s my name!

    First and Last Name Required: When you drop off your Santa gift in advance of the Santa party, be sure to label the gift with your child’s first and last name. Bless you parent, your child is not the only child named Morgan, Haven or Sky. Avoid the awkward moment when another child runs to Santa only to be called back because YOU, goodly parent, did not label with first AND last name.

  5. Lines at the mall: Ok, remember the scene in A Christmas Story where they wait to see Santa? Breads…mall lines to see Santa in Trinidad are cray-cray. This is not a wise plan for parents of active toddlers. I stare at these parents in line at West Mall amazement. They are sadists for sure…In a long line for an hour or more with way to fancily dressed children who are woefully un-entertained by the elves, performances or tech devices pushed at them in attempts to distract them from the wait. For a full list of Santa appearances at malls, see Mytrinichile.
  6. Embarrassment at the Office Children’s Party: Dickens seems to have described scenes at office Santa parties best as indeed, these situations are the best and worst of times. Best of times:
    • Unless you work at a mega company that’s fortunate enough to still have these parties given the economic climate, chances are these events are circa 100 kids plus parents and fairly well organized.
    • Really lucky parents have gifts Santa given to their children paid for by the company. The rest of us plebs buy our gifts and drop them to HR before the event.
    • This is still a bonus as, if your company organized the Santa shin dig, it likely came with a bouncy or two to keep wee ones busy, and gift distribution is by name with order – likely accompanied by a “professional” photo of the gift presentation.
    • Worst of times: Your boss and colleagues will see your toddler scream/kick as handed to Santa and the horrible moment will live in company archives forever…..Your colleagues will try to talk work with you as you attempt to keep your child from being the kid that bites/ kicks/ scratches some execs child for popcorn…. Poo stains happen and at the office Santa party there’s some judgy person watching….Top top it all off, there’s also usually no alcohol either …wait…did I say that out loud? #jesusbeasorrelandvodka
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    Children will call out Santa..

    Kids Say the Darndest Things: Santa Edition: Got a chatty wee one? Good luck there. Chances are, your child IS going to say something weird to Santa. Place your chatter box on Santa’s lap and press record on your phone for guaranteed memories. My faves here are the questions older children ask. “How do you pee Santa?”, “Santa, you’re black?” “Santa your breath smells” and of course, “You don’t look like Santa”. Especially as Santa comes in all shapes, shades and sizes in the Caribbean, your child IS going to call out Santa. Trust me on this, you will enjoy the chat recording for years to come.

  8. Pum Pum Shorts at the Neighborhood Santa Jump Up: The happiest Santa experiences for children are intimate ones surrounded by friends. This is must easily found at the neighborhood Santa Jump Up. These can be awesome. Some of the best in the West are West Hills, Stratford Court, Acton Court, Haleland Park, Blue Range and I’m betting that by next year, Victoria Keys ( I need to write a blog about their fabulous play park). These are fairly well oiled children focused events where moms, dads and friends can bring coolers (the hashtag I described above can happily be sampled at these events sans judgement). Registration is required, usually a small donation and indeed, Saint Nick will appear usually on time and clean. As guaranteed as Santa sightings are at these events, sightings of people who break protocol are easily spotted also. Don’t be me. Don’t wear fab hair or makeup – Santa ain’t there for your photo moment. #bereal Don a ponytail, some shorts (preferably not pum pum ones – kinda did that once and am still shaking my head in shame), sneakers and a comfy top that can’t be pulled down. Why? As wonderful as these events are, they are inevitably warm (read as HOT) and turn into long lime affairs. Next time I hit one up, I’m taking the advice I got and packing a play pen, jammies and a bottle!
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    At Irie Elephant Santa Party there are tons of toys

    There will be other toys: Santa may be the main attraction at these events, but good Santa parties have more than bouncy castles, there are often also other toys to play with. Get over your germ issues, let your child play and be merry. Tis the season!

  10. Sweets: Um… Santa is a candy dealer. All these events have sugar filled treats. Cake and ice cream? Passe. Try candy canes, chocolate and literal old school toffee treats. I politely accept these and give them away. Maybe you will handle a toddler on sugar highs better than I do. At this point? #Iehluckywithdat
  11. Private Santa Parties: So you have some extra cash to burn? Fabulous. Throw your own Santa party. Santa will run you about a $1500 – book him now for next year, bouncy castle $300 and up (or buy one) and tell your peeps to come on over. One kicker – decorations need to be on point. I did not go this way because I did not pre-plan but…#lookformeh next year.
  12. Irie Elephant Santa Experience: In 2017, my son’s Santa photo was taken at Irie Elephant and it was an AWESOME experience. Less than 25 children, private, air conditioned Santa photo area with backdrop and lots for children to  play with  – all for $80TT. Best money I spent this holiday. Our Santa photo with the wee one is excellent and very real. Their Santa was personable, clean and the aunty helper was very polite. Great experience. They have another session on Dec 23 2017 so call to book now. Tell ’em I sent you.

Any more Santa tips for Triniparents? Post away.