It wasn’t a deliberate decision, but for the past two years I’ve been on Santa sabbatical.
It’s felt a little weird, especially this year; kind of like the feeling an active church-goer gets when they’ve missed worship for a few Sundays. It’s like the rest of the week feels a little off when you’ve missed church.
Stress has been a factor, along with my wife’s health struggles, and a recent transition from care center chaplaincy to serving a new church in a new town. I did some of my best “Santa-ing” at the care center, but also felt the biggest push-back I’ve ever experienced, from people whose strongly-held religious beliefs had convinced them that Santa was an inappropriate person to appear there (and that a pastor-type person had no business portraying him).
There’s a lot more tolerance at my new setting, and health concerns aren’t nearly as big as they’ve been.
So let’s raise a toast to the New Year, 2019, with the hope that it’s going to be a great year for all us Jolly Old Elves, Mrs. Clauses, elves and reindeer!
A Lesson in Storytelling: I have long collected history and story books on Christmas and Santa Claus. While this collection started out just for pure enjoyment, I now find these books a great resource to me in my portrayal.
I was reminded on a recent family road trip of a very special book, after enjoying the audio version with the family.
“Letters From Father Christmas” This is a collection of illustrated letters from “Father Christmas” recapping the activities of the preceding year at the North Pole. The letters were written by the author J.R.R. Tolkien (yes THAT J.R.R. Tolkien) to his children from 1920-1942. These letters, precious and creative gifts from a master storyteller, were shared with the world after his death and published in 1976. How lucky we are as a community, to have been gifted with a look at these special and person family treasures.
Many historians believe that these letters and stories were some of the building blocks to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. It’s even said that Gandalf had his early beginnings as Tolkien’s Father Christmas.
I highly recommend you purchase a copy of these letters and even pick up the audio version. While I am not saying to copy the stories in your portrayal, it has always been clear that Tolkien created his worlds...he fleshed them out.
From the battle of the goblins and elves, to the troubles of the polar bears, to the Arctic language and more, Tolkien helped make the North Pole and Father Christmas REAL for his own children. From his drawing to even the shakiness of his handwriting, he created layers of story.
I believe this is what can be done, in our mind, at the ready, create your layers and depth of your character. It has been said, looking the part just is not enough. When I am portraying Santa Claus, it is my hope that my ramblings and details could only mean one thing to those I visit...that perhaps, just maybe... I really am Santa Claus. 🎅🏻
There are quite a few charities that I love to work with, mostly involving children’s advocacy and care, music, and education. I find that as we find ways to help within our communities, we are gifted with opportunities to grow, to touch other people’s lives, and truly make a difference. I find at times that I may be grumpy, depressed, or negative, finding ways to serve others is a great medicine. One of my favorite volunteer positions is as a curator and docent for one of the more important bonsai gardens in the US, the Lake Merritt Bonsai Garden.
The tree next to me in the picture is just one of the more than 200 amazing trees on display. A black pine that was on display at the 1915 Pan-Pacific World Fair of San Francisco. At the time it was a 300 year old famous bonsai tree and a true novelty to see here. Now, over 400 years old, it’s a special treat to care for this tree and see it stays healthy for future generations. This is one of my decompressing activities to relax and think. Recently during a day in the garden volunteering with my son, I took an oppotunity to reflect on things. Our life is but a short moment, are we leaving something positive behind when the time comes to pass from our mortal life? Have we helped brighten someone else’s life? Made a difficult time easier for someone? Supported a good cause? I think all of us can do SO much.
There is a phrase used often at the garden, “Wabi-Sabi” it’s a Japanese concept seen in art and ascetics that could apply to us in the Santa world too. It means, “Nothing is perfect, nothing is permanent, nothing is finished.” I apply this to how I portray Santa, it can be applied anywhere. From purposely placing a patch on Santa’s bag or other item to make it look real, used, loved, like it’s so old it has been repaired. It could also mean an internal dialog in recognizing, “I am never done learning, I am never done finding ways to be better...always a student.”
Sorry for the long post. As I enjoy the peace and quiet of the garden, wearing my ISC Denver shirt and yet again, my mind goes to Santa Claus and the Christmas community. I love my time here and I love spending time with my son learning. Have an amazing day everyone! Make someone smile today, tell someone they are loved, and find ways to make a difference. Love you all.
My fellow Christmas enthusiasts,
It is no secret that identity thievery has been, and is continuing to be a real threat to social networking. Yes, even among those of the Christmas Community. Not all things are sugar plumbs and candy canes in our community.
I can't recall how many times I have been cloned on Face Book, but it has been far too many. I have had to abandon accounts, close accounts, and or otherwise just remove all the information on accounts (including friends lists) not because I wanted to, but because I can not afford to have a hard earned online presence be compromised this way. I became complacent at one point, "just part of the networking thing" I told myself. Well, I am not going to be complacent any longer.... especially in my Christmas Community Networking. Some have noticed a distinct drop in my usual online presence and community involvement. This cloning of identities is in large, part of the reason I simply have not been "around" as much as usual. Its a shame, because my involvement has, over the years become an important of my Santa Personae. My improvement, over time, has been a direct affect of my interaction with others of similar interests, sharing ideas, ideas, and experience on line. MOST of which has come right here, being on ClausNet. ClausNet has always been a much "kinder and gentler" online community where people can share and learn from some of the best examples of dedicated men and women in our industry.
Over the last couple of weeks, there have been attempts by someone or someones trying to log into my account here. Yes, here on ClausNet, you heard that right. As far as I know, no one has been successful but the continued attempts have me rather peeved. The IP of the person or persons attempting to steal their way into ClausNet have been coming from The Bay Area of California. A place where I have spent many off season hours visiting family and friends.
Of course someone wanting to be me is completely understandable, who wouldn't? (Sarcastic comment)
In my nearly 9 years of involvement here on ClausNet, I have learned much. More than you can at ANY Santa School, more than you can learn at any one specialized training session or seminar, online or in person. At a point early on, I realizes just what a wonderful place ClausNet was AND is. I have done what I can to contribute positively by offering advice, shared one on one, and open forum discussions. I have made many friends here, some have generated some direct phone contact, as well as, when possible some face to face meetings and strong relationships. A closeness if you will and surely a complement to my performances as a working Santa Claus.
As for myself, I felt I owed my friends an explanation and thus this blog post.
For now, my involvement will be curtailed. I can't say forever, because it is hard to stay away from something you love. And I do love ClausNet.
Thank you for your friendship, advice, and concern. This is NOT a goodbye note, simply a note of respite from usual activities. I sincerely appreciate your understanding.
