I had the experience of being paid to be Santa Claus in Australia. I’ve got to say, it was probably one of the weirdest and most enjoyable jobs I have done to date. It was only for a short time of 5 days in a small shopping centre on the Gold Coast. Which in hindsight I am super grateful it was a smaller venue – I’ve not quite passed big boy Santa school yet.
It was all a very last minute affair. I only accepted the job 4 days before it started. My “uniform” arrived a few days before but there was one part missing. The trousers. I tried it on and it was a bizarre look to say the least.
Thankfully I only had two days as this new rendition of Santa before my proper trousers arrived. However, even with my nice cool (in both senses of the word) trousers this thing was hot to wear. The few minutes I had it on had me sweating buckets. I had a sudden realisation maybe Santa shouldn’t visit Australia.
The first day was definitely the hardest. I had so many doubts of what I was doing as I can’t say I’ve ever had much experience as Santa or anything similar.
The first hour I felt glued to my chair in the shopping centre as I was too scared to get up and walk around. I had no idea how to act as Santa, I definitely should have prepared some more. It didn’t take too long until I started to relax some more. People were saying “Merry Christmas” Giving me smiles, kids were waving as they walked by.
The first thing that shocked me though was how many adults commented on how young I was. I’d always rebuttal their claims claiming Mrs. Claus gives me a good moisturiser. I found it amusing at first, however it felt like every second person was saying it and it grew old very fast. A tip for everyone out there: If you think you’re the first to make a funny joke about Santa looking young you’re more likely the 500th of the day.
My job was actually as a roaming Santa. So after I settled into my boots I went for a stroll. I had a small wicker basket to hand sweets out to shoppers. There was one issue in that there were no children. Only retired people out for a wander. Even though they still deserved sweets as well, there was one lady who would stare at me every time I walked past as she wanted more sweets. I gave in the first two times but after that I tried to avoid her from stealing all the kids sweets. She turned out to frequent the shopping centre and sit in the same spot for hours every single day. Every time I walked past her she’d stare right into my soul wanting more sweets.
The first day ended rather quickly, other than a pounding headache from the wig squeezing my head all day, it all went rather smoothly in the end. I took a few photos with people, wandered around, gave out lots of sweets and spread that festive joy.
The rest of the days:
I’ll be honest I’m super bad at writing down what happened and the rest of the days just blurred into one. So this will mainly be a collection of those thoughts in a random order.
The rest of the days did drag a little. As it was a very quiet shopping centre I was in and I had a clock right opposite me. It felt like every time I looked the hands had not moved. So when I had people come and talk to me I was always overjoyed.
There was nothing more heart warming than seeing how excited some of the kids would be to see Santa. They brought me letters and even a little treat sometimes. The letters were always nice to read but I never knew what to do with them. As it felt horribly wrong to just throw them out.
As for the treats, it wasn’t just kids who gave me them. It was mainly adults. I had one lady come up and ask if I’d take a picture with “Barry”. I thought perhaps she was going to get her dog out the car or something. But no, she pulls out a small doll from her bag. This was a strange doll that parts had been changed on. It had really veiny muscle-y arms. Anyway, she took a picture of Santa and the doll then gave me a card and a box of celebrations – made it a lot less creepy. Although a small part of me thinks that doll may be cursed and now I’m going to carry a creepy doll curse for the rest of my life.
I had other people offering to buy me drinks all the time as they empathised with how hot it must be. My favourite was a glass bottle Fanta. Sooooo much better than plastic. I had to wait hours before I could taste that sweet orange fizzy juice as I wasn’t allowed to drink in costume. This usually lead to me getting severely dehydrated over the 4 hours I was working. This plus side was that I meant I didn’t need to go for a wee which would probably have taken an hour to to get in and out the suit.
Now taking photos was a funny part of the job. But what surprised me the most was the age group that was most scared to ask for a photo. It was always people in their early to mid twenties who always seemed the most timid to ask. Maybe it was because they knew it was just a person in a suit.
The mums were always so eager to get the children to take photos. Even if you can see it’s the last thing the child wants. There was so many crying babies just handed over to me. I don’t even know how to hold a baby, let alone stop it crying.
Most of the photo’s were really fun to do. Everyone smiling and laughing. The biggest group I had was of 20 people. I don’t even think I could be seen in the photo!
Overall, it was an amazing experience to be Santa. Meeting so many people who were overjoyed to see me, spreading Christmas joy. Just being able to make people smile was fantastic. Even the kids who pulled my beard. The pain of wearing the suit and wigs was definitely worth it. Just to see those little smiles light up.