I have taken various combinations of my pets to get their pictures taken with Santa for over 15 years. These photos mean a lot to me. I love getting out the box of Christmas decorations each year and reminiscing about years of magical Christmases through the photos of my pets. At our holiday parties, friends will ask about past pets in the photos and the stories bring me such joy. We have been to charity events that sped us though like we were on a conveyor belt and handed us a Polaroid and we have paid for pricey sittings with professional photographers. With all my knowledge of pet Santa photos, for the past three years, I ran my own successful fundraising event for my favorite charity, The Doney Clinic. This year, due to everything Jason, all the pets and I have been through recently, we are taking the year off from doing the fundraiser. So, I am back to searching for somewhere to take the pets for a memorable Santa photo. As I started my search, I thought I would share with you some of the knowledge and wisdom I have gained through years of being addicted to pet Santa photos.
- Santa Claus is coming to town: In many areas there are different kinds of Santa pet photo events to chose from. And if you can't find an event you like, organize one! Some events are drop-in (and my advice would be to go early so as to avoid long lines that can be hard for pets) and others are by appointment (make sure to ask how long your photo sitting with Santa will be so you know what to expect.) As I look through my many Santa photographs, there is no difference in quality between the for-profit and the not-for-profit photos. It makes me happier to know that the money for a photo went to a good cause, so I prefer charity events. Charity events often have professional photographers donate their time. The volunteers at these events work very hard. And even if your photo isn't what you expected, it was for a good cause. Speaking of what you expect...
- The prettiest picture you've ever seen: The best Santa photo treasure you have of your pet may not be what you expect. I'm not saying don't expect a photo of your pet when you go to a pet photo event but maybe your pet won't like Santa. So you get a cute holiday photo of your pet waiting for Santa instead. Your pet also may be so enamored with Santa that he or she won't stop staring at the jolly old elf. Some of the cutest pet photos I have seen are when the pets aren't looking at the camera. One of the donors at our first Santa photo event put a photo of her dog licking Santa on her Christmas cards. It still makes me smile!
- Don we now our gay apparel: Even if you want a photo of just your pets, the humans of your family should dress in something they wouldn't hate wearing in a photo. I think the Santa photos of me, my mom or both of us shoved into the frame hugging a crazy dog are funny, now, but at the time I wished I had at least brushed my hair that morning. Pets can dress festively too. We had a basket of reindeer antlers, Santa hats and festive collars in various sizes at our Santa photo events but many people came prepared with their own holiday dog costumes. Whether or not your dog wants to sit with Santa, look at the camera, lay down or stand, you could get a memorable photo of your pet in a cute Christmas sweater, collar or hat. However...
- Joy to the world: Don't do anything to make your pets uncomfortable. If they don't want to wear a hat, fine. If they don't want to sit next to Santa, okay. In fact, if they don't want to be at the Santa pet photo event at all, leave. Believe me when I tell you that in twenty years the memory of having a fun time at a holiday event with your pet will matter more than the actual photo.
- But they only paused a moment when they heard him holler STOP: Since you will be completely focused on your pets when you go to get pictures with Santa, you will, of course, be sure to keep them safe. Your cat and other smaller pets must stay safely in their carriers until Santa's helpers instruct to get them out. Keep your dog on a leash. Do not let your dogs or other pets visit other animals while waiting to see Santa. Santa pet events are not an appropriate place for socialization with other dogs, cats, etc.
- There's no place like home for the holidays: Photos with Santa are not for all people and they are also not for all pets. If your pets don't like the color red, being around a lot of other animals or people (especially people with beards) stay home. There are plenty of great holiday photos to be had without visiting Santa.
(You can also tell us how cute our Santa photos are. We love that!)