After multiple hacks, clones, excessive drama, I have closed my FB accounts.
There is an element of freedom in doing so, and I am glad it is done, fine', over, quit, outahere.
Mainly, I am frustrated with FB's lack of interest in controlling cloning accounts. It is as though they simply don't care, or perhaps they are producing the clones themselves to have Billions of accounts, and boost their advertising revenue. What ever the case may be, I'm done playing the game and taking my marbles and going home.
This past week Bill and I were in MI taking care of business as his mother's legal guardian ( she has Alzheimer's ) and also some of the affairs involving his sister's and bother's in law death this past December. It brought back thoughts of a blog I wrote 4-5 years ago and i have decided to share it once more, I present this with love.
Holy week (or Passion Week) has always been especially meaningful to me. In my family, Lent was a time to reflect and renew. During this time of reflection, I am often brought to tears of humbleness thinking about the sacrifice that was made for me. The last week of Christ's life, as told in the Bible, is filled with amazing accounts, leading to the gut wrenching account of betrayal, denial and crucifixion. Then ending in the great crescendo of Christ's resurrection.
This week I attended yet another family funeral; number 4 in about 10 weeks. First two wonderful elderly Aunts, then my sister and now a cousin (younger than I). As I sat in the church, observing the draped crucifix, I noticed a realistic looking rooster high in a window, perched on a red draped small bale of straw. A vivid reminder to all of us, how we all fall short of our good intentions and promises. As I looked at all of this, I thought of all that has transformed these past few weeks on ClausNet. We argue and discuss, like a dysfunctional family reunion. All having the healthy need to agree and disagree in order to grow. One theme always comes out. Jesus is the reason for the season. But there is an added truth. The one factor that makes Christians different from any other religion is THIS season. All great philosophers are born and they die. All have followers who idolize their teachings. But only Christians have a living savior. He is risen. He lives. Not only does he live, but He took our place. We are the reason, for this Season. He died for us. Without this, celebrating His birth makes us no different from any other religion.
Bill had a beard long before he became an Ambassador for Santa Claus. Most of the time, he's just plain, old Bill who happens to have a white beard. But looking around this sanctuary I realized , at least i think I understood a bit better, that if we tried to make him be Santa all year long, we were only reminding people of Christ's birth, or Christmas. That is only half the story. The real story is in His Resurrection. Please think about this when you are out and about these next couple of days. Please remember to keep the emphasis on Christ’s sacrifice and leave the glory there- not on Santa.
These are the musing of an old woman working through her grief in the loss of a sister, whose fate lies solely in the hands of God, not mine. I do not mean to impose my beliefs on anyone. Nor do we plan on having Bill shave his beard. But I am hoping that maybe this blog, poorly written as it may be, will be of comfort to others who chance upon it.
David Meece wrote a wonderful song that seems to fit so well into our life ( Bills and Mine). I hope it will be a Blessing to anyone who reads this. God Bless you. Judi
ClausNet has, in my opinion, has always been an informative resource to Santas of all levels.
In comparison with other social media, FB and other inter web Christmas enthusiasts sites and groups I get the perception that ClausNet is much kinder.
Sure, we have spirited and vastly divided topics that are discussed. Some of which become very passionate and polarizing and emotionally driven. Let’s face it, as a Christmas enthusiast, we have certain levels of passion. Without that passion, I would not be motivated to blog, and you would not take the time to read it.
Recently (not on CN) I have noticed an upsurge in what appears to me to be a bunch of old guys hanging around waiting for Christmas again and since its not here yet, have become grumpy or perhaps that is their natural tendency. I doubt they would participate in a poll or survey on my assumption but that if neither here nor there.
On FB, in the last few weeks I have noticed Santa posting photos or their new suit, new boots, or something trade related. In variably someone chimes in with criticism. Blasting the poster photo, what he bought, how it fits, how they should NEVER wear boot spats, never this beard or that. Yes, granted some are asking outright for thoughts on the photo. This is good, its how we learn, how we make the best of what we got. To see someone (supposedly a brother in red) tear into their photo with a vengeance.
There are ways that constructive criticism can and should be offered. Destructive criticism however, can suck the spirit right out of someone. It can cause hurt feelings, and in the very least not help. By using constructive criticism you can say the very same thing as a destructive critic without sucking the spirit out of someone.
I am very glad that ClausNet offers more information than any school provides, the knowledge base is huge and growing daily. The information is here, you do have to work to seek it out it is not spoon fed and it is like finding that golden nugget that gives you that “aha” moment.
ClausNet is so much Kinder and Gentler than most places but, it can only remain so by those who participate who keep their minds on being helpful and not hurtful.
Thanks for reading.
Well 2018 and so too the Santa School season With a LOT of choices this year from various schools
I will be teaching the "Santa and the Business of being Santa" school with the 4 instructors that have franchised under my Brand.
There are 4 US instructors working across the lower 48 and 1 in Canada. The current schedule for classes are:
Greater Atlanta, GA – Saturday & Sunday, Feb. 17 – Feb. 18, 2018 – 8 am to 6 pm
SUN CITY, CA EDITION –Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24th-25th, 2018 – 9 am to 6 pm both days
GARLAND, TX EDITION –Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24th-25th, 2018
SHREVEPORT, LA EDITION – Saturday & Sunday, March 17th-18th, 2018 – 9 am to 6 pm each day.
LAS VEGAS, NV EDITION –Saturday and Sunday, April 28th-29th, 2018 – 9 am to 6 pm both days.
HOUSTON, TX EDITION – Saturday & Sunday, May 26th-27th, 2018 – 9 am to 6 pm each day.
STROUD, OK EDITION – Saturday & Sunday, May 5th-6th, 2018 – 9 am to 6 pm each day.
WILLIAMSBURG, VA EDITION –Tuesday and Wednesday, May 15th-16th, 2018 – 9 am to 6 pm both days.
NASHVILLE, TN EDITION – Saturday & Sunday, June 2nd-3rd, 2018 – 9 am to 6 pm each day.
RIO RANCHO, NM EDITION – Saturday & Sunday, AUG 11th-12th, 2018 – 9 am to 6 pm each day.
Vancouver, British Columbia Canada- Saturday & Sunday July 14-15 2018 - 9 am to 6 pm each day
More classes are being scheduled and all it takes is ten full tuition students to have a class in your area! Cost is still $250 for student and a sponsored guest that shares your books is only $100. All prices US. Included in the cost of the school are the three Textbooks with over 560 pages of text, small props, hand outs and written notes along with a diploma and 12 months of mentoring through contact with the 5 instructors with a combined experience of over 130 years.
