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Ask A Santa: Tips on how to take the perfect picture with Old St. Nick

"We took my daughter to the Huntington Library for the Santa photo. We knew she was going to freak out, and she didn't disappoint. We're terrible parents."—Teresa Wang
Take Two host Alex Cohen and her family pose for a photo with Santa.
Alex Cohen
Michael Pesina shared this Santa pic on Facebook.
"I really wanted a photo of all three of my children with Santa Claus! So once my two sons, Michael and Craig, were on the chair with Santa, I stepped forward with my daughter, Erinn, and placed her on his lap . . . As you can see she wasn't happy and neither was Santa! But, even after 41 years, it is still one of my favorite Santa pictures!"—Lynne Tillman
"Picture taken at my dad's unit (military) Christmas party in Germany. They thought it would be fun to have 'Santa' at the party for the kids. At just over a year old, I'm not having any of it."—Craig Ellefson
Mark Aguas's son Henry makes a break for it.
"Santa looks smashed! A little too much nog. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time."—Fred Folsom
KPCC reporters Sanden Totten, Mary Plummer, and Annie Gilbertson are joined by Santa and friends.
Courtesy Annie Gilbertson

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Santa pictures can be daunting for parents during the holiday season. Whether it’s their first time or their tenth time, you never know how your child will react to the strange man in a white beard. 

So how do you get your kids to flash their adorable smiles while on Santa's lap?

RELATED: Do you have an awkward Santa photo?

Who better to talk to us than Santa himself, the man who has taken pictures with hundreds of children around the coast. Santa Don White is a member of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas (yes, that's a thing), and he's been playing Santa for 12 years. 

In his long career as Old St. Nick, White has seen it all. From kids who are ecstatic to see him to those who will do anything to get away from him. 

"I have been kicked in the groin on numerous occasions, I have had my glasses broken from a headbutt from a child, I almost dropped that child," said White on Take Two. "I ended up squeezing my legs together and the guy slid down my legs as if it was a slide. I had to take a few minutes to clear my head for that one." 

He joins the show to offer some tips that he's gathered throughout his years as jolly Old St. Nick. 

Interview Highlights:

How parents can help their kids be cool with Santa: 

"Each child is different and each child has a different fear factor, and not knowing what runs through the child's mind, it's difficult to say. I know a lot of parents read stories about Santas, they watch movies about Santa, but there's something different about seeing Santa on the TV or in a book than the reality of turning the corner and here he is sitting live in front of them and they come to a dead stop. I suggest that parents  come early in the season to get to know Santa in a casual way." 

On what he does to put a kid at ease: 

"I try to look at each child and see what kind of look they have on their face, and that will tell me how to react. Some kids, I can be overanimated, other children I have to be very calm and reserved and try to coax the child. Here we tell our kids, you don't take candy from strangers, but yet Santa's tempting that child with a candy cane. There's sometimes the child is just going to scream and there's nothing you can do about it, and I know some of the parents are frustrated and I feel for them, but I try to hold the child as calmly as I can without the fists and the hands going all over the place."

On how he stays jolly when dealing with a terrified child: 

"I keep smiling and bite my tongue, seriously that's all you can do. The children aren't doing it maliciously, they in their own way they're telling mommy and daddy they don't really want to be there, and yet mom and dad really want to get their picture, so I want to be as helpful as I can and try to help out with that experience for them."