From Santa Hollywood

Insight into Christmas, the Holidays and the World of Santa Claus

Being Prepared – Santa’s Magic Suit – Part IV

posted by SantaTim On October - 23 - 2010 Comments Off on Being Prepared – Santa’s Magic Suit – Part IV

Santa’s Magic Suit – Padding, Cooling Vests, Toy Bag, Gloves, Glasses and Accessories.

To Pad or not to Pad

Not every Santa fits the image in Clement Moore’s poem.  In fact, in today’s weight conscious society, many Santas try to keep as trim as possible.  And still many have never been ‘big.’   So the question is, what about wearing padding.

Of course, the little children seem to overlook a thin Santas.  They see the beard and red suit and immediately they know who you are.  It is the older kids and the parents who will generally comment on your loss of weight.

Depending on your size and height, you may want to consider adding some girth with a little padding.   There are some commercial pads out there, and a few costume shops do carry them. 

Try to find padding that, when touched, feels like you are touching a real tummy.  Also, make sure that the padding is not too long.  If it is too long, you will have a difficult time sitting down.

I also recommend blousing or puffing-out your coat to add a few pounds to your look.  This is done by pulling the coat up slightly over the top of your belt.  The added material above the belt will generally puff out a bit and add a few pounds to you look.   You will also find that blousing sometimes makes you more comfortable and gives you increased movement in your coat.


Cooling vests

Depending on what state you live in or where you are working, wearing a Santa Suit can be ‘hot’ work.   Even in an air-conditioned mall, if you have a few hundred children and adults around you, the temperature will rise.

Unfortunately, Santa’s suit and hat generally cover the parts of the body that work as natural radiators, carrying the heat away from the body’s core.  Just about the only open place for the heat to radiate is Santas face and neck.  That is why you often perspire so much.

In recent years, many Santas have invested in cooling vests.  These vest usually have a collection of pockets that are filled with special gel-filled packets or frozen packets that cool the body thus countering the heated core.

By the way, these vests may also double as padding.



Part of the tradition and elegance of Santa is his wearing of gloves.  In the Coca-Cola ads, when Santa is wearing gloves, we usually see the large leather gloves.  These are great for the cold weather and for handling the reins of his nine reindeer. 

However, when greeting and talking to children, the standard glove for Santa is the all white glove.  It is also a key element in your wardrobe and adds a little class to your photos.  Also, in many countries and states, there are requirements of wearing clean gloves when working with the children.

You will also note that all of the major amusement parks and attractions require their entertainers and characters to wear gloves, most of them white.

Every Santa needs to have a few pairs of good white gloves.  They also hide quite a few problems. 

Most men have rough hands, filled with character from years of hard work.  Plus as we get older, we get age spots, and other marks.  And then there are the veterans with the little tattoos, etc.  Gloves can hide these elements and soften your appearance to the children. And if you have really big hands, White gloves will also make them less scary.

Some Santas invest in opera gloves, or gloves with longer sleeves to cover their wrists.  These can also cover unsightly tan lines from your regular watch, or again, tattoos on your forearm.

Gloves can be purchased from a good costume shop, military surplus (parade gloves) and some police uniform shops, (traffic police need white gloves when directing traffic). I have listed a few suppliers in the Appendix.

And finally, gloves must always be clean.  So you need to have a good supply of clean gloves.  You should always have one or two additional pairs with you, in reserve.  If your gloves get soiled by accident or dirty after a few hours of greeting children, change them.   Children, no matter how clean they might be, will generously and magically give you lots of hidden dirt.

And a good rule to follow is always have a clean pair of gloves on when ever you arrive at a party or event.  If you have five events in a day, you need five pairs of clean gloves!!

Good gloves should be cleaned and washed as often as necessary.  In addition to the normal products out there, I recommend one of the ammonia based pre-wash products, such as ‘Soil-Love.’  These products are great for loosening up the oil and soil that attaches to the gloves.  Did you know that most dirt sticks to clothing because of moisture and body oil?