To find out more go to satbobs.com to read about the school, schedule and the textbooks.
May your season be Joyous!
Tonight, I will be making my final appearance as Santa Claus for 2017. As I come to the end of my first year as a professional Santa Claus, I have been giving much thought about what my motivation to take up this calling is.
The reason is certainly not the money that can be made. While Mrs. Claus and I have earned a fair amount of dollars, it doesn’t really cover all of the expenses I incurred to get ready for the Season, and may not next year. It certainly didn’t last year, when I made one unpaid costumed appearance, and well as several informal “out of costume” appearances, all on my own time.
My motivation wasn’t really clear to me until recently. As we drifted into the holiday season, I purchased the usual Christmas gifts, including some for my wife. The gifts I purchased for her were fairly mundane items that I knew she would appreciate, but just things that I had seen. What relates to Santa Claus is that she kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas.
There are a lot of things that I want, but none of them are appropriate Christmas gifts. My desires for new electronic goodies (high end Computer, HF Ham rig, etc.) are more than I could reasonably expect someone to buy for me. The little things that would be appropriate for a gift… well, if I wanted it, I already had it. It was that kind of situation. My usual response was "I'm Santa Claus now. I give presents. I don't need to get presents."
We resolved the problem by going down to the local shopping area and hitting some of the stores… first Best Buy, and then Bed Bath and Beyond. We finally agreed to get a useful kitchen gadget which could then be wrapped as my “Christmas present”.
Last night, as I was falling asleep, the reason I enjoy being Santa occurred to me. As the Jolly Old Elf, I get to give gifts to people, and don’t need a gift in return. Sure, the physical gifts that I hand out at home appearances are provided by the parents who hired me, but the gift that I actually provide are the memories that I create for those families. If I can entertain with a song, a joke, or a story, I consider my efforts successful. When I bring joy to a child through interaction with Santa Claus, wonderful. That I provide myself as a prop for a parent to snap a photo of their child with is good too. (And you may be surprised at how many adults want a picture of themselves with Santa!) If I can make the children… and more importantly, the adults… understand that Christmas is about the happiness of giving to others, it will better help them come to understand the true meaning of Christmas.
Do I consider accepting payment for me efforts as Santa contrary to this spirit of giving? Not in the least. If I did not receive this remuneration, I wouldn’t be able to be the best Santa that I can be, and wouldn’t be able to maintain the role for long. As I feel my way into being Santa Claus, I have determined that I will continue to make the free appearances that first introduced me to the role, while charging the market rate where appropriate.
To bring the topic back around to Christmas, this is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, son of God, gifted to us by God to forgive us of our sins. God is the Father that already has everything that He wants. There is nothing that we can provide to Him that He needs. God has given us what we need. If we could only learn to follow His example we would be better for it.
I'm getting old.
Yes, I know it's almost a prerequisite of portraying a convincing Santa Claus, but it has disadvantages.
As I type this blog post, I sit at my computer with aching feet and sore back. The last few hours have been spent climbing up and down stairs, taking measurements, and cutting laminate flooring to fit that last little bit of a floor project I've been working on, only to find when I return upstairs that I cut the wrong end of the board as often as not. My fit bit tells me I've climbed 15 flights of stairs so far, and I did a similar amount yesterday. Not quite done yet... I still have a strip about 3" wide and 7 or 8 feet long that includes a door opening. Should get it done after a short rest, and that's it for today! The baseboards can wait a weekend or two!
A few weeks ago, my wife finally concluded that we needed to go on a diet. She decided on one of the low carb diets, which I had dabbled with before, but couldn't follow through on because she was a fan of Spagghetti, and similar foods. Now, with her buy in we've managed to stick to the plan (as much as I like spuds, rice, bread, and pasta too!), and I'm down 12 or 14 pounds so far. Since there's no reason to expect that this trend won't continue, I broke down and ordered a slightly smaller belt (I noticed the last one was on it's last notch already, and a little loose).
What else has been happening? Ordered a Santa bag from HALCO. Nice material, if plain. I've got it into an embroidery shop right now to have it decorated, and I bought one of Eileen's Santa name tags (thanks Eileen!). Along with all the other gear I've been accumulating, or making, I should be good to go when the season rolls around.
Yes, it's my first season (outside of sitting as SC for my HOA last year). But it's looking promising. My partner, Lou Shelton, and I have already arranged for 8 gigs, which in the grand scheme of things isn't that many, but I figure that this year is pure learning. I've been studying the subject with Steve Gillham and his group, and Ron Campbell has been advising several of us new Santa's. I figure that it pays to listen to old pros like that.
So yes, I'm getting old. However, when I look at some of the great Santa Claus's that I have as role models, maybe that isn't such a bad thing.
Today was a productive day, sort of.
I started the day by re-bleaching my beard, which I haven't done over most of the summer. Since my beard tends to be grey anyway, it wasn't strictly necessary until later in the season. But the reason I did so is the next thing:
At the request of one of the photographers that I will working with this season, I visited her in-home studio to do a practice photo session with her kids, to generate some promo shots for use on her website and my own. Since this is my first year, and I don't have pics with kids yet, I was willing to do this on an otherwise unused Saturday morning. I don't know if I'd be quite so willing to do this if I had more experience, and a collections of photos to post. But I might, since relationships like this can be useful.
As a beginning Santa Claus, I am learning that there are a lot of moving parts to this occupation. Care and feeding of reindeer, toy manufacturing, bell jingling, not to mention working with things like GigSalad, PayPal, and so forth. I was on the phone with one of my gigs yesterday, and found that she could not make a payment on my personal PayPal page, since she didn't have a PayPal account. She suggested that I try a business account. So I did, and it was easy. Learn something new every day.
" One word only. What's one word you could give a new Santa or Mrs. Claus that is starting out that sums it all up? "
I found this an interesting thought project! My answer was "Build". My one word of advice, "Build".
But what did I mean? What do you "Build"? (Another word for "Build" would be "Develop") and so the the source for this particular blog. Lets begin at the start, shall we? When you first decided to portray "Santa" you needed to put together the look you will present as Santa Suits look pretty much the same all over with slight differences in detail, material used in construction of it and the items you accessorize the basic Suit with such as Belt, Buckle, Boots, pins, buttons, Beard, hat, Bag and bells. That is about it except.... clientele, presentation, advertising and building your business.
Build your appearance by taking care with the selection of your Suit and materials making it. continue to build your appearance with Grooming your Hair, Beard and health. Since all of these are in a constant state of repair or maintenance Look in the Tool box and see what tools you have to work with here. Do you sew? Do you have some one that does? Hair care, do you understand how the chemicals you would be using on your head and face! Finally do you have qualified contractors on hand near by that can do that job for you charging a reasonable price for the service? That should cover the "Building" part, yes? No!
