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Did you know?
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.

Chuck

Administrators

Everything posted by Chuck

  1. I've been reading all the latest news about how Facebook has been sharing user information with 'suspicious actors' around the world. I've always thought it a bit creepy how only stuff I like seems to show up in my feeds. Information gathered at PlanetChristmas is not shared with any entity. That explains why you see the stuff you like as well as the stuff you don't like. Your information at PlanetChristmas is safe and secure. Now I'm starting to wonder... was life better before Twitter and Facebook?
  2. Seems there's been a problem with posting ads to the Classifieds (Buy/Sell/Trade) section of the PlanetChristmas forums. After a few days of spinning in circles, things are now working as they should. I've made a slight change to the Classifieds system. Posting is now free for everyone. Look for the 'Buy/Sell/Trade' link in the main menu bar or just goto http://forums.planetchristmas.com/index.php?/classifieds/
  3. Chuck

    Where is it now! Uggg

    Well that took some digging. Seems it was in the 'Motorized Contraptions' subforum that I had disabled. It's back! Do a search on 'My Love for Hamberger Displays' and you should be rewarded for your patience.
  4. Like whoooooaaaaa. What happened to the forums? Everything has gone dark! Why? It's easier on the eyes? It's trendy right now? Chuck's finally lost it and gone nutso? Probably a bit of all but if you don't like the darkness then: Scroll to the bottom of the page. Look for a link called "Theme" and click it. Pick 'PlanetChristmas Theme (Magnum Light)' and all will return to the good old days.
  5. You've probably noticed a new block on the homepage of the forums. It's called a chatbox. Not totally sure how useful it is in real life but let's play with it. Let me know what you think.
  6. I made some tweaks to the main menu bar. There's a new item called 'Activity'. Click it for a bunch of options. Hope this makes navigation a little easier.
  7. The good news: the PlanetChristmas forums are about to undergo a big change. The bad news: people hate change and the new PlanetChristmas will have a different look and feel. When: February 1, 2018 Some details: The forums you are reading now be switched to the 'Archive' mode on February 1m, 2018. It's a fancy term meaning everything will stay online but no new posts, messages, classifieds or registration will be allowed. The search engines will still be able to find everything you've posted over the last 20 years. Much of your PlanetChristmas account information will be copied to the 'new and improved' PlanetChristmas. When you first attempt to log in you'll have to reset your password. The new PlanetChristmas merges the forums and DIY website. You'll also have the option of social media capabilities. Much of what you like about Facebook you'll be able to do in the new PlanetChristmas... minus the never-ending Facebook ads and unwanted news articles. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of groups. The forums will begin with a clean slate. No more timely topics about Christmas Expo 2011 .) Sharing pictures and videos will be easier because a degree from Geek University won't' be required. Classifieds are being revamped to make things simpler to understand. ...and a lot of other features I haven't discovered yet. But... for some of us old-timers (I'm one of them) this big change could be frustrating at the beginning. Buttons and links will be in different places. Strange terms might have you scratching your head. Getting all your new options set just right will take trial and error. Think of it as one step back to be able to jump three steps forward. Are you super-worried about any of this? Feel free to share your concerns with me: chuck@planetchristmas.com Stay tuned. This is going to be fun!
  8. Chuck

    Christmas Cheer

    Time Left: 6 years and 7 months

    • Wanted
    • Used

    All we need is a bit of Christmas cheer any time of the year!

