Monthly Archives: December 2015

How To Avoid Hiring a Bad Santa

The other day I was talking to two of my coworkers and we were comparing stories about hiring bad Santas during the holidays. We each had a story about hiring a Santa that disappointed the kids or was borderline inappropriate. Think Bad Santa the movie, but only half as bad as Billy Bob Thornton’s character. We had a good laugh, but it got me thinking, there is a real strategy behind how I hire Santa.

I hire Santa every year for the annual Crafts for Christmas craft fair over Thanksgiving weekend. I work with the best Santa, but that hasn’t always been the case. The funniest aspect of hiring Santa is how many cold call sales pitches you get from people wanting to be Santa. I’ve had people drop by my office, try to sneak in, mail me cards constantly, and email me until I block them. It feels a little creepy to think you are being stalked by Santa, but I just think of it as part of my annual holiday season traditions.

During the holiday season the good Santas are very busy. Now that the economy has improved there are a lot of companies bringing back Christmas parties and a lot of people having holiday parties at home. Everyone wants to experience the magic of Christmas, so there is a lot of demand for Santa. Book in advance and follow these tips and you will avoid hiring a Bad Santa.

Here are my tips to avoid hiring a bad Santa:

Santa Fashion
Request a picture of the applicant in his Santa suit. Look at the picture and see if the suit looks high quality and photographs well. Is this the type of Santa you would like to hire? Everyone has preferences when it comes to Santa, so ask for a picture so you can see if applicant Santa’s fashion matches your ideals.

Interview Santa
It is always a good idea to ask applicant Santa some questions about his experience and passion for the job. The best Santas will tell you they don’t play Santa, they are Santa. It is important because they stay in character. It is also important to consider applicant Santa’s personality and appeal. Does he look legitimate? Does he have charisma? Do you think children would like to interact with him? Do you think adults would like to interact with him? These are all important assessments when hiring Santa. If he seems creepy in any way or you sense any red flags, it is a deal breaker!

Santa Strategy
Ask applicant Santa to tell you about some experiences they’ve had as Santa. The good Santas will have stories about happy and sad children, you know, the kids crying their eyes out sitting on Santa’s lap. Ask how applicant Santa interacts with kids. I always ask how they handle kids asking for expensive items. At my event a few weeks ago an 8-year-old asked for a very expensive gift. Santa responded perfectly by telling her he would try, but he never promised. He also didn’t rush the child and had a nice conversation letting her know that Santa would bring her something for being good. The child’s mother wrote us a letter thanking us because she couldn’t afford the expensive gift. She has been suffering financially. She said last year a bad Santa told her child he would bring the expensive gift and it was really hurtful to the child Christmas morning. Good Santas are delicate when it comes to dancing around requests.


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Professionalism & Background Checks
Get a National Background Check done each year. I’m lucky because the Santa I hire regularly is also the Santa for the FBI Christmas party. He can pass one heck of a background check. Background checks are important because they help you ensure the kids are protected and safe. A professional Santa will also have insurance to limit your liability.

Show Me the Money
Always find out how much Santa charges. If you are hiring Santa for a long period of time don’t be afraid to ask if there is a discount. Make sure to ask if Santa does any other type of performances. Does he sing? Tell stories? Read letters? Applicant Santa should be a performer. Also ask how long the performances last or if there is a limit to how many hours Santa works. Are you the only client scheduled the day of your event or are their schedule conflicts? What if applicant Santa needs to stay over the contracted time? What is the charge for applicant Santa? Try to determine if the applicant seems easy going and flexible. Those skills are important for Santa.

Referrals Referrals Referrals
Ask for 3 references. If applicant Santa can’t provide at least 3 references he isn’t for you! Call the 3 references and ask for referrals about their experience with applicant Santa. If they aren’t practically jumping through the phone to tell you how great applicant Santa is, he may not be that great. I called one reference and she went on and on about how great the applicant was. She was crazy about him! In fact, all of the good Santa applicants I’ve worked with had ecstatic referrals. If applicant Santa is a good Santa there will be fantastic referrals.

Book Early
Every year right after Thanksgiving there is a mad rush for families to visit Santa. Make sure you hire applicant Santa before someone else snatches him up. If you can start the hiring process in January or February, that is outstanding, at the latest September.

Visiting Santa is a wonderful family tradition, hopefully these tips will help you hire good applicant Santa and avoid Bad Santa.

Have you had a memorable experience hiring Santa? Share your story in the comments.