Build your presentation. Build your "Act" as "Santa" that you will present to the Audience you perform for. Private Family visit, Corporate Employee Christmas Party. Corporate Customer Promotion party, Strolling Santa in a Store or Mall, Sitting in a Chair in a Mall as the subject focus in a "Three and Done!" photo opportunity or televisiting in a Children's Hospital or visiting an Adult Assisted care for Memory challenged (along with many more various situations). Better get out that tool box and see what tools you have to work with.and remember, if all you have is a hammer, your approach to every problem will be to pound them. Look to stock your tool chest with tools that will finesse the project rather than beat it to death with your "Mighty Ho, Ho, HO!" hammer. Having a Story telling Flat head Screw driver combined with a Carol singing Phillips head screw driver combined with an adjustable wrench stock of all purpose answers ready for those questions that seem to come every year. Don't forget to store a quantity of Nails, Screws and fasteners of various size and color as the best Hammer still needs a nail to pound to make something. Otherwise all you can do is tear down/beat down/Break down instead of build.
All done?? NOOooooo! Not yet!
Build your Clientele and Contacts! This takes different tools to build those circuits and maintain that transmission of information flowing. This is going to take a different type of tools but building this is very important as well to any growing Business. First you will need to have some Advertising "Brushes" to "Paint" your business with. Small brushes like Business cards well designed work here. Wider brushes would be press releases, Flyers, and developing a social media presence. From there you could look into an "Area Sprayer" to cover larger areas such as a well designed web page, mining your Email accounts, Wrapping your vehicle with contact information and pictures of your presentation then using (judiciously) constant contact to notify clients about your product. So the kind of tools you would use for this part of your Building project would be in the form of Pliers to hold the attention of your clientele while you connect them to your products. You will also need a supply of connectors and a few Splicing tools as well.
So keep in mind when you go out to portray Santa for the Public, you want to build a beautiful modern Home and Office to work from. Try to be a step up from a rustic outhouse lacking running water, electricity and wifi. So pick up that tool box, look inside to see what you might need to add to it and then look at the project you have built with an eye to what and where you can add to make it better.
Finally once you have your own house in order with tight doors and tight roof with a dry basement, You are ready to look around and offer help to others still working on their "Building" and stocking their tool box. This is called Mentoring.
Since my last writing in this thread, I have helped 6 Santas find work in malls, 5 Santas find work in Bass Pro Shops and 1 Santa hook up with a photography studio that does Christmas portrait sessions. Not a one was for "BIG MONEY" but they did pay decently for the amount of effort that would be involved on the part of the performer. All those positions could lead to future employment for those individuals as well.
The economy is in flux and that leads to employers being conservative in what they are willing to pay. In times like this you must be willing to extend yourself when looking for work. Look and think outside the box. Extend yourself and your circle of search when you do look for work.
An exciting project has just started that may bring work to over 100 Texan Santa in 2019. More details may be coming in April 2018 at the ISC (Denver) and Nationwide Santa (Las Vegas) events. Keep your fingers crossed. What does this mean to You, the individual Performing Santa? Not much unless you decide to start hustling. Get out there and make sure people know you are available for Parties, Corporate events. If you are like me and see the world as "What could this lead to?" rather than "I refuse to lower my standards by taking this job!" You might well find you're making some money by getting out there showing people what you can do which leads to more work this season and in future seasons.
Several friends lost their gig making $12,500 (at $25 an hour) only to find entry level gigs that pay $6500 (at $40 an hour) with the possibility of advincing up the ladder in the new company if they prove their worth. Just saying "I am Worth $250 an hour!" does not do it on this kind of playing field. If you are happy with doing 20 visits a year, 30 even, good for you. If you wish to bring the Joy of "Santa" into more homes or Families, then you need to start hustling to find the work and then do the work.
While doing all of that, Look HARD at the people you are hoping to work for! What is their track record? How happy are the people that are working for them? Do they honor their contracts with you? Every time? The word is out on several current employers and though we have had a "Code of Silence" in the past, today that is no longer in play thanks to the prevalent actions of some of those employers. Honesty is not something you can put in the bank or spend but it does reflect on whether you will receive the funds you contracted for if you hold up your end of the contract. Work for some of those that do not honor their commitments and Contracts and you will find yourself with far less cash to spend.
Learn to do Business! Learn what a contract is for before you say "I never use a contract, a hand shake is good enough for me!" In life there are "ups" and "DOWNS" don't let a setback stop you! Go out and build new contacts, new relationships, New Contacts and start building your Career As a Performer NOW! This is what business owners, business people, creative people do in building their trade and clientele. After this season, you will se a whole lot of that happening in the Southern Coast states and Eastern Seaboard. Strong weather has that effect.
No matter what the climate (Business or Weather) those that prepare and build their base well, those people will be in a better position to take advantage of changes in the ongoing season and what happens from there. No one starts a business with a guarantee of success. In fact more new business fails in the first 5 years than succeed. What those new businesses that do succeed have in common is the ability to adjust to the changes in their industry.
Become a person that is self starting! One that is both ethical and honest. One that in 10 years from now people in the business will point at and say "That person is great to work with and gives fair value for his fees. Customer satisfaction is his/her first priority! Because when it is all boiled down, this is a service industry that lives or dies by its service provided. Advancement up the ladder does not always go to the one making claims of high earnings or "Who" he had on his knee. It is done quietly, diligently and consistently visit by visit, customer by customer.
I would claim that my tardiness in posting a blog entry here is because that I've been busy in the workshop, but that would be a stretch. I have been busy, but it hasn't been in the workshop making toys. Instead, it has been a split between my job search, and home restoration work.
The job search doesn't need explaining. The house work does. As I probably mentioned in one or more previous entries, my youngest son finally left the house a couple of months ago (Marine boot camp), and my wife and I have been working to restore his room, his older sister's room (she's been out of the house for four years... but motivation was lacking), and eventually, another bedroom that had been set up as an office.
We have made lots of progress in the past two months, including stripping both bedrooms down to plywood, patching and repainting walls (just about complete on second room now), and soon to put in new flooring (bought and paid for a load of laminate flooring today). We hope to have most of the work complete in the next two weeks, since our son will be coming home on leave after boot in three weeks.