Be careful when cleaning your gloves.  Stay away from using any bleach as many gloves are made from synthetic materials and will turn yellow when bleached.

And you do not need to get rid of your gloves due to health regulations.  Last year someone held a news conference and said that to protect the children from Santa giving them the flu, Santa needed to get rid of his gloves.  That is not necessary.  Having hand sanitizers and disinfecting your set and Santa Chair will go a long way in protecting the children.  

Another great item for sanitizing your gloves is the alcohol based disinfecting sprays.  Every once in a while or after a child coughs on you, spray your gloves with this spray and it kills the germs.  I like the Clorox disinfecting wipes and spray. 

(The following is a commercial)

If you want something special, to add ‘magic’ to your appearance as Santa, you might be interested in “Rudolph’s Magic Glove.” 

This special glove allows Santa to give any child a special “Gift from Rudolph!”

The secret is a very bright, red ‘LED’ hidden in the index finger and connected to a tiny battery and switch in the palm of the glove.  As Santa points with his index finger, the rest of his fingers curl into his palm where one of the fingers presses the switch, making the LED light up. 

Here is how it works.  When Santa is talking to a child who tells him of being very, very good, Santa replies, “Since you have been good, I will show you the secret of how Rudolph’s nose ‘glows’ when we fly on Christmas Eve.”

Santa then points his finger towards the child’s nose and the tip of Santa’s finger begins to glow.  While doing this, Santa says, “Here is a little love message from Rudolph and me.”

Of course, the child, and everyone watching, is totally amazed.  You can order Rudolph’s Magic Glove at 

The Toy Bag

Another item that is truly identified with Santa is his toy bag.  Sometimes just seeing a photo or drawing of a large bag with drawstrings, and possibly a few toys or packages peeking out, will immediately have you saying ‘Santa’ or ‘Christmas.’  

Every Santa who makes public appearances, does home visits or corporate events, needs a good, heavy duty toy bag.  Please do not think about making one out of an old sheet or buying one of the ready made bags at the costume shops.  You need something that is strong and will make it through the holiday season.  Maybe through a few seasons.

You can find heavy duty red canvas, (cotton duck) at upholstery or canopy shops.  Buy 1 ½ to 2 yards.  Fold it in half and have the bottom and side sewed up with a double stitch.  Something like the stitch on your Levi’s.  If you can find some good soft rope or cord. Have it sewn in as a drawstring.  

Now you have a toy bag ready to use when ever anyone asks you to bring in the presents.

However, never carry more than you can handle.  I always recommend to my clients that a good measure of what I can easily handle is whatever they can fit into a regular 35 gallon trash bag.  That will usually fit right into my bag with out unloading and reloading. (See ‘Handy Hints for a Visit from Santa ’ in the Appendix)

If you have, or are planning to get, a custom Santa Suit, think about having a matching Toy Bag made.  It looks quite stylish.   As an alternative, you may want to consider having the bag made with green material to add some holiday color to your appearance.



Some Santas wear glasses and some like contacts.  Others are lucky and don’t need either.  Glasses are not a requirement for Santa.  He has been known to be seen with and without glasses over the past two centuries. But most of us are up in our years and our friend “Father Time” has decided we need some help. 

Unless you have a very extreme optic problem and need heavy lenses, please try to get simple gold frames.  If you have the old black frames, military frames or those giant Dior frames, get rid of them. 

I wear trifocals and I was still able to find a simple small oval frame in gold.  These work fine for every day and are perfect for my portrayal as Santa.

If you wear contacts, you might want to get a simple pair of gold framed reading glasses, just for adding character to your Santa. 



