Seasonal Employment at the Mall: Do You Have What It Takes To Be Santa?

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To play the role of the big man like a pro, you should of course have a jolly belly, yet you must be in good physical condition in order to pick up dozens of children and handle ten-hour shifts while wearing too much heavy clothing under bright lights. You’ve also gotta have the beard—one that’s not only carefully groomed daily, but professionally bleached to the perfect shade of snowy white. It also helps if you’re good with kids.

A fun Boston Globe story goes behind the red robe with an enlightening look at the working life of one of the Santas employed by Noerr Programs, a company that only recruits naturally bearded Kris Kringles, as the Santa application states.

What are the other requirements beside the beard? Noerr actually has 10-point Claus checklist that stipulate, for example, that Santas must always act professionally and stay in character, even during work breaks. So if you see a still-costumed Santa puffing a cigarette or arguing with his wife on his cell phone, that’s a Santa who will probably get coal in his stocking—and who would probably be fired if his boss hears about it.

As for getting that perfect Santa look, the secret isn’t fairy dust from North Pole but a product called Shimmer Lights. It’s a conditioning shampoo that chases away shades of yellow and brightens up white or gray hair and really makes it pop. Here’s how Noerr’s official recommendation reads:

“Every Santa has an obligation to manicure his beard daily and have it professionally bleached. Santa himself recommends ‘Shimmer Light’ every other day to maintain that snowy white appearance.”

Also helpful: keeping plenty of hand sanitizer nearby. A sick Santa can ruin Christmas for everybody. Santa’s elves not only invite kids to partake of the sanitizer bounty, but Santa himself changes his white gloves several times in the course of a typical shift.

Santa must also be ready to handle tough questions from children and adults alike, some of whom mention family and career problems. When the Christmas wishes get serious—like a kid wanting a job for her dad—the Santa featured in the story has a ready response:

“I tell them I’ll certainly pray for them.”