Where does this lead to working in the workshop? Well, the first bedroom mentioned (our daughter's) is the designated guest room. My wife has claimed the second (our son's) as a sewing room [hers!]. This leaves the final bedroom, which currently is full of furniture and stuff that normally would be in the other two rooms. AFTER we rearrange everything, and empty this room out, I will strip it down, refinish and repaint walls, and re-floor as I have done with the others. This then becomes my office... or more particularly, Santa's Workshop. This room isn't on the same deadline as the other two... Mostly likely, won't finish it until Spring, to tell the truth, since we're just about ready to move into the holiday season, and during that time, I know I will be too occupied in other ways. But next year... I hope to have a basic studio ready to go, with backdrop and so forth. Ho ho ho!
Everyone! Is! Picking! On! ME!
Or the subtitle
Everything I write revolves around me!
Caution!! Long post of a blog and if you do not like my writings? Skip over it! Nuff Said on that!
ALright, there was a thread on the SatBobS group that started out with a very valid point about Santas and what they earn with a side comment about self promotion by telling the lay public how much they were paid started by Derek Dugan. Great point Derek! I was in complete agreement with it!
Well that was one point for Derek but the thread soon included people with slightly differing points of view and they were also valid unto the writers. Eventually there comes a point in any thread where a difference of opinion will be expressed in such threads especially when one party presents there point of view and inserts it in response to any and all he may differ with.
It was at this point one such incident happened between an elderly and well written member of the community who has chops going back decades in the education side of the Santa community made first an oblique comment on one of Ed Taylor's statements to which Ed immediately took up the challenge and made the conversation about him for that stretch of the thread.
I have made the effort to copy and save that thread in its entirety as it has a rich amount of opinions from many and I would hate to see a post on one of my groups be thrown away or deleted simply because it had some controversy in it.I also dis like any editing of a post by self deleting a point or series of points which leave a person's responses to those now deleted points look like he is talking to himself. That kind of action still gets you removed and banned from this group and many of the groups I moderate on. Big "no no".
So lets get to the meat of the lesson this thread gives us. We spin the "Wheel of Morality" (animaniacs fan here) and it comes down to this little bon mot.
The world does not revolve around "You".
Take a bucket of water and punch your hand into it making a big splash and the water seems to be quite agitated. Pull your hand out and it quickly returns to a calm state. Select a bigger quantity of water and the area you punch is still agitated but the larger pond is not consistently following. Big Fish+small pond= large splash. Same fish in larger lake? Not so much.
Your opinion is valid unto your self and if you believe your own PR then you are indeed a very large fish in your eyes. Unfortunately you will always run into people that do not agree with your opinion and will have to learn to accept that or ignore those "Nay sayers" in order to continue your "cult of personality" you are trying to sell.
Personally, I have learned you simply can not make everybody happy no matter how hard you try but pissing off a whole lot of folks is a piece of cake! So take this advice with a brick of salt, not everything is about "You".
Instead of trying to couch your presentation featuring you and your opinions, set your message as the focus that you are trying to communicate to others. Some will accept it, others will reject it but you and your opinions will be safely set aside so you will not be offended or hurt emotionally. Make the information the point and the instructor the means of the transmission of that information instead of sharing the light as your personality and "what you do" as the message.
I now return you to your current "tempest in a teapot" for your entertainment pleasure.
And No Ed, this blog is not all about you or picking on you. It has become common enough that many share this particular problem through the decades going back over 20 years in the Santa centric Community in all of its various permutations. Old hat actually but many new Santas and performers simply do not have the perspective of history to follow and feel it does not affect them as it did not happen on their watch.
Seeking recognition is a downward path for a legend who performs his tasks in the veil of night.
Recently, a fellow portrayer of Santa posted an image on Facebook that they constructed to look like a magazine cover with him on it and several story snips like many publications have on their covers. You may have seen it if they are your friend on Facebook. It looks okay. The composition is good, but the rendering when uploading it to Facebook became distorted it and it is quite pixelated when you look at it from a development standpoint.
What got my goat was his choice of accompanied text, “Finally got a little recognition…”. Let me say that his post was all in jest, I am certain. This man is one of the kindest, gentlest, giving souls you will come across. I love him as a brother. Yet his unintended incursion on the spirit of the Claus legend got me more than a little flustered. And I know it would be last thing he would want anyone to get from this posting.
If you are in this to seek recognition, get out. Plain and simple. It’s the last thing that the real Santa Claus would have wanted. It’s the antithesis of St. Nicholas, for whom Santa is mostly based.
More and more, I see the ego of man rearing its ugly head in the Claus community. And this comes from one of the vainest individuals you would ever loath to meet. My mother, rest her soul, would chuckle and get all sorts of entertainment over my time in front of the mirror as a youth. As my hair fell out and turned grey and I stated portraying Santa, it became less of an issue of ego and more of an asset to putting forward the best portrayal I know how. And yet attention to Felix Estridge is the last thing I want. Last year, I was elected as President and Executive Director of the Board for Lone Star Santas Charities, Inc.® I tried to refuse but the Board felt it was best moving forward with the group as the current President & Executive Director was retiring from guiding the organization. I still felt awkward in that it might bring me some kind of recognition that I did not ultimately want. But, for the good of the organization and at their begging, I accepted. When asked for my name after having had news footage or news photos shot of me as Santa, I tell them “Kris Kringle” and wait for the response. I will never give my real name unless I am forced to do so, and, even then, I have been known to refuse. I always tell them that the magic for people remains in the mystery of the legend of Santa Claus. They then understand.
And all who portray him should strive to keep that magic alive.
As I recently defended, I am no one’s arbiter, police, or any authoritarian on portraying Santa. I merely offer this perspective as a personal opinion from simple observation over time. I am less learned than many, many others. I just happen to be passionate about this issue. I will never give up trying to protect the legend.
Do no harm to the legend.
Everyone has an idea what it takes to be Santa. They then go forward to follow that idea into reality. Where the fantasy meets reality is where some problems occur.
No matter how you conduct your Santa performance service, you are conducting one of two different things in the eyes of the IRS. You are either spending your money on an expensive hobby which you are not allowed to write off OR you are operating a business Which has to show a profit 1 out of 3 years or as my accountant says 2 out of 5.
In the eyes of the local city and county tax offices, if you advertise you are operating a business and need proper permits and licenses.
Some think starting an LLC will protect them and their property but as has been shown, that does not exactly work the way some folks think it will. Everything used under the LLC is up for grabs. Vehicle, Equipment down to the lap top and cell phone used in the business is up for grabs when you rely on a LLC to protect you. If your actions go beyond the coverage of a LLC it can be pierced and all your personal assets are then up for grabs as well. In many states personal liability insurance is a better protection for the cost all the way around.