One Shot at Integrity

Merriam-Webster IntegrityI have a confession to make… I’m a reality show junkie. I can’t help it. I am addicted. I admit I watch some of the dumbest shows on TV, and I enjoy them! My favorite part of watching reality TV is finding that small morsel of valuable content. The life lesson, the ethical dilemma, the cultural significance, the hidden leadership and management skills are what I’m hunting for when I watch reality TV. It is like “Where’s Waldo?” but instead it is “Where is the hidden lesson?” It is amazing what you find sometimes under the surface when watching these shows, which is why I’m a fan of several shows on Bravo TV and E! Television.

One of my newest guilty pleasures is watching Below Deck on Bravo TV. Right before finals last winter, they had an episode marathon. I needed some downtime and a pick me up, so I watched a whole day of the show. I love boating so I found myself captivated by the boat and crew. I also found so many delicious morsels of content that I was then hooked.

Eros - Below Deck Yacht

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The leader on Below Deck is Captain Lee. He is an old school, call it how you see it, pull no punches kind of guy. Service is the number one priority on his yacht, and if you screw up he isn’t shy about calling you out. He also has strong leadership skills and builds a great crew culture during the season. He has integrity and leads by example. Captain Lee is a great character! He always has the best comments and assessments of situations. His advice is right on target. He is so eloquent with his words of wisdom that fans have gone to the internet to document his comments as Captain Lee-isms.

Check out this hilarious Below Deck promo video!

This week I finished watching the most recent season and last night I watched Part 2 of the Reunion Special. Captain Lee shared one of the best life lessons ever during the show. He said “You have only one shot at integrity.” Isn’t that the truth!?! Think of how many people are missing this basic concept in life. Integrity and trust go hand-in-hand. It is all about being honest and fair. I’ve been reflecting on his message a lot today and how it relates to being a professional.

If you don’t act honestly or fairly you can damage your reputation and not get a second chance. Once you make an impression it can stick. When it comes to business deals and relationships there is a lot of value in your integrity. It is incredibly important. Your relationships can often make or break you in business, especially in the special event production industry. No one wants to work with someone they can’t trust that doesn’t have integrity. You either have it, or you don’t.

So there you go. I may be addicted to reality TV shows, but at least I can find the life lessons buried in the fluff.

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Best Holiday Events to Attend: Sparks Edition


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The holidays are a magical time of year. There are so many traditions and more special events to attend than one can put on the calendar. To make the most of your family time this holiday season, don’t miss these three special events. They all offer family fun at an affordable price. Enjoy the season!


Sparks 29th Annual Hometowne Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 5, 2015 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
This year the theme of the parade is “All Aboard The Hometowne Express!” and you should come down to Sparks to see one of the best holiday parades in the great State of Nevada. The traditional Christmas parade will feature a train theme this year. Enjoy entertainment, photos with Santa, and arts and crafts. Don’t forget to bring a toy for the annual Toys-For-Tots toy drive.
Cost: FREE
Parking: Surface lots around the parade route, in the parking garage by the theater or the garage on C Street.
Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade Facebook Page


39 North Pole Village – New Event!
Friday, December 11, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday, December 12, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The Nugget Casino Resort and 39 North Downtown are partnering to bring you this new event that will turn downtown Sparks into a holiday winter wonderland. The event will feature thousands of sparkling lights, holiday shopping booths for unique gifts, great food, family fun and holiday cheer. Santa will be there to read special letters and take requests. Stop by the Hot Chocolate Holiday Train and take in a special showing of “The Polar Express” in the Amphitheater. This is an inaugural event that is sure to become a new holiday tradition for families in northern Nevada.
Cost: FREE (Christmas light donations are appreciated)
Parking: Surface lots around the event, in the parking garage on C Street, or in the Nugget parking garage.
39 North Pole Village Facebook Page


The Nutcracker
Friday, December 18 – Wednesday, December 23
Reno Dance Company’s 14th annual Nutcracker appearance will be held in the Celebrity Showroom at the Nugget Casino Resort. The Nutcracker ballet is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman, and is always popular during the holiday season. The story takes place on Christmas Eve and has become a special tradition for many families that take in the show each year the week before Christmas. Proceeds from the show benefit Reno Dance Company.
Cost: Tickets are $26.95 for regular seating. $21.95 for seniors, and $19.95 for children under 12. VIP booth seating is available for $36.95 per ticket. Click here for show times, ticket purchases and additional ticket information.
Parking: Nugget Casino Resort parking garage or surrounding parking lots.

It truly is the most wonderful time of year. Enjoying time with family and friends is important, so please share this information with your loved ones. We hope to see you at all of these great events in Sparks!

Do you have a tradition or favorite special event you attend during the holiday season? Please share your traditions by posting a comment.

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