Let’s talk ways to “meet” Santa this Christmas this year, during Covid. Because my young son will want a Santa Claus visit this year, and I know he’s not the only kid, by a long shot! So I’ve been brainstorming alternatives to sitting on a stranger’s lap in a department store, in the middle of a pandemic.
Because even though Santa is immune to COVID, we’re definitely not not.
Luckily, I’ve found some awesome Santa experiences that can help avoid the malls, the masks, and the ensuing drama (just my kids?) entirely.
Here’s to parents who can help kids help find the magic in new ways this year — and to kids who will enjoy every minute.
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Above: Santa’s Club
Related: More than 50 amazing holiday gifts for kids, all under $15. Really!
1. Meet Santa online
If it’s important for your kid to convey their Christmas wishlist directly to Santa, fret not: Online Santa visits are a fun and completely safe way to spend time with Santa, and bonus, you can customize your visit far more than your could in person.
– I’m impressed with the virtual “meet Santa” options available at JingleRing, which lets you choose a Santa who matches your ethnicity, language, and even faith. I also love that they also have a Santa who’s focus is specifically on kids with special needs.
– Santa the Experience is similar, but seems to offer higher production values, with elves who guide you through the visit until the big guy’s ready. You can also share info about your child with Santa before the call; I think kids will be so charmed by having a Santa who already knows a little about them.
– Santa’s Club is another option, and it’s filling up fast, but has two live “meet Santa” options — the upgrade isn’t cheap, but includes a mailed invitation to the chat from the North Pole, a keepsake video, and more. I also love that they offer an African-American Santa here.
2. Receive a personalized video
If your kid tends to clam up on video calls, but you want to find a way for your kids to meet Santa, you can opt for a pre-recorded video from Santa customized just for your kid at Santa’s Club. They’ll personalize it for a single child (they can accommodate up to three on the live calls), and you can have it making magic for your kid within 72 hours.
And don’t forget to check out the longtime favorite of ours: PNP, or Portable North Pole (above), which has so many options now, and the production values remain outstanding. In addition to their short personalized videos they’ve offered for the past 9 Christmas seasons — still with the option to mention whether your kid is on the nice or naughty list at the end — they now offer 15 new themes, with premium videos up to minutes long. And we’re glad that Mrs. Claus is a part of the fun now! You can watch through their app or on your desktop (or psst, stream to your smart TV).
There are also interactive videos, which are like choose-your-own-adventure style (or uh, Black Mirror Bandersnatch style) to let your your kids make choices through the video to bring the magic to life even more. Even cooler, you can arrange for a surprise call from Santa while your kid is watching their video (well, more like a message, but the phone does ring) and you can even schedule it for Christmas Eve.
3. Get a personalized letter from Santa
As you know, we love supporting small businesses, and this year’s holiday gift guide is entirely dedicated to small business. So I was excited to come across Bayside Christmas’s Etsy shop, which offers beautifully designed, customized letters from Santa.
You get to enter your child’s name, age, friends, and achievements for the year to help them make it really personal. Plus, the letter itself comes with reindeer food and an official “nice list” certificate. Keepsake.
4. Enjoy storytime with Santa
Airbnb has expanded their services in some creative ways since the pandemic started, and one way is by hosting cool virtual experiences like this storytime with Santa, featuring children’s book author Jesse. Here, Jesse chats with guests, reads holiday classics, and then shares about his own writing journey.
If you’re looking for a more traditional storytime, that’s available too: check out this virtual visit and story time with Santa Mike instead. You’ll get a full half-hour in a decorated Santa’s Workshop with music playing in the background, chat with him live, and listen to a Christmas story. Aw.
5. Set up a Santa sing-along or dance party
I’ve become a huge Outschool evangelist ever since the pandemic started. My son’s taken so many classes online, and loved them, so I immediately turned to Outschool when looking for Santa experiences, and I was not disappointed! Instead of just meeting Santa, you can register your child and their siblings, cousins, or friends for a sing-along with Santa or even a Santa dance party. Yes, really!
I particularly that this option allows you to involve other kids (remotely of course), since so many of kids are hunkering down at home without classmates and friends this season. Hey, we’ll take a safe holiday party this year, with the hopes that next year’s will be packed with friends IRL.