You might be hard-pressed to come by Santa this year — just another long-term effect of the pandemic wreaking havoc on employee shortages. The average working Santa is of a certain age and plumper proportions, making them the most at risk for coronavirus, meaning many Santas aren’t suiting up this year because they are still not comfortable working, and enrollment in Santa schools is down.
Yes, this is a real thing.
Santa school enrollment was down during the pandemic, so there are fewer trained Santas available to be booked. Santa school has classes showing prospective St. Nicks how to walk, talk, and even take pictures like Santa.
With people trying to make up for lost time during lockdowns, there is more demand than ever before the pandemic for a live Santa at your next holiday event. We spoke with Janine Enold, a photographer with Santa’s House Call, who said, “We’ll do, like, family portraits and children’s portraits with Santa in home. We do business sessions in December as well. We have a couple of Realtors we work with regularly who want to do, like, end-of-the-year stuff for their clients, so we’ll do a block of Santa sessions for them.”
She says Santa is in high demand this year, noting, “Definitely the best Santas in the area seemed to get booked early and get booked often. And they obviously get pulled for the most prestigious events. We have the Christmas parade coming up in a few weeks, so they’ll have the most experienced Santas, the most well-known Santas there.”
Enold says she is already 50% booked for the month of December.
“I didn’t have as much of a difficulty in finding a Santa. But I do have good connections here in the central Virginia area. So we’ve had a couple of clients where we are already booked, and they are looking for alternative Santa options for their event because we are not able to accommodate them. So I have been building a Santa Rolodex of people I can refer,” she said.
Enold took over for a photographer who retired, so she was able to already have a Santa. She says the best part about this job is watching the magic of the children meeting Santa Claus.
“Some kids literally only come to this Santa, and so we have some returning clients that have been coming for 11 years,” said Enold. “Their child only sees this Santa, and they believe this Santa is the real Santa, and it’s actually really heartwarming and wonderful to watch.”
And it’s not just any jolly old man with a white beard. You need your Santa to don the iconic red suit — which, yes, as you may have guessed, is also in short supply.
If you are looking to have a very merry Christmas, it’s better to buy and book early for your festivities, as we are seeing a short supply on Christmas this year.