Your presentation will determine your market and your abilities will determine your share of that market. As Santa we are portraying a fictional character the image of which is fixed in much of the public's mind and shown in movies and pictures and books dating back to 1822. Currently for the last 12 years there has been a push to alter that image by including/merging the image of Father Christmas from the "Old World". Nothing wrong with that but you are now competing with an established image that is being exported to those "Old World" countries that are importing the traditional Santa image and the folks at home that want the "Rankin Bass" image.
I have strongly suspected this used as a way to "separate" one presentation from the crowd of "Clones" in order to breakout and win market share based upon a "New and Fresh" look or gimmick such as any new "Bling" that will set your Santa image apart from the crowd. This is the easy path to being different or individual as a performer.
I advocate a better and stronger way to separate yourself from the herd. Be a better performer. Unfortunately that takes study, effort and work on your part over and above putting on a different looking suit or belt or accessory. It takes personal development in order to stand out.as a performer portraying the role of "Santa". You need to actually develop and expand the basic character and bring it to life right in the venue you are performing in be it a corporate party, a mall set or a living room. You have to step into that role when recognized on the street or in a store or at the gas station even if not in the Suit.
How do you do this? By studying the traditions and history of the character. It is all there and several schools can help you with this but essentially it happens when you decide to take this activity seriously, like a business.
Some use this as a path to spread their personal religious beliefs and sense of moral behavior which is not counter to the role we portray. It is when we begin to use the role and our religion and or our political beliefs to beat on others that is not acceptable.
A Santa is a Santa first keeping in mind we are there for the children and keeping the fantasy of the fictional character alive during their short years of believing in that wonderful fantasy.
The message we bring is for all ages but the sector of the public that is our most important demographic is children. if not for them, we would be a footnote and nice story made into movies. Remember that the next time you are tempted to beat on some other "Santa" that does not eet up with your personal expectation of how he should act or look or conduct his business.
Instead of beating on him (or her) for their presentation as a Christmas performer, let this become an open door for you to help another learning how to be better. Make the effort to instill an idea, educate someone that has a poor image in their mind of what we do by educating the people in the public about what it is we do. Make this a better performance and world one person at a time.
In the process you will become Outstanding in how you portray and perform the role of Santa, Mrs Claus, Elf or any of the many various roles that are Christmas Season venues. Strive to be the best and help those you come in contact become better as well. In this fashion you will become an Amazing Santa. A Mentor to others and someone that has made the industry better for it.
May your season be Joyous!
I advise people that work in the entertainment business as performers to learn to adapt to the current Environment. By that I mean you look at the opportunities available to you in your area of operation and then look at how this can be made to work for you. In the previous (rambling) blog on this subject I used my school as an example of how I used this idea when in competition with other schools and education opportunities. Since that is still an experiment I will give another example.
Back in the late 80s I had been a clown for 7 years and felt I knew everything there was to know about this business. (Boy, was I wrong!) An opportunity came to me from a housing developer/builder. They were looking for a Clown Sign waver at several properties for the weekends about 6 hours a day Sat and Sun. This is way back when min wage was far lower than now and so was prices on all manner of consumables like 260Q balloons being less than $3.00 a bag of 144, Gasoline well under $2 a gallon and just about everything else was a lot lower.
The offer was $25 an hour for 12 hours a weekend and the run was for 3 months. The problem was the length of time to collect the balance due and operating costs. My decision was to become an agent of sorts. I would take the regular weekend work sporadic as it was to have cash coming in and I paid friends $15 an hour to dress up and wave the sign. I paid them weekly every Tuesday out of the earnings I made working private party and lived close to the bone for that first month. They were happy to make $180 a weekend and I kept the account until their payroll dept started to really drag out the payment for work performed. I looked at the situation again and decided to farm the job over to a reputable agency I had worked for for 5 years by this time.
This lead to me working for $15 an hour when called upon by the agent but I was paid every Monday like clockwork. Kitty (the agent) had the contract expand to cover as many as 8 different locations every weekend for several years but because she had deeper pockets and more cash flow from other projects she could keep those contracts satisfied and make money. I also worked other venues making more than the basic $15 an hour each weekend over this time but covered the gig for Kitty when she needed another body.
So instead of trying to keep the contract I choose to pass it on to a friend in the business who expanded the venue making work for several other friends, improved my position with in the agency when the choice came up for who was provided for higher paying jobs and maintained a good relationship with the developer to this day.
I looked over the options available, weighed the Pros and Cons of each and decided the path that held the best benefit to me for the next 30 years.
Again as a clown, I had a Major competitor that was going head to head with me over all the work in the area! It seemed to always come down to one or the other of us would win the contract no matter from where it came.
I had several options.
I could undercut her price and make less money but land more jobs. In essence work more to make the same.
I could demand the agents use only me and that would likely end my relationship with those agencies and cut of those streams of income.
I could meet with her (Curly the Clown) and see if we could not work something out between us.
That turned out to be another 30+ year good choice. My friend Becky (Curly the Clown) and I worked many venues together as agencies realized we were a good team. We networked together adding other friends from the business as time went by.This increased the earnings for both of us in part because we could command more money through the various agencies and when one or the other had a gig on their own we worked together to fill the job.
I became a Santa in 1980 simply because it is a slow time for Clowns and Magicians and the agent I was working for under a very strong "Non-competition" contract looked at me and said
"You're a big guy! Here put this suit on!" and I became Santa. No training, no knowledge of the role other than the Ranking Bass television movies. To say the least I was most likely the worst Santa you could ask for but that was my start. My first 15 years of being Santa as a designer beard saw me improve in appearance, knowledge and fees I could command from the agencies that asked for my services. I might have associated with as many as 8 other Santas during that time but only in passing when we bumped into each other in the various agency offices.They were not very social and I did not think about that aspect in regards to this branch of entertainment.
Then I received a call from a good friend and agent in 95 telling me about a group of Santas that actually got together off season in January to share stories of visits and network together. Only thing is,they were all real beard performers. I said, "Gina, I don't have a beard!" to which she told me "Grow one!"