    $1.00

  9. Chuck

    Be a good Santa

    Learn from my mistakes. I decided to try and be Santa to further the Christmas experience for all the kids that would stop in front of my house to watch the lights. The local department store had a “Santa-in-a-box” outfit for $29.95. The suit was made of a bright red corduroy imitation material with some sort of white fuzzy stuff for trim. The jacket had no buttons and you put it on like a t-shirt. The pants had a drawstring for a belt. The wig looked like a bunch of cotton balls glued to a skullcap. You attached the white eyebrows with double-faced tape and the beard was a strip of white imitation fur with an elastic strap to go over your head I knew I was in trouble the first time I put that suit on. I looked at myself in the mirror and considered how non-Santa-like I looked and felt. I made a few modifications to the outfit by stuffing a pillow under the top to fill it out, wore a pair of glasses and got some white gloves. I figured I was close enough to looking like Santa since it was dark along the street in front of my house. I didn’t even consider how Santa Claus talks to others. Ho ho ho only goes so far before a child starts to cry or wants to ask a question. I have a vivid memory of stepping outside as Santa Claus, walking down the driveway, seeing a car stop, windows roll down and three kids start screaming for Santa Claus. I thought this was going to be great! I walked to the car, bent down and saw those eyeballs fixated on me. All I could think of saying was ho ho ho. One of the parents said “Look, it’s Santa! Why don’t you tell him what you want for Christmas?” Three kids started talking at the same time and all I could say was ho ho ho. It was a blur after that and all I remember is those kids looking at me with so much anticipation. I needed to work on my act because I surely didn’t make a good first impression. I was a semi-Santa. For several years, each night I would go outside and try different lines on the children. I soon mastered the way to ask kids what they wanted for Christmas so parents could hear and take notes. I learned how to banter with children and grown-ups yet never commit to any specific gifts. I taught myself how to handle the smallest babies as well as the most obnoxious teenagers. I even learned how to nudge kids back into believing in Santa Claus when they were right on the edge of not believing. Here are ten tips to be a Santa. They are hard earned and guaranteed to work. Practice each of them and you’ll be a great Santa Claus! The Secret Ten Santa Tips 1. Get a high-quality Santa suit. Go to the Internet and search for “Santa Suit”. You’ll be surprised how many places sell and/or rent them. Prepare to invest at least $250 USD to buy a good package including, zip-up jacket, pants, belt, boot tops, high-quality beard, wig and a hat. I strongly believe you can’t spend too much for the outfit. It’s just too easy to make a poor impression with a cheap outfit. A good suit is made of a rich, deep red fabric that people want to touch, trimmed in bushy, stark white fur. The belt should be several inches wide with a huge buckle in the front. The pants can have a drawstring to cinch them and pockets are very desirable to stash the keys when traveling by four-wheeled sleigh. Must outfits come with shoe toppers to make you look like you’re wearing boots. If you don’t have some real Santa boots, make sure you wear black socks and simple, polished leather shoes to go with the shoe toppers. I have a retired pair of plain, fancy-go-to-church shoes I’ve dedicated to Santa footwear. If you have the option of getting the shoes a little large, that’s good, because many times you’ll want to wear thick socks if it’s cold outside or you’re walking around much of the time. Bottom line: if you look like a real Santa, you’ll feel like a real Santa and have the confidence to act like a real Santa. 2. Accessorize your Santa outfit. Santa is overweight and people expect to see a chubby Santa. If you aren’t naturally big enough to fill out the jacket, stuffing a pillow in your outfit will work, but check the Internet for real Santa padding. The professional padding is more proportional to how real people look, plus it has straps to anchor things down on your body. Wear glasses, preferably, clear rimless or wire rimmed. In almost every picture you see of Santa, he is wearing glasses. Stay away from glasses with bold frames or you’ll distract from the overall appearance. You should also buy a bottle of anti-fog glass cleaner. You’ll discover that your breath behind a big beard fogs the glasses pretty quick. I always spray my glasses just before Santa makes an appearance. Make sure you have the best wig and beard available. You can spend $10 for a cheap set and get what you pay for, which ends up distracting from the overall Santa package. You can also spend $200 for a beard and wig made from real yak hair that looks like human hair. Over the years, I’ve bought and used more wig and beard sets than I can remember. The best seem to cost $60 to $90. You get stark white hair that is full bodied and is comfortable when you wear it. Unfortunately, you’ll get pretty hot indoors, but at least your hair will look good. Get some temporary white hair color to cover your eyebrows, mustache or any other facial hair you might have. Most costume shops can provide the hair color in very small bottles. Even though you’re wearing a wig and beard, remember children will be very close to you and looking at everything. If Santa has a white beard and hair, nothing looks worse than non-white eyebrows and/or a dark mustache peeking out. Buy several pair of white gloves. You’ll be touching a lot of people and many of them aren’t the cleanest in the world. The gloves offer a little protection and add to the overall appearance. When one pair of gloves become dirty, toss them in the washer and wear another pair. Get at least one bell of some sort to ring. Part of the Santa myth includes the sounds of the season and everyone can relate to bells. I have a couple of wrist bands with several one inch bells attached. You jingle while you walk, wave and move about. People love it! You can also use the bells by shaking your wrist to regain the attention of small children when they start looking elsewhere. Always carry a small bag filled with individually wrapped candy canes. It’s amazing how people react after talking to Santa and he slips them a candy cane. 3. Talk to the person at their eye level. This is how you tell a mediocre Santa from a great Santa. If you’re walking and a small child wants to talk to Santa, squat down so you’re eyes are the same level as the child’s. You create an immediate bond. If you’re sitting and a grown-up wants to talk, stand-up and get to their eye-level. Of all the methods Santa uses to make a connection with people, this is the most important. 