From Santa Hollywood

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

TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT THE SPIRIT OF GIVING

posted by SantaTim On October - 28 - 2013 Comments Off on TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT THE SPIRIT OF GIVING

Children spend hours, days, even weeks thinking about what they want for Christmas, and what they will tell Santa when they see him.  And often during this time, we as parents have a wonderful opportunity to teach the children some lessons on charity and giving.

I would like to suggest that while you are driving to see Santa, or waiting in line at the mall, that you talk with your children about what Santa means.  Simply stated Santa represents, love, and joy and giving.

No matter what your heritage or belief, you can explain to your children that Christmas is not, just a time for getting. Moreover, it’s really a time for thinking of others and of giving.

Sometimes, it’s a time for “Secret Giving.”  That’s were all the fun and joy really begins. Ask the children if they know of someone they could give something to?  Would they like to give something secretly?

Maybe your trip to visit Santa can also include shopping for some cards or gifts that your children can give to others.  Introduce them to the joy of giving.  It is a gift that they someday will thank you for.

Giving, also does not need to be expensive. It could be that secret giving is having the children create handmade holiday cards or decorations they could give to someone.

Or it could be making some cookies or treats and delivering them to a neighbor or senior citizen who doesn’t get out much. This kind of giving is a wonderful way to bring light and joy to others.

NOTE: This little lesson or example of giving is also a wonderful preparation for that day and time, when your child comes to you, and asks if you are really Santa, or explains that their friends are telling them that Santa is not real!

When your child has experienced “Secret Giving,” you have the key to explaining that for hundreds of years ago; in fact almost two centuries, St. Nicholas and many others, in societies around the world, all practiced “Secret Giving” in their daily lives and invited everyone to do it.

Explain that over the years, Parents and Families decided to honor St. Nicholas each December and give little gifts to their children. Eventually this giving to children was moved to Christmas Tim. And it was so much fun, that it is now done all over the world.

The parent can then announce to their child, “Now that you know the true secret about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus, you are now; officially welcome to become a Secret Giver, too!”

Working with agents

posted by SantaTim On September - 5 - 2013 Comments Off on Working with agents

For over ten years I have been contracting with other Santas to appear at locations all over the U.S. and even overseas.  And prior to that, for about five years, I was often just referring jobs to other Santas.  Recently I have noticed that there are many Santas who do not know how to properly respond to a job opening or opportunity.   I think I really did notice this quite often over the years, but I just dismissed it.

As I teach a lot of Santas and Mrs. Claus in my School4Santas, I realized that I need to add something to the training, on how to respond to agents and companies when a job is offered.

So, I sat down and put together some handy hints about responding to job offerings. And mark you, this is not just Santas responding to offers from my company, but pretty much guidelines on how to respond to other agents and all of the party/entertainment industry!

  1. If you are interested in a job offering, or even slightly interested, respond immediately by sending an email with a YES! Don’t waste time or procrastinate. Sometimes the first Santa or Mrs. Claus responding, will get the job, or will the first one in the door with the client. Remember sometimes clients will call a few agents and there might be more than one, two or three persons being considered for a job.  If you think you need to call, just leave a message that you just sent a confirming email.  Don’t waste the agent’s time.
  2. Have your best marketing photo ready and attach it to your YES email.  Even if you think they have the photo, send it again anyway. It saves the agent time in trying to remember who you are and having to look for your photo in their file. And the agent can quickly resend the photo to the client. Quick responses and efficiency are major keys in getting your foot in the door first.
  3. If  you have a conflict or reason that you might keep you from accepting the job, Still email your Yes, and inform the agent of the conflict.  At least the agent will know.   But, you must inform the agent in your email when you say yes.   Sometimes the conflict will keep you from the job.  Other times it might give the agent information that will allow them to adjust the job to fit your need.   NOTE:  Don’t call them with your conflict.  Just say yes, and add the information to your note to the agent.   Let the Agent do the rest.  If they want to talk, they will call you.
  4. Don’t ask questions with your first response. Don’t call with questions.  Don’t Email questions. You can do that later, after you said yes, and when the agent follows up with you. Agents are quite busy and often have more than one job or project they are working on.  Often the agent has given you all the information they can about the job.  Your calling or emailing with questions on salary, schedules, benefits and working conditions, are not a priority at the moment.    And often, the agent does not have all the details either. And if your question is “I will only apply for the job if …….,”  you have probably removed yourself from the job pool. This is a deal breaker, don’t ruin your chances by casting doubt with the agent. Also agents are busy; they really don’t need to waste time answering your questions.
  5. Don’t assume that you have the job.   Some Santas assume that they are the only one being contacted for the job, and they go ahead and block their calendars.   But if you haven’t heard back in a few days, in most cases the job probably went to another Santa or another company.   If the job is for a public appearance or Santa visit, and you have not heard back from the agent in three or four day, you can then call them.
  6. However, if the job is from a casting call on a television show, film, commercial or theater, you will only get a call if you got the job.  They will never call you to say “sorry, you didn’t get the job.”   Unfortunately in those industries, it is a practice not to follow up with those who did not make the cut.  Agents and casting directors will only call you if you are one of the finalists, often called, “on avail,”  or if you actually got the job.