Well in 95 I started growing my beard and was a presentable "M on 34th ST." Santa that first year. Because I was RBS, the agencies paid e more. Because I was exposed to the experiences of other Santas my learning curve went vertical. I made many relationships that I network with to this day and made several very good friends that to this day remain close in spirit if not in distance. Tim Connaghan, John Dore, Steve Eastis, Stephen Arnold, Bob McMasters, Ron Vedder, Bo Turner, Jonathan Rich,Tom Cortemeglia, Robert Tatangelo, Ron Breach, Don White, Spangle the Clown, Bob Bulick, Thomas Carmody, Robert Baxt, Keith Alton, J. Paul Raines, Morgan Putnam Robert Seutter, Ed Taylor, Larry Shaw, John Breen. John Davis Williams and many many more too numerous to list have become in person, real life friends over the course of the last 24 years since I became involved with large social groups formed around Santas now politically correctly called Christmas season workers/performers. All mentioned and not mentioned are friends that stay in touch across the country and then there are the people I have only met through social media. Such as Robin Black, Ian Loxton and Carlo Clemm to name just a few.
Social Media or real life, all have made a positive impression on me in my life and not only enriched my life but remain friends to today.
Just an example of how networking and sharing with others can make a big difference in your business and life. Of how you approach business and life in your choices canmake you not only far better off financially but richer in personal relations.
The most recent change in how Bass Pro Shops handle their Christmas seasonal business has once again inspired people to grab a handy soap box and pontificate upon how "They" would prefer the Bass Pro Shop Corporation to do business the way "They" would prefer since the "Bone head Greedy new guys in charge" obviously do not know what they are doing. Besides it affected "My" pocket book! "This will come back to hurt their business!" and often seen "It is all the fault of (someone that has absolutely no fault or power in the business decision currently happening) and that person should be eliminated!" (That last is one of my personal favorites! I spend many a happy hour trying to figure out how anyone outside of the top corporate structure has any power to sway managed to effect such a change.) But then I am easily amused. The path to success is not to bemoan the loss of the past opportunities. It is in looking and examining the present and all it entails to find a situation that might help you achieve that success once again in a different way.
To all that this event and others that have happened in the past and for those who will be affected adversely in the near future when other changes in the way the people that hire us to portray the role of "Santa Claus" go into effect, You have my heartfelt condolences. That and $12 will buy you a large coffee at Starbucks. Maybe. The point is the ONLY constant in any field of business is CHANGE. Change is constant and comes in many small and occasionally large ways every day. There is one aspect to this process that every individual has a great deal of power and control over this situation and that is in how you deal with it. That lesson can be used in every part of your life! I certainly used that attitude in my recent battle with Cancer and also in how I operate my personal business which is the "Santa and the Business of being Santa" school.
Faced with no fewer than 30 new Schools, Symposiums, Round Tables, Colleges, Conservatories and Universities (opened since Feb.2014 when my school popped into existence) chose to call a Spade a Spade when describing my educational effort. It is a technical School for people that wish to learn the basic issues, a lot of the intermediate concepts and a few of the advanced ideas involved in this business of being a professional Independent Contractor Entertainer from one that has been exactly that for 39 years as of 2017. That has proven to be a good way to advertise what I actually have to offer but a poor example to "sell" my school as a lot of people prefer to be made "Amazing", "Outstanding", "Extraordinary" or any of the other "buzzword" claims you usually hear on "Ronco" television ads for "Turnip Twaddlers". The reason for this is simple. No one can do this except the person that is taking the class. It does not matter where or from who you get your information from as long as it is factual and up to date, the only person that can make you any of those titles is (look in the mirror) You!. Since I refuse to go down the same path as all my competitors in the "Santa/Christmas Entertainer/Mrs. Claus/Seasonal Worker/Independent Contractor Entertainer" educational field of technical school education, I looked for other ways to stand out (sometimes in the rain) from the crowd as something different in how it operates and what it teaches.
This is how I have broken new ground in the area of "Santa Schools". I decided to write a book that would cover the spectrum of what we would run up against when starting out in this field of work that covers the first 3 years rather well. Actually I wanted to do an updated "Big Book of Santa" like Victor Nevada did up in Canada which he finished shortly before his death. I very nearly joined him by the time I finished the third volume of the Textbooks used in the school. (I think it may have something to do with writing a book over 575 pages or a set of same at 600 pages.) Well with the updated and expanded editions of the three volume set now out, (and available through Amazon and quality book vendors near you on the internet) I have brought that to the community while managing to avoid the dying part for now.
The second way I have gone and done something very different is I took steps to make sure my school would last beyond my (then best medical advice and estimate) expiration date. That date is currently back in the "Unknown" box but the steps were taken and remain in place.
Basically I franchised my school to others in vastly different areas across the US and Canada. No other school has tried this experiment and this is the first year of the franchise being offered. In simple terms I made an offer that the very qualified individuals I offered it to they simply could not refuse on financial terms. First year free! Yup the franchise in 2017 for those that take it get the ability to kick the tires and run the shop for free this year. After that, if they decide to continue the agreement, they then will have to make a franchise royalty payment on December 30 of each following year they decide to run the school again. They get the printing at cost for the textbooks used in their classes, and they have a proven curriculum they can follow. Oh, if you are interested in the details, I am currently looking for instructors in the UK, Australia, Europe and anywhere else that imports or uses the Character "Santa Claus". Sorry this is not a school on how to be "Father Christmas" or any other permutation of St. Nicholas. He is a distinctly different kind of portrayal and the focus of this school is on being "Santa" in the country of the origin of the character and those countries that currently import him.
The concept of a Technical school teaching to a focused industry bringing information to the students from Professionals experienced in the field of study is nothing new. Nor is that concept restricted to the realm of performers. It is an interesting exercise in learning just how much experience on the part of the instructor teaching the class is involved. In several cases this issue is side stepped by the use of hiring or otherwise gaining the services of someone that does hold the required level of experience applicable to the study of the subject involved. That too has been going on for quite some time back in the southeast portion of the US and now on Video instruction. In Either case, as long as the students receive fair value and actually benefit from the information passed along, it is a good way to learn.
The concept of a "Traveling" school is also nothing new. Consider the movie "The Music Man" and you see both the benefits and the possible pitfalls. Tim Connaghan's IUSC was avery innovative and surprising method of bringing a quality and quantity of information and education to our community Besides his and my own offering there are or were at least 4 other such schools that were in operation and or continue. Look for Susen Mesco to bring her teachings on the road in 2018. The single one thing that truly set SatBobS apart from all other school up until this year was the policy over the previous 4 years of operation no class booked was ever cancelled due to lack of attendance being the ONLY school that would teach classes of One (1). Sadly due to the shift of operation with the franchised Instructors, that particular part of the class operation has been removed for the current year.
When starting the school I looked hard at what was currently offered back in 2014. One day workshops were to limiting in duration to cover the amount of material I wished to present and so I chose to bring out a 2 day class which eventually grew to include 16 hours of interactive lecture. The textbooks were a work in progress during this time and so the price of the class reflected that as well. LAst year I capped the price of the school at $250 per full student There is also a "Sponsored" student option where the sponsored student shares the textbook of the Sponsoring student. This has been popular with Married couples. Unless or until another Textbook becomes published that is where the price of the SatBobS School will remain for the foreseeable future.
