This will be my toddler’s 4th Christmas already, wow, time flies! Which means I could be spending another $50+ on Santa photos, rounding out the total to over $200 during his lifetime!! Poor kid doesn’t even like Santa (I don’t blame him, after my infant pic with the big guy, there wasn’t another until I was in college!). I felt better about spending the money in past years because we were lucky enough to be very close to one of the Dreamworks Adventure to Santa experiences. I like spending money on experiences and this was a pretty cool one that our whole family could share. I guess they did away with it this year because I’ve googled and it is totally ghosting! That’s fine, this year I realized we have several opportunities to get FREE Santa photos (though my kid is already nervous!!).
- We’re taking advantage of our annual passes and memberships. I mentioned I like spending money on experiences. And last year we started asking for them in lieu of tangible Christmas gifts. This year we had memberships or passes to 4 places – the zoo, the aquarium, and indoor water park, and an amusement park. I can’t tell you how happy I am having all of these, I might need to write a post all about the value of experience, having passes to a variety of places and how they save money and keep your family from being bored, but I need to focus on Santa right now!
- The amusement park is offering Santa meet & greets and photos, though apparently they are not allowing any “personal photography.” Sigh, money grubbers! At least I had the joy of seeing my little guy have his first tear-free visit with Santa, so I know he’ll be ready for all the meet & greets and photos we have planned over the next month!
- The aquarium not only has photo opps with “Scuba Santa” but they are hosting a free members-only event to have milk and cookies with Santa! In this case, we should have the option to take our own photos in addition to their professional shots.
- NOTE: Our other two memberships, the zoo and indoor water park, are offering paid “Breakfast with Santa” experiences but we are opting out of those. There’s enough free stuff going on to take advantage of this holiday season!
- The farm is gearing up for Christmas, too. This past Spring I started following a local farm on Facebook and now I hear about all their fun events! A year or two ago I would only think about this farm for Fall pumpkin picking but they have great activities all year round, including the holiday season! Christmas light hayrides, roasting s’mores in a bonfire, AND visits with Santa. This one clearly says “free of charge” and “bring your own camera” on the website. If I’m honest, I know we’ll drop a few bucks on a s’more kit and a hayride while we’re there, but I’ll feel better about it because it’s cheaper than the s’more kit at the amusement park!!
- Our church has an annual Christmas Tree Lighting event where Santa makes an appearance. For 5+ years our church has put on a very successful annual Christmas Tree Lighting. They set up an outdoor stage, play rocking Christmas music, offer free hot chocolate, cider, and cookies. The little ones line up in droves to take pictures with Santa once he arrives on a fire truck, sirens blaring. I always look forward to this event!
- We’re going to Disney in December. What I’m really looking forward to is our upcoming trip to Disney World. In case you don’t know, I’m a Disney freak. We’ve been going once a year since my son has been born and this will be his third trip, but his first during the holiday season (my husband’s, too)! I participated in the Disney College Program more than 10 years ago and while I was down there during the holidays, my roommates and I got great pictures with Santa at what is now Disney Springs. I remembered that experience recently as I was thinking about our trip and did a little googling to confirm my hope that Santa photos were included with the Memory Maker package! Memory Maker is $169 when purchased in advance of your trip. That may seem like a hefty cost, especially when the Disney PhotoPass photographers will gladly use your own camera to snap a pic of your group, but when you’re going for a week and take advantage of the portrait opps AND get magic shots (that you can’t get with your own camera), I find it worth it. We get hundreds of high quality photos from our trip! So now we will get some great Santa portraits as well. You could argue that I’m spending way more than $50 for Santa pics by purchasing Memory Maker, but in my mind, I was going to buy Memory Maker no matter what. I could’ve been buying Santa photos, TOO! And maybe with all of the other Santa opps listed above, he won’t be so scared by the time we get to Disney and get the fancy professional portraits!
Do you have any other ways that you get free photos with Santa? Check our your town’s events via a municipal website or community newspaper and see if there are any local opportunities you can take advantage of!