A few paragraphs back I mentioned my longer coat and that I had worn a vest with it.  I got the idea a few years ago, when I made a commercial in Mexico.  The producers dressed me as a Santa that was very similar to Henry VIII.  I had a broad coat with lapels and a beautiful Gold lame vest.  I even wore dark green velvet trousers. When I returned from Mexico I had Adele, (See Adele’s Costumes in the back of the book) make me the longer coat.  I searched quite a few shops and found a few vests that look great with the coat.

By the way, one of the benefits of wearing an open coat is that you are much cooler.  I do almost all of my work in California and even in December the California weather can be in the 80’s.



A few Santas like to wear a Cape.  The cape dates back to the robes of St. Nicolas in the third century.  It is very stylish and is seen in the pictures of his descendents through the centuries.  Some early photos and paintings of Santa Claus have him wearing a Cape.  A cape can substitute for a coat and can be worn with a vest.

One Santa, in Canada, has a beautiful Suit and a Cape that he wears with his suit. It is very dramatic.  And if you have seen me in the Hollywood Christmas Parade, on Dr. Phil or the Today Show, you may have seen one of my capes. 

For tree lighting ceremonies, grand entrances and very special occasions, the cape gives Santa a look of prestige and royalty.  Following the ceremony, it can be removed so you can be comfortable while visiting with the children.


Jewelry and Accessories

Some regular jewelry just does not fit with Santas wardrobe.  If you are a traditionalist, Santa does not wear a wristwatch.  But again, there are many cute holiday wristwatches today that some Santas can wear.  The important thing is that it fit your character. 

A gaudy Rolex-style, or giant diving watch, usually does not fit.   A red-banded watch with Santa’s picture, that plays jingle bells, does fit.

There are many other accessories that you can add to your suit.  Bells, Custom pins, suspenders, walking sticks, a pocket watch, etc.  My only recommendation is that whatever you add, make sure that it fits the character and period of your Santa Claus.  Stay away from items that are modern or out of character.

Bells are very popular and often a necessity for your character.  Some Santas have their bells sewn to their suits or attached to their belt.  Others carry a strap or bar with sleigh bells attached.

Be careful when buying bells.  Many decorator stores sell bells.  But while most of these bells look good, they sound terrible.  Check around.  I have found good bells at music stores, and Dance supply houses.  I have also found play time bells at school supply stores.  They are usually a canvas wrist strap, one inch wide, with Velcro on the ends and four bells riveted to the canvas.

 Tomorrow – The Care and Cleaning of Santa’s Suit

Suit Maintenance & care

Your Santa suit will get little use for about 10 months of the year.  And then it can get over worked.  If you are working in a mall or have events scheduled every day, you may need two or more suits. 

Wearing the same suit every day is not good.  And if you perspire a lot, you should even consider switching coats during the day and letting one air out while you wear the other.  When airing out a jacket, turn the coat inside out and hang on a large wide hanger.  By turning the inside of the coat out, the damp areas get more air and dry faster.

You should also use a good antiperspirant.  The less perspiration the coat absorbs ,the less often you have to get it cleaned.

Never just, drop your suit or pants on the ground.  The fur is like a magnet and picks up dust and dirt.  After a while, the fur is no longer beautiful and white.   

If you are a party or special event Santa, you should schedule times when your suit can be cleaned and cared for.

Santa Suits are generally heavy and require good strong hangers.  Don’t depend on wire hangers.  You do not want to find your suit on the floor!  I recommend you search around and find good cedar hangers.  Cedar hangers will help absorb the moisture and odors 

The larger the hanger the better.  Your suit is heavy and Large wood hangers fill out the shoulders and allow air to move in and out of the fabric. 

I suggest that you find separate hangers for your pants.  Let them air out too.

My good friend Santa Gordon Bailey works with a costume company.  He knows about the care of a Santa Suit.  He suggests that you have a back up suit for emergencies.  When you get a new suit, don’t toss out the old one.  Keep it as your back up.  He says, “An old suit that fits you is far better than no suit, or a rush job from a rental company.”

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