Holiday season

How Professional Santas Can Earn Thousands of Dollars This Holiday Season

Jorge Casanova is a retired plumber who has been working as a professional Santa Claus for about seven years. In the months leading up to Christmas, you can see Casanova greeting park-goers and taking photos with families at Santa’s Enchanted Forest, a vacation amusement park in Hialeah, Florida, he recently told LinkedIn.

Every July, Casanova grows out his beard, and in August, he bleaches his eyebrows, beard, and hair a silvery white to match Santa’s. He’s also starting to be more relaxed about his diet because, as Casanova said on LinkedIn, “nobody likes a skinny Santa.”

Being Santa Claus “is a reward in itself”, according to Casanova. But it’s also a pretty lucrative gig, according to a new LinkedIn report on professional Santas.

The economics of being Santa Claus

Fifty-five percent of professional Santa Clauses on LinkedIn don their red suits and spread Christmas cheer as a full-time job, according to the platform’s report.

“Christmas-themed events in July and patient visits to hospitals, among other concerts.

Those who work part-time as Santa during the holidays are mostly small business owners, according to LinkedIn.

And while legends claim Saint Nick is almost 2,000 years old, most Santas (39.14%) are baby boomers, which LinkedIn identifies as those born between 1946 and 1964. About 27% of Santas are of millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, followed by Gen Xers (about 19%), born between 1965 and 1980, according to the report.

The start-up costs to become Santa Claus are higher than you might expect.

Rick Rosenthal, a professional Santa Claus in Atlanta, told CNBC Make It in 2018 that a high-quality Santa costume costs between $800 and $1,200.

Santas have to buy other accessories, including glasses, boots, a leather belt and a buckle, Rosenthal said, which is at least $250 to $400. There are also other recurring expenses, like dry cleaning ($50 to $150 per visit) and personal grooming, like beard bleaching — these can cost around $100 to $200 each season.

During the holiday season, which lasts from late November to December 25, a professional Santa can expect to earn around $5,000 to $8,000, Rosenthal told CNBC Make It. Santas with more experience can make $15,000 or $20,000, according to Rosenthal, but “it’s hard to top that.”

Salaries also depend on where and how long Santa grants his holiday wishes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most “lucrative” Santa Claus jobs come from working with shopping malls and photography businesses, where you can earn up to $20,000 in a single holiday season.

More than a red suit

It takes specific skills to be a successful Santa Claus. Key skills needed, according to LinkedIn, include customer service, social media and public speaking. Having experience in event management and planning can also help you land a job as a Santa Claus, the report notes.

Really, “it’s not the costume, it’s what you do in the costume,” Casanova told LinkedIn. “We may be imposters, but I like to think we all have this need to spread Christmas cheer and we love kids.”

Patience and a positive attitude are other essential skills, according to Casanova. “The little kid in front of me at that moment is the most important thing in the world, no matter how long the line is,” he said.

Playing Santa Claus in a pandemic

Demand for Kris Kringle’s appearances at holiday gatherings began to increase before omicron arrived.

Allen says event planners are eager to make up for lost time during the pandemic. Requests for its Santas have more than doubled compared to previous years. “It’s been a crazy year,” he said. “We usually sell out after Thanksgiving, but we’ve already booked all of our weekend slots before that.”

Yet Covid looms large. Allen estimates his company has 10% fewer Santas available for hire this year as many pulled out of the season due to coronavirus fears. Then, over the past few weeks, Allen says he’s lost other Santas to the virus — and elves, along with other Santa’s helpers, are more hesitant to work at in-person events, especially in virus hotspots like New York.

Despite this, Allen says the demand for Santas hasn’t slowed. “Dozens if not hundreds of people continue to contact us every day asking for visits,” he says. “People are already calling us to book their Santa for 2022.”

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