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!