Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Alex Cohen & A Martínez

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

by Take Two

"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

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."

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