Hopefully these suggestions will aid you in working with agents.  Of course all agents are different and respond differently with their entertainers and artists.  Hopefully any that you deal with will be easy to work with.

If you have any other suggestions or questions on this subject, please feel free to let me know.

12 Secrets to a Fun Visit with Santa

posted by SantaTim On November - 26 - 2012 Comments Off on 12 Secrets to a Fun Visit with Santa

Helpful information from Santa, to make your trip and visit to Santa a lot easier, more fun and possibly more rewarding.

The annual visit to Santa is often a very special occasion for most families.  For some it is a ritual with traditions.  For others it’s a fun day for shopping and visits with an old friend, who just happens tohave a white beard and wear a red suit.  I hope your visit is fun, enjoyable and memorable.  —  Santa

Every December, and often times a few weeks before, millions of children begin thinking of an upcoming mission, a quest if you wish, as they plan their annual visit to the Man in the Red Suit.

With their parents as guides, the children embark on a trip to their local mall, or favorite department store, to meet with Santa Claus.  While there, the mission or quest is to give Santa their wishes and toy requests for Christmas Morning.  And somewhere during that visit the parents usually hope to get their annual photo of the occasion.

For many families this activity is a wonderful and fun-filled experience.  For others, it can be terrifying and stressful.

How do I know?  I’m Santa.  Yes, I have spent over forty years wearing that famous red suit.  And from my experiences, I would like to share some thoughts and suggestions on how you can enjoy your annual visit.  And maybe even make it more meaningful to you and your children.

Here are my twelve secrets to having a fun visit with Santa:

  1. Plan ahead, Prepare for your visit. Try to stay away from long lines or the busy times of the day.  The best time is generally mornings on weekdays, especially in the early weeks of December.  Once school is out, the morning advantage is gone.  The lines on most weekday mornings are generally shorter.  Also your children will be rested and less cranky.   We all know that a tired or hungry child is not very happy when having to wait in line.  
  2. Prepare your child/children for their visit with Santa. A visit with Santa Claus can be quite scary for a small child.  The concept of there actually being a Santa Claus is hard for toddlers and babies to grasp,and they are also very attached to Mommy and Daddy.  Not to mention, Santa Claus can be a bit scary looking at first. Seeing all that all-red suit and white beard, could put Santa in the child’s mind as an alien!  In preparing to visit Santa Claus, read some books to your child about Santa.  Let them see pictures of Santa, or watch some cartoons or videos about Santa . (Note: you might want to stay away from “Bad Santa” or the scene in the Christmas Story, where Santa gives Ralphie the boot down the slide!)
  3. Do not anticipate that your baby or child should be afraid or scared of Santa Claus . . . or they will be.  Children are very good at sensing their parent’s feelings. If you are afraid or nervous, your baby will pick up on that, and react by crying or refusing to see Santa Claus.
  4. When getting your children ready, make it a fun activity.  If they are having fun, the photos will be more natural.  Getting a photo with Santa is sometimes like getting a photo with your favorite cartoon character at a theme park.  It should be fun.
  5. Don’t force your child to wear something they don’t like.  This will just put them in a bad mood and it will show in the photo.  Yes, we know that your photos may be for grandma, or possibly for use on your Christmas card, so you really do want your children dressed nicely.  But, try to make it fun when selecting what to wear.  A mother once told me her solution to getting a good photo, was two visits to Santa.  The first visit was to allow the children a chance to talk to Santa and make their requests.  The second visit was for the formal photo.  She let Santa know this and he made it a point to invite the kids to come back for the official photo.
  6. Before you leave the house, Santa recommends that you take along a few extra items.  No matter how hard you try, children are always going to get a little mussed-up or dirty when going anywhere.  So you might want to bring along one or more of the following items: a comb and brush; hairspray; wet-naps or moist towelettes; bobby pins or barrettes for long hair.  We know that most parents are usually very good at keeping their children clean.  But, in a hectic event like this, kids will always surprise us.
  7. Give yourself plenty of time. Trying to rush creates tension and leads to stress.  Set aside an entire morning or afternoon to make your trip to Santa, and maybe do some family shopping or sightseeing.  When you have plenty of time, long lines and crowds are much easier to cope with.
  8. Before you get in line, let your children observe how other children are standing in line. Point out the area where Santa is sitting.  This way, they are not surprised when they actually get in line and eventually get to the front. This will also allow you to watch your child and read their body language, to see if they are ready, emotionally.
    When it is time for pictures with Santa Claus, if your child is too scared, you might want to consider a group photo with you holding your child or having your child stand next to Santa.  Some Santas are very experienced with frightened children and have ways of easing the fright and getting a good photo.  Work with Santa.
  9. The Introduction. Sometimes a helper or assistant will sometimes greet the children and then escort and introduce them up to Santa.  Other times you will get the honors.  And I recommend that with children 4 and under, parents always be allowed to escort their own children to Santa.   When this happens, be informal and when you get to Santa introduce your child or children by saying, “Santa, here is Tommy, or here are Jamie and Susan.”  This is a wonderful way of breaking the ice and showing the children Santa is not scary.
  10. Say hello to Santa First.  If there is still some fear of Santa, maybe you can shake Santa’s hand.  There is nothing wrong with a parent starting the visit with a hello to Santa, maybe even a little hand shake.  Sometimes a child seeing their parent and Santa as friends, helps the child to relax.
  11. If you have a baby or toddler you should carefully place the child in Santa’s arms. Newborn to six month old babies should be handed directly too Santa.  If there are other children, seat them first.  Then lastly, place the baby with Santa and step back so the photographer can take the photos.  After the photo is taken, you can remove the baby and Santa can talk with the other children.
  12. The best photos are taken in the first five seconds.  Help seat your children and then quickly back out of the photo area.   A good photographer should be ready to quickly grab that very special moment.  Sometimes a photographer can catch the baby or toddler before they know what is going on and start crying.   After the photo, Santa can talk to the children. One other suggestion for infants and babies, always place the baby or infant in Santa Claus’ arms. Never let Santa take the baby from you. It is always better if a parent places the child into Santa’s arms.
  13. Share and teach the meanings of Santa Claus and Christmas.  One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is teaching them the values of giving, sharing and helping others.  Explain that Santa or St. Nicholas’ work began with the idea of helping others and the custom spread to presenting gifts to Children and others on Christmas Morning.  Talk to your children about Santa and what he represents.  That Christmas is not always about “Getting,” it’s about “Giving,” too!  Sometimes Secret Giving!Ask them if they know someone they could surprise?  Would they like to give something secretly?  Maybe your trip to visit Santa can also include shopping for some cards or gifts that your children can give to others.  Introduce your children to the joys of giving and secret giving.  Who knows, the gift of joy, from helping or giving to others, may be the best gift they ever receive.   And maybe, someday, they’ll thank you.

In visiting Santa, everyone should try to have fun.  And, if you are prepared the visit will not only be fun, it will be rewarding, for your children, and for you too!   Make sure that you take the time to enjoy what this season is all about.

And don’t forget, you’re never too old to have wishes, or to sit on Santa’s Lap, and maybe even get a photo!

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©Copyright 2011, Timothy Connaghan, RealSantas.com

2012 Info on Insurance & Background Checks

posted by SantaTim On October - 8 - 2012 Comments Off on 2012 Info on Insurance & Background Checks

Keeping Santas and Mrs. Claus informed with an unbiased report on sources and costs for liability insurance and background checks.

Each year, there are changes to what types and kinds of insurance Santa and Mrs. Claus need when working.  This applies not only to work in the Mall and paid appearances at companies and home,  but also to any charitable work.

