How to be a good mall Santa

By Aaron Crowe for AOL Find a Job

Santa Claus arrives at malls around the globe this week, so I thought I'd give the professional stand-ins for the real Santa some advice on how to be the best mall Santa around.

It has been years since I put on a red Santa suit, stuffed a few pillows under it, and wore a scratchy fake beard and hat, but I remember the part-time job like it was last Christmas. The salary was a bit more than minimum wage, but the memories are priceless.

Here are a few things to remember if you're working as a mall Santa this year:

  • Be jolly. No one wants an upset Santa, so smile often and say ho ho ho to everyone you see. Always be in character, even when walking from a lobby door to Santa's chair. Remember, you're representing Santa, so do it with pride.

  • Learn a few details about Santa before you start. Know the names of his reindeer. One girl asked me to recite them, and heroically I recalled them all.

  • Don't promise anything. Say you'll see what you can do and that you'll be watching them to see if they're a good boy or girl. No parent wants to hear from their child that Santa promised them the pony they asked for. I remember one child asking me for a huge dollhouse, and I happened to glance up at the parent, who nodded yes, so I told the girl she'd get it if she was good. Other than that, I didn't make any promises.

  • Take plenty of breaks. Demand it from your employer. It's a tougher job than it looks to hoist children on your lap for hours, talk through a beard they're trying to pull off of your face, all while wearing warm clothes indoors. You'll sweat, your voice will get hoarse and you'll need plenty of water breaks.

  • Have an extra pair of Santa pants waiting in case some child wets on your lap. It didn't happen to me, but I heard about it from other Santas.

  • If some little girl comes running to you all the way from across the mall, yelling "Santa, Santa" and waving her Christmas wish list in her hand and then breathlessly reading it to you before giving it to you to keep, don't lose it. I know I put it someplace safe, and hope every year that it will turn up.

Next:Confessions of a Mall Santa >>

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