January of 2018 it is my (hopeful) intention to have each announce their schedule of classes and starting in February we would begin teaching classes at the rate of 1 class a month if there is a response from the market. Each instructor will be traveling in his or her territory so that will maintain the classification of "traveling" school but the volume of classes will increase from 9 a year when I was the only instructor to a maximum of 45 classes happening some where near your area during the February through October school season. As I said there are three textbooks included in the full tuition price.
The first book, Santa And The Business Of Being Santa, focuses on the business end of things, covering things like what separates a hobbyist from a professional Santa, being a performer and a Santa, negotiating contracts, pricing your services, ethics, taxes, and a lot more. The second book in the series, The Nuts And Bolts Of Being Santa, talks about things like Santa schools, companies that hire Santas, costumes, beards and wigs, and the people and services that support us in doing this job . Book 3, Santa And The Performing Santa, is filled with great information including the lyrics to Christmas songs, magic tricks, props, Santa’s elves, story telling and a lot more. Over 85 different chapters that are included covering the industry we work in.
So included in the tuition are the three textbooks, 16 hours of interactive lecture, a diploma, and 12 months of question answering "mentoring" for the one price. There are several other benefits attached to the school but suffice to say for the price, you will be hard pressed to find an offering equal to this school. Yes there are some schools that offer more at a higher price. There are also schools that offer less at a comperable price. You pays your money and takes your chances.
Another week goes by, and we are suddenly rushing toward the Christmas season.
At the request of my mentor, Santa Ron Campbell, I generated a PowerPoint slide for him to use in a presentation he is giving this Saturday (7-29) at the 10th Annual Santa Business Round Table, in Highpoint, NC, showing the importance of having a Santa Claus website. Of course, I used screenshots from my own website as an example, and I must admit that I did have Ron's input when I put that site together. It took me a couple of tries to get the slide that Ron wanted, but I was happy to do it.
This past Monday afternoon, Ron called me and suggested that I put together a brochure to offer to help other Santas in the area put together a good website. Most of the gentlemen performing as Santa in this area don't have websites, or if they do, they are minimal... three or four pages at most. My site runs about 20 pages, with room for expansion. I admit that I can't compete with Santa Ed Taylor for coming up with a top notch web site, but I don't plan to charge a bunch of money either.
Having agreed to do this, I quickly edited some of my work generated while making the PowerPoint slide for Ron. I thought I was good to go, but then he comes back Tuesday evening and "suggests" that I replace the picture on my entry page with a video. Ho ho ho... wasn't that a whirl wind of excitement.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I'm in the middle of refurbishing several bedrooms in our house. I had JUST finished paining the walls in the first room (a dark green), and decided to use this space to record the video. I assembled various pieces of easily portable furniture and other props, and I and Mrs. Merry Lou Claus (Lou Shelton, my partner) practiced and recorded a minute and a half of video in an hour on Thursday afternoon. In the evening, I trimmed the ends of the file, added some background music, and published it to YouTube so I could display it on my website and on GigSalad.
Tomorrow (Saturday, 7-29) is the Santa Round Table, and I expect to be getting up and hitting the road by 6:00 a.m. (it is an hour and a half drive to Highpoint, and the day starts at 8:00). I will have a folder full of brochures (OK, 8 ½” x 11” double sided sheets) advertising website services, a box of business cards (thank you Vista Print!), and the cheerful demeanor of a newly minted Santa Claus.
Somehow, this post was never published when I entered it a week or so ago. The form displayed it when I got ready to enter another post. I will just push this out, and go on to write my new mutterings.
This Summer, my son moved out of the house, finally taking the plunge and joining the marines. He's about half way through boot now, and I expect to be attending his graduation down at Paris Island in a little over a month. His older sister moved out a number of years ago, and is currently starting her final year at college. What this means is my wife and I are now empty nesters.
One would think that this is a great thing. In a way, it is. However, with the empty nest comes a number of challenges. Chores that were delegated to a teenager are now my responsibility. And while I don't mind doing the things that my son was tasked with doing, it takes time and energy that are in short supply while nearing 60, whereas in my 40's, those things weren't as physically demanding. Oh well, such is life.
The point of this post, besides reminiscing about growing older, is that I am now facing a daunting project of converting our home... a 5 bedroom monstrosity that previously housed two kids, into something better suited for an older couple. I've concluded that it would be financially better to hang on to the place for at least another 8 - 10 years, and need to make better use of the space. After discussing it with the Mrs., I now know what to do.
We have always reserved one of the bedrooms as a guest room. This will remain the same, although it will be kids as our primary visitor rather than parents. Another bedroom becomes Santa's workshop. Mom claimed both of the other rooms, one as an office, and another as a sewing room.
Here we are in the early part of July. The year is barely half over, and I am already getting requests for Santa gigs for the coming holiday season.
For those of you who have been Santa Claus for some time, early bookings may not be anything out of the ordinary. However, from my study of the industry, a newly minted Santa, which pretty much describes me, can best expect to get the bulk of his work from other Santas who are overbooked. This is what I gleaned from this and other web sites, and it is what I read direct from other gentlemen at the two Santa groups I attend. With that in mind, I try to network with other Santas as much as i can, in the hopes that I can pick up on some of their leftovers.
And yet... through the good graces of Santa Ron Campbell, my mentor, I fully expect to have a running start on other gigs. At his insistence, I set up a GigSalad account, which I would probably have done eventually anyway, but he wanted me to do it right now (this is back in April). I have so far gotten two inquiries on the account, and I don't even have all the recommendations that an established Santa Claus would expect to have. I have a third request through my website, probably due to a business card I handed out while talking with someone. There is a forth gig that Santa Ron has mentioned that he expects I can pick up. And this is before the middle of July!
This tells me that I need to aim high. I've already got a basic Santa Claus outfit, along with upgraded boots, belt, bells, and key, but I still have to work on the nice to have things. My wife will be sewing me several vests, and I just order 3 sets of Christmas style buttons to complete these. While we're at it, I will probably make sure we make some extra long Santa caps to replace the ones shipped with the Santa Suit. In addition, every Santa Claus needs a Toy Bag, so I will want to put one of these together. We have about 6 yards of material to do all this, 4 yards in a red fabric with gold tree pattern, and 2 yards of plain red fabric. If we need more, Jo-Anne's is just a few miles down the road.
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