Guide to Playing Santa at Christmas

By: C A Mc Craw

A great Santa Claus impersonation is a useful skill to have: you can thrill your young children on Christmas Eve, make extra gift-buying money by working as a mall Santa, volunteer your services as a Salvation Army bell ringer, or be the life of your next office holiday party. Playing one of the most famous white-bearded men in history can be a daunting prospect, but with the right tools and preparation, you can act out the part of a convincing Santa Claus this holiday season.

Here's what you need to play Santa Claus realistically:

A Great Costume No one is going to believe you're the real deal if you don't dress the part. Many of us can still picture that one intoxicated uncle staggering around in the snow sporting a red turtleneck, a straggly, elasticized beard, and a can of beer, hollering "Ho, ho, ho!" at the top of his lungs. Not a convincing Santa.

Instead, stock up with the following:

- A professional Santa suit, preferably one with shiny buttons, furry white trim, and a matching hat.

- Standard Santa accessories, such as the requisite wide black belt and buckled boots. White gloves and small, square glasses are also a good touch.

- Jingle bells and a toy sack filled with gifts are also appreciated by little ones.

Now that you're dressed the part, what else do you need?

The Proper Chuckle Yelling "Ho, ho, ho," isn't actually a prerequisites for those who want to play Santa Claus. Actually, it's much more convincing if you master the art of the belly laugh. A good, infectious chuckle goes a lot further than a forced, barking hoot.

Also, remember that Santa Claus is a good-natured guy and probably doesn't run around with a scowl on his face too often. So while you're in that Santa costume, keep smiling, Kris Kringle. This takes us to our last, but most important topic:

The Santa Attitude In order to keep your audience from eyeing you in suspicion, it is important to get into the proper character. Instead of feeling irritation at the enormity of the role you're getting ready to play, take a few minutes to capture the Christmas spirit. Think about why you're playing Santa in the first place: the high-octane excitement of the kids you'll be performing for, or the extra money you'll be providing for needy charities. Once you remember the point of your performance, it becomes a lot easier to get into character.

Next, you need to develop an air of mysteryespecially if you're making an appearance at a family get-together. You're playing the part of a man that inexplicably gets into homes once a year, without setting of the burglar alarm, alerting the family dog, or even being slowed down by the fact that the chimney of the house leads to a forced-air furnace and not a fireplace. The trick to mastering this important characteristic is stealth. Scope out a likely place for a costume switch, and have a cover story prepared for your absence in the meantime. If it's safe, and you won't slip off a snowy roof, consider sneaking out a window and reappearing in another room. Again, cover your bases by making sure there are no locked windows or other hindrances to your plan.

You can also simply slip into a room when no one is looking, and just observe for a moment. Let everyone notice you and wonder when you showed up, and then leave in the same subtle manner.

Playing Santa Claus can be one of the most rewarding hobbies you ever pick up. Plus, if you do it right, portraying the legendary Kris Kringle in a heartfelt and credible way, you'll find your skills in very high demand over the holiday season.

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