Bad Santa Claus

Can ‘pretend’ Santa’s ruin your child’s Christmas?

A few weeks ago Debenhams announced their stores would no longer have a Santa’s grotto. Feedback showed that youngsters were left bewildered after seeing so many Santas. Bad Santa Claus

This led to a statement from Netmums who said in their opinion there wasn’t enough Santas. Their spokesperson Sophie Freeman told The Telegraph, which reported the original story: “Kids aren’t as cynical as adults, they don’t question everything and are unlikely to wonder why they may have seen more than one.”

Meanwhile Justine Roberts of Mumsnet added: “The only complaints we have on the subject are that grottos appear too early in the year.”

As a mum of three, my own experience is mixed. Both my sons didn’t question multiple Santas, but my daughter – who is the youngest – did.

This led her at the age of just four to announce tearfully one Christmas Eve that she didn’t want a Santa man coming in the house, let alone into her bedroom, even if he was bearing the presents she wanted …

Hence I ended up explaining Santa wasn’t real at a very early age – she went to sleep happily and we never looked back. By then my eldest son was seven and beginning to disbelieve anyway and there was a risk he was going to tell his little brother, then aged 5, the truth.

None of this spoilt the magic of Christmas for my kids. The only issue I had was other mums – who were terrified my children would tell their children Santa wasn’t real after all…

Now another survey reveals that bad grottos with poor Santas are ‘ruining the good Santa’s name.’

Amongst the queues for a chance to see Santa’s, researchers found a litany of issues such as pillows up Santa suits, ill-fitting elf outfits, poor beard discipline and poor, cheap presents.

The main causes for concern were:

Cheap presents: 10p bubbles, mini chocolate bars, and worst of all one poor child was given a spatula. One concerned mother commented: “We queued for 20 minutes and paid £5, now my child who had been looking forward to Christmas since July thinks that Santa doesn’t like him. What is a 5-year-old going to do with a spatula?”

Expensive access to Santa:

Costs of £5 to to sit on his lap for a minute, a 10p present and a terrifying photo.

Poor Santa discipline:

Lack of “Ho-ho-ho” and effective Naughty/Nice interrogation in some quarters.

Poor Santa hygiene:

Some of the Santas encountered had bad ‘ciggie’ breath.

Poor Santa fashion:

Clothing trends move on, but Father Christmas stays the same. However, he never turned up on Christmas night with holes in his socks and a silver belt buckle that was made out of tin foil.

Lack of elf discipline:

Father Christmas let down by badly dressed helpers with a poor attitude to the job.

Mark Hall, gentleman creation officer at sock subscription service who conducted the research, said: “Father Christmas is a true role model for millions – if not billions – of kids around the world, but his representatives up and down the country are letting the legend down with poor dress sense.

“Kids want a genuine experience with the big man that they’ll remember for a lifetime, not obvious cotton wool beards, garden centre wellie boots, and a pillow sticking out of his suit.”

* offers a monthly sock subscription service for men.

What do you think of Santas and grottos in stores? Perhaps you’ve come across a bad Santa story and you would like to see it exposed in a national newspaper or magazine? Contact us or let us know your thoughts below…

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

One thought to “Can ‘pretend’ Santa’s ruin your child’s Christmas?”

  1. I agree there are too many Santa’s and not all of them are professional enough. Last year my 2 and a half year old daughter had a bad Santa experience in a department store. A pretend Santa was walking around giving out gifts to children and our little girl saw him doing this. She ran after him but his tone wasn’t gentle enough for a little one, (smart alec bullying delivered in a nasaly cockney accent). She became shy and he laughed at her and said ‘I’m off before she starts blubbing!’. He did not seem to think her old enough to bother with so did not offer her a gift out of the sack. She had only just begun to understand about Santa but this experience put her off. She was frightened of him that Christmas and did not want anything to do with Santa again. I contacted the store because I did not want Christmas spoiling for other children and the store were lovely. They called to apologise, dealt with the pretend Santa, got the real Santa to send my daughter a letter and a lovely gift. They managed to repair some of the damage. Others have had worse experiences – a news report this week of an imposter whispering in his grotto to children that Santa doesn’t exist just to make them cry. The city we live in has many Santa’s on every street and even a Santa run where hundreds of people dressed as Santa crowd the streets. It’s all a bit too much and spoils the mystery and magic.

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