This is my eleventh year of sending out information on insurance and background checks.   I collect this information so that every Santa can have a full picture of what insurance and background programs are available.  All of it is posted on-line and as I get updates or changes, I make those to my web site.  http://www.realsantas.com/liabilityinsurance.htm

2013 CHANGES

There are not too many changes in the insurance offerings for 2013.  Last year some of the insurance companies began offering different levels of insurance, as some locations required Santa to have higher coverages.  So now we see $2-milion and $3-million policies.  This year other companies have also added that coverage.  Again, all of this information is at:  http://www.realsantas.com/liabilityinsurance.htm

WORKMAN’S COMP INSURANCE

A new twist this year, that only three or four Santas have contacted me about, is the requirement of having Workman’s Comprehensive Insurance, more commonly known as Workman’s comp.   Again, I am not an expert on insurance, but this is what I have learned.

Recently some shopping Centers and business venues have started requiring anyone working their premise to have Workman’s Comp coverage.  The require it for everyone they contract with or who provides services to their company.  And now, in a very small number of cases, this includes performers, artists, etc.

Basically the venues are trying to protect themselves against any losses that may arise should anyone working on their premise slip, fall or hurt themselves in the course of their performance.

Now, you may say to yourself, I already have liability insurance.  Well so doe the mall or venue.  Their liability insurance protects them should someone visiting the location get hurt.   Your liability policy does the same for you.  Liability policies do not protect the owner of the policy, that’s you, from your own injuries.  And a liability insurance policy does not protect the venue, should you get hurt.

I have added some information to my web site, but currently do not have any listing of sources for Workman’s Comp.   You will need to check with your business or homeowners agent, or check out one of the agencies elsewhere on the web.

BACKGROUND CHECKS

Today’s society is very cautions on who they entrust their children too.  With the every widening scope of the media, and the instant access that the world has, we constantly hear stories about bad situations.  And this causes concern with the venues and the families bring their children to see Santa.   So we take the positive approach of assuring the venues and families that Santa is a Safe person for the children to be with.

Background checks are currently offered by different companies and also through some of the associations. The cost is very minimal, anywhere less than $20 and upwards of $50, depending on the investigating agency and where you live.  One of the associations uses the FBI, which is the Gold Standard in background checks and it only costs $18.00.  By the way, anyone can request an FBI check by visiting their website: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/criminal-history-summary-checks/submitting-a-criminal-history-summary-request-to-the-fbi

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In closing, I remind every Santa, whether working at paid jobs or doing volunteer work, to have a basic liability policy and a background check.  Yes, I know there are some of you out there who are saying to yourselves, “Why I have been a Santa for over 20-years and this is ridiculous!”   Well, the world has changed in the past twenty and thirty years.  And we need to keep up with the changes.

I do not offer insurance, nor background checks through my company.   The reason I do not offer these is  two fold.

First, if I did offer these services I would have to charge a fee to Santas to administer and manage the applications.  Now here is the “Catch-22,”  it is illegal to charge a fee to clients or even prospective clients for any services!   So, yes I could offer the insurance, but I would not be able to charge any fees.  Only the true non-profit trade associations are allowed to do that.

And Secondly, I really should not be handling your personal information or data.  That is something that really should be done by bonded professionals.  In fact, I am sometime concerned about the local Associations collecting or monitoring such data.

But I can, and do, require that any Santa or individual that I contract, have liability insurance and proof of background check.  That is why I searched out sources for these services.  It allows those who work with me to find what they need.

The information I collected lists the insurance companies and Santa associations that offer insurance and background checks.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS INFORMATION ON INSURANCE AND BACKGROUND CHECK SOURCES

If after visiting my web site you know of other insurance companies or Santa Associations that offer similar services, I can add them to the list.  So feel free free to contact me.

I cannot tell you which insurance or back ground check is best for you.  Nor can I tell you which association or club is best for you.  Each insurance company is licensed and registered.  Each Santa association is a corporation and offers insurance from a licensed agency.  In fact, before they can even offer special insurance to their members, they too have to be insured.

You may want to check out some other blogs on this site about background checks and, “Protecting Santa Claus.”  You can read them at: blog.santahollywood.com

The first article covers information on why you need a background check.  The second covers liability insurance.  And the third gives some advice on limiting your liability to accidents.

I hope through the information on my special web page and the blogs, that you can be informed on your options for insurance and background checks.

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