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Memories of My Temporary Gig as a Mall Santa Claus

Updated on December 24, 2016

A Great Seasonal Job

The Santa in the mall or the department store Santa has been a retail Christmas tradition for most of the last century and is continuing into the 21st century.

Every year thousands of men are hired to dress up in the red suit, flowing white beard, black boots and spectacles and then sit and listen to children first recite how good they have been during the year and then describe the toys they want for Christmas.

This is, of course, a seasonal, temporary job which usually pays minimum wage and comes without the usual benefits such as paid vacation and sick days, employer paid medical, dental and life insurance, etc.

However, considering that the only other positions open on Santa's staff are in the toy making division, which only employs elves and is located at the North Pole, a local job paying minimum wage and no material benefits isn't that bad.

The job does come with great non-material benefits. Seeing the smiles on the little children's faces as they sit on your lap and tell you what they want for Christmas. The smiles on the parent's as their little darlings pose for pictures with Santa. A giggly teenage girl who impulsively decides to have her picture taken with Santa - after which her girlfriends get the courage to do the same.

There are also the Christmas cookies many of the little children brig to give to Santa. Work this job long enough and a Mall Santa won't need a pillow under his Santa suit!

Me, In My Santa Claus Work Clothes

Working as Santa Claus
Working as Santa Claus | Source

I Actually Got Paid for This Job

A number of years ago I was offered a position as a backup mall Santa. My business partner's son-in-law owned a photography business and had the mall Santa Claus concession at the Foothills Mall in northwest Tucson. He had a few evenings where his regular temporary Santa's were not available and asked Joe and me if we were interested. We said yes and Joe ended up with about five evenings and I ended up with the evening of December 23rd.

Frankly, I was surprised they bothered to pay us as this was not only the easiest job I ever had but benefits were fantastic! Who needs employer paid health insurance and paid vacations when you have little kids bringing you Christmas cookies and cute young women posing for pictures while sitting on your lap?

The beard was a little scratchy, but the suit was made of a light cotton material, the pillows fit snugly, and the boots were a similar light material – I looked like I was prepared to brave the icy North Pole but was actually quite comfortable in balmy Tucson.

I was the star. I had my own dressing room. After dressing, I entered the Santa Castle, sat down upon my throne-like chair and glanced out at my waiting audience. I had a staff of photographers and helpers to do all the work, while I sat in splendor and welcomed the little children as they approached me with awe. The camera kept flashing, as my picture was taken over and over again, making me feel like a star posing with admiring fans. Half way through the evening my assistant (the woman who managed the line and sent each child forward in turn) called a halt so that I could retire to my private dressing room to relax (sitting and smiling is considered hard work, so the mandatory legal break had to be taken) and consume some of the cookies the children had brought me.

All of the children were cute and very polite and many brought me cookies they had baked with their mothers or pictures they had drawn. I would put the very young ones at ease with a couple of words of reassurance. The older ones, having been through the routine in previous years were calm and confident but still polite. Surprisingly, their requests were very reasonable. I responded to each request with a promise to do my best but, being away from the North Pole, I couldn't guarantee that the elves would get everything right – this was the only time in my career that got to openly blame any and all problems on my staff. I, of course, reminded each child as they departed to continue being good as I would be watching.

As the evening wore on the crowds dwindled as the younger children were taken home to bed. There were still a few older ones who were still young enough to see Santa one more time even though most of them probably had the Santa Claus thing figured out. Then, with the line down to one or two people, young women shopping with their friends began coming by. They would giggle and tease each other and then one would bravely step forward to have her picture taken sitting on my knee. Others saw and soon I had a small stream of young women posing for a picture with me – sometimes two or three at once!

The clock ticked on and, like all good things, the evening and my career as a Santa Claus soon came to an end. I was given an envelope containing the $25 pay I had been promised and made one last trip to my dressing room to change and return to the everyday world.

Oh! There was one other employer provided benefit. I had my picture taken and received it for free! Everyone else had to pay $10.

© 2006 Chuck Nugent


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    • profile image

      Dallas Santa 

      7 years ago

      I love being Santa and malls are not the only place Santa Claus appears. Home visits and company Christmas parties make up the majority of mine.

      Visit for more info


    • profile image

      Professional Santa Claus 

      8 years ago

      Being a professional (or volunteer) Santa Claus is so much fun, and brings you and others a ton of joy.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Oliwia - thanks for visiting my Hub and for your comments. Here is a link to your North Pole Sleigh License Hub

    • Oliwia profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      Read my hubpage about official North Pole Sleight License

    • profile image

      John Annett 

      9 years ago

      I am interrested in the position as santa claus fo the christmas season. I live in Buderim on the sunshine coast, and hold a blue card. I have acted as santa claus some years ago at Agnes Water.

      I am 64 years old and have a clean police record and drivers license. I am a driver for Bloomhill cancer help.

    • profile image

      Courtney Duffy 

      9 years ago

      If anyone want's a job as Santa for Christmas 2010, email Courtney at

    • Place Kick profile image

      Place Kick 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Another year and another Christmas. 2009 and there will be many Santas looking for work because under the Obama government unemployment is at an all time high of 10.2%. Parents across America has lost their jobs and some have lost their homes.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great hub- excellent story!

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      10 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      a man's gotta do what he's gotta do. maybe you can be your family's Santa this year? not for the money of course! Nice hub :D

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      10 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      JJC13 - Thanks for visiting and commenting on my Hub.

      As to your question, not this year as the person whose business hired me has sold the business and that ended my connection to the Santa business.

    • JJC13 profile image


      10 years ago from Liverpool

      Christmas is fast approaching. Wil you be doing it again?

    • JoAnn Edwards profile image

      JoAnn Edwards 

      11 years ago from Tennessee

      Cute article. JoAnn

    • exinco profile image


      11 years ago from Malaysia

      well done buddy. jingle bell 2x


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