Make money as every child’s hero – Santa Claus! Department stores and party organisers around the country are on the look-out right now for kindly gentlemen to be Santa and make a few children’s Christmas this year.
Many also need elves and women to play Mrs Claus to help Santa or to entertain children queuing up. Recruitment has already begun, so find out how you can make money from the festive season with this guide.
- What’s involved?
- How do you do it?
- Necessary skills
- Getting an outfit
- How much can you make?
- Find other seasonal positions
Santas and elves are in demand from early November until Christmas Day (and occasionally beyond) to entertain children and adults at parties, department stores, shopping centres and even nightclubs.
You need to be available during the day for shop work or in the evening for parties and nightclubs. It particularly suits actors and performers, especially those with specialist skills such as magic, unicycling and balloon modelling, but if you just have an outgoing nature and a good way with kids that can be enough.
It’s not just a job for the men either. Elves are in high demand and are generally women. Most of the work is entertaining queues of children in shops or outside entertainment venues. Elves tend to be children’s performers so it helps to have entertainment skills or previous entertainment experience but it’s not absolutely essential.
There are two main ways of getting this work:
- Through an agency like The Ministry of Fun
- Through classified ads found in The Stage, Job is Job, Gumtree, Indeed and the local press.
One of the main Santa agencies is The Ministry of Fun based in South London. It places Santas and elves across the country for all kinds of jobs.
The agency uses its younger Santas for nightclub bookings where he turns up at midnight and throws gifts for the guests. The younger ones are also used for jobs where Santa is needed to be on a bicycle or unicycle or to walk about a shopping centre all day. The older ones tend to do the photoshoots or the department store grottos where they can mostly sit down.
The Ministry of Fun provides outfits for its Santas and elves, but some of its people have their own kit. These performers also get work privately themselves through word-of-mouth or by answering ads.
Santa training school
Yes you read it right, there is such a thing as Santa training school where wannabe Santas are put through their paces in all things festive. The Ministry of Fun runs a Santa training school every year – contact them today for 2014 dates.
If you’re interested in attending a Santa training course but live in the north of England or southern Scotland, give Stuart Thompson’s Santa School. At the school ‘students’ are taught the history of Santa as well as voice, costume and make-up training. On completion of the class, trainee Santas receive a certificate of competence and may well find work through Stuart’s company.
Agencies are looking for men with performing skills, good voices, the right look (ideally your own white hair and beard and a large tummy!) and a kindly way with children. On the whole they go for older men (mainly because they’re more likely to look the part) but younger men are also in demand, particularly for work in nightclubs, walkabout jobs in shopping centres and speciality acts such as unicycling Santas.
Get in touch with the agencies by phone or email and they’ll set up an interview. If you have photos of yourself in costume, that will help your application. Some also ask for photos of you without your costume so they can see what you normally look like!
They may want to see evidence of acting or performing skills on your CV or at least evidence of experience of entertainment work (even if it is amateur dramatics!). For help with writing a killer CV check out our essential article here.
You’ll need to be available for work during the day and possibly in the evening for parties and nightclubs. If you have extra skills such as juggling, unicycling, singing etc then that can help you get more work and more money.
Before you get any work you’ll need to get a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check done. The DBS check lasts for three years and is essential to have if you’re working with children or vulnerable people.
Again, it’s a good idea to join agencies and check the ads to give you the maximum exposure to work. Contact the agencies and take photos and a CV to your interview.
Agencies usually look for petite women with performing skills to be elves, although some are boys or young men. Some elves only need to look the part and interact well with the public – particularly children – but the majority need to have entertaining skills such as magic, balloon modelling and face painting. If you already work as a children’s entertainer then it should be easy to get work as an elf.
Some agencies will give you an outfit to wear while you’re acting as Santa or an elf, but if you aren’t lucky enough to have this provided for you, we recommend you think carefully about what you buy! If you’re serious about this as a job, consider your outfit an investment, as along with your acting skills, this is what will convince children you are the real thing.
Some fancy-dress companies stock Santa costumes that cost over £300! But unless you’re really serious about being a Santa and are willing to spend that much, we suggest you take a look below at some other good alternatives.
One of the best value Santa outfits we’ve found is from Angels Fancy Dress and includes a pullover jacket, trousers, hat, belt, boot tops, beard and wig for £38.99!
Alternatively, if you fancy a more traditional costume and don’t mind splashing out, try Delights.co.uk for a great outfit for £138.99. It comes with a long hooded jacket, trousers, belt and boot tops. So additionally, you’ll need a wig and beard.
Check the long wig and realistic-looking beard from Angels Fancy Dress for £22.99 or the cheaper wig and beard set from AbFab for £17.09.
Most costumes come with boots tops which slip over your own shoes to make them look like boots! But if you’d rather wear some actual boots then check the ones out at Jokers’ Masquerade for £45.49. Alternatively, simple black boots will work.
It’s the little extras that will really add to your outfit and make you look more authentic, so if you don’t have your own already, why not add some little spectacles. You can a pair of half-moon ones for just £1.38 at Party Packs.
Of course, if you want to bag a bargain and have the time to search, don’t forget eBay for all things costume. There’s always a massive choice and you can pick up things that aren’t available in the UK. For all you skinny Santas out there you can fake the bulge with padding for under £25.99 on eBay.
The choice of costumes for elves is a lot smaller than for Santas but they vary a bit more and you can have more fun putting them together!
One of the best is from Jokers’ Masquerade and includes a red and green dress, matching hat and oversized belt for £25.99. They also do some brilliant pixie shoes in red and green for just £6.49.
Jazz your costume up with stripy tights, for example they sell red and white ones for £5.99. Unless you’re making an order of more than one item, it’s not really worth paying the delivery charge for one pair of tights. So keep an eye on stores like Primark, Peacocks and your local fancy dress and party shops.
It varies a lot depending on where in the country the job is, what’s involved, how many hours you work and how much experience you have.
Generally speaking you’ll earn more from an agency like the Ministry of Fun than if you apply for jobs posted online, which will usually pay between £6-8 an hour but you can earn up to about £15 an hour. With an agency, both Santas and elves can generally earn between £100 and £200 for a day/session. You may get travel expenses too if it’s a special job. Apparently Santas also get a lot of gifts – usually homemade cakes and sweets. Yippee!
Against that there are a few costs – like your costume for a start. You’ll also need to have the DBS check, which isn’t free. If you’re employed by an agency, they will carry this check out for you and you’ll be able to get all the information from them. If you’re ‘self-employed’ however, and applying through job centres or online, a DBS check is hard to get if you haven’t already got one. View our article on DBS checks here.
Also, bear in mind that many jobs will not pay your travel expenses, so if this is the case, it probably won’t be worth applying for jobs that aren’t local to you – unless they’re offering a big wage!