4. Work on your ho ho ho. Sounds pretty corny, but the audible queue people react to most is Santa’s famous ho ho ho. It has to rumble from the bottom of your stomach and erupt from the mouth as a deep, forceful, yet natural sound. Practice in your car or when no one is around. Record your ho ho ho and analyze the results. Don’t take the Santa sound for granted. It’s a vital part of the whole package. 5. Practice your Santa banter. Many children clam uptight when their parents force them to talk to Santa Claus. Put yourself in their small shoes. Here’s this fat man, dressed in a strange red suit, has too much hair and is wearing an odd looking hat. It can be very intimidating. For many kids, it is very intimidating. Here’s a typical conversation: Santa: “Hi! What’s your name?” Child: “mumble, mumble, Phil.” Santa: “Hello, Phil.” Child: “My name is Bill!” Santa: “I’m sorry, Bill. I’ve still got snow in my ears while flying down from the North Pole tonight!” (at the same time, you’re tapping the palm of your hand against your ear as if trying to knock some snow out. The child starts to relax.) Santa: “Bill, what do you want for Christmas this year?” Child: long pause, a lot of looking around and panic is starting to set in. Santa: “Bill, I bet you want a new Barbie doll this year.” Child: “Nooooooooooo! I want (a long list goes here.)” You’ve put the child at ease by saying something ridiculous and they begin to open up to you. Works every time! You must also remember Santa Claus plays a vital role for the parents. Many times, just as the child is about to speak, you’ll see one or both parents/grandparents lean in to hear what the child is about to say. Your job as Santa is to repeat whatever the child tells you so everyone can hear. I’ve seen parents actually taking notes. Many times, parents have no idea what the child wants and there’s a look of total surprise when Billy says “I want a Batman outfit” or whatever the trendy toy of the year happens to be. Other times, what the child says won’t make sense, but by trying to repeat it the parent will say “oh, Billy means a red truck.” This re-enforces the gift in the child’s mine. One of the tricks I’ve learned is to let the child talk as long as he wants. Don’t worry. They’ll usually wear down after a couple of minutes. Many have their Christmas list memorized. Others have to think about it a little. But every child knows when they’re getting the brush-off from Santa and that’s bad. Just remember, this is a very special moment for you and the child, so take this opportunity seriously! Then there are the children with Christmas lists that seem to never end. If you try to stop them before they’re done reciting it, they’ll look pitiful. Sometimes you can break their train of thought by saying “Santa is going to have to get a trailer for his sleigh this year!” The parents will usually take the hint and speed up the child. Whatever you do, be there, look into the child’s eyes, let them know you are totally focused on them and wait till they’re done. Children around seven or eight are starting to have their doubts about Santa. I’ll let them tell Santa what they want then I ask if they have been good this year? They’ll always glance at their parents with this pleading look in their eyes. I’ll say “I know you’ve been good because I’ve been checking up on you Billy, but…” I’ll pause, put my hand on their shoulder, pull them a little closer and say “your room is always a mess!” The child’s eyes will grow as big as quarters and they will almost always say “How did you know that?” All you have to do is bellow “I’m Santa Claus!” The child is a believer and the parents have something to remind them about! Then there are the teenagers. Most boys try to act very macho and say they just want a million dollars for Christmas. Santa always replies with “Anything else?” Teenage girls seem to always come in pacts of three or more. I’ll usually pick the second girl, ask her name and then say “Santa already knows what you want for Christmas this year!” The girls will suddenly become quiet and look at Santa. Then I say “Santa knows this is the year you want a new boyfriend!” All the girls will shriek and laugh. Then I’ll lean in and ask “any chance you date short guys with big noses?” She’ll say something like “Ooooohhhhhh, nooooo!” and I’ll reply “Darn. I’m having a terrible time getting dates for my elves at the North Pole this year!” All the girls will walk away giggling and poking fun at the one girl Santa singled out. They’ll talk about it the rest of the night. Every forth or fifth child, I’ll let them tell Santa what they want and then I’ll lean closer and say “Sarah, can you do something special for Santa this year?” They’ll look at you with such anticipation because they’ve never been asked that question by Santa. You motion them closer with your finger so you’re just a few inches away. Remember, you’re at eye level. You then say “On Christmas Eve, Santa has to fly all around the world delivering gifts to his favorite boys and girls… and that’s a big job for an old guy like me. Sarah, would it be OK if when I get to your house, I stop, take a little break and maybe have some milk and cookies?” The child will look at you and always say “YES!” Then you ask “Now Sarah, what’s your favorite kind of cookie?” It doesn’t matter what they say, sugar, chocolate, Christmas or gingerbread, you suddenly grab the child with both hands and excitedly say “that’s my favorite, too!” The most amazing thing happens. When you first grab the child they’re scared and then when you tell them you like the same kind of cookies they do, the look of fear dissolves into the most beautiful smile you could ever imagine. That’s something the child and the parents will talk about through Christmas Eve. I end every conversation by giving the child a challenge. “Now Billy, do you promise to do everything your mommy or daddy asks you to do between now and Christmas? Because if you do, I’ll make sure I leave you something extra special under the tree!” The child will always nod yes and the parents will almost always say “Thank you, Santa!” 6. Be quiet, let them talk but don’t commit. You’ll learn to be a very good listener as Santa Claus but you must be very careful never to promise anything specific. Don’t raise the child’s expectations to something that can’t be delivered. On occasion, a child will ask for something that will make your heart ache. “Santa, can you get my mommy and daddy back together?” “Santa, my daddy has been in the hospital for a long time, can you make him better?” “Santa, my mommy died this year, can you make my daddy happy again?” I’m never real sure how to respond to some of these questions other than to reach out, give the child a huge hug and remind them they are loved very much. 7. Don’t promise a pet. You’ll be surprised how many children want a real dog/cat/rabbit/hamster or some other live pet for Christmas. This is something for the parents to give a child since the parents will usually end up feeding, walking and cleaning up after the animal. Simply say pets don’t travel well in the sleigh from the North Pole and they need to talk to their parents about a present like this. The parents will nod their heads and secretly say “Thank you, Santa!” 8. Make sure every person you talk to gets a candy cane. Since Santa is always carrying a bag with him full of candy canes, he’s always prepared to give one away. I make sure to have all sizes, colors and flavors of candy canes available. I’ll also make sure to say the elves made that candy cane just for them. That candy cane is just one more thing to create a lasting memory with that child. 9. Work differently with babies and toddlers. If you get to talk to a baby that’s less than a year old and scared to death of strangers, they’ll usually look at you if you ring your bell. Then you say “I’ll see you next year, you’ll be a lot more talkative then!” and the parent will giggle and thank you. Toddlers that are almost talking are handled differently. Santa can usually ask “Can you say ho ho ho?” and the parents will start saying ho ho ho. There have been times when the child will say ho ho ho and the parents will say “those are the first words he’s ever said!” and walk away on top of the world. The most amazing thing about being Santa is every one trusts you with no questions asked. One year I was Santa at the local hospital and walked into every room to talk with the patients. It didn’t matter how old or sick they were, a smile always spread across their face. I would always leave them a magic candy cane the elves made just for them. There was one year when I was in the new mother wing and walked into a room where a mother had given birth that morning. The room was full of relatives and the baby was being cradled by the mother. Immediately upon seeing Santa, the mother gave me the baby to hold and barked for someone to get a camera quick to take the picture. A total stranger was holding their most precious possession, but that stranger was Santa Claus. 10. Ask for the hug! There’s one last thing to remember and this is the absolutely, most important. At the end of your conversation, open both arms wide and always ask if they want to give Santa Claus a hug. It doesn’t matter how young or old the person is, they will always give you a hug! The grown-ups will walk away and brag they still hug Santa and the kids know they’ve been hugged by someone who loves them. Getting that hug is the real reason for being Santa Claus!
  10. Here's the deal. My grand plan to totally revamp the forums for 2018 hasn't gone well. The old adage 'you get what you pay for' comes to mind. We use a forums package from Invision Power. Pricey to license in the beginning and then you have to renew support every six months. I use WordPress for other projects and thought I could use free plug-ins to emulate what Invision Power does. I built a new Wordpress site and added the forum plug-in. Paid an expert to migrate the 20,000+ accounts from Invision Power over to Wordpress. Then I realized some of the basic features we're used to with Invision Power weren't in the Wordpress based forums. No problem. There's a Wordpress plug-in for that. Pretty soon the free plug-ins led to needed 'pro' versions (secret code for 'you have to pay for that feature'). A few days ago I realized I had added more then 10 'forum enhancement' plug-ins and still didn't have near the functionality of Invision Power. With all those Wordpress plug-ins also came complexity. Tweaking a forum feature required guessing what plug-in implemented it and searching for the right page to make the change. I started thinking it was becoming worse than tweaking Invision Power. Then I ran the speed tests. Let's just say adding all those Wordpress plugins costs in several ways... money, computer processing and page load times. The Wordpress site is on a turbo-charged server with all sorts of caching techniques enabled. The empty Wordpress forums required patience as you jumped from page to page. Depressing. Then I got an email yesterday from Invision Power talking about upcoming enhancements and new features. I took a step back and looked at where I was going with the Wordpress based forums. Bottom line: backwards. How could I justify spending more time and money to lose features and priceless information from the past? Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo... Lots of words to say we're sticking with Invision Power (our current provider). The revamped goal is to take all the forum messages over two years old and 'archive' them. It means they're moved out of the way but still searchable. The various sub-forums that are left will be consolidated, simplifying navigation for all. Some of the features requested in earlier posts will be explored with Invision Power. Seems there's a lot about the software I wasn't aware of. I've learned this the hard way thanks to Wordpress. Changes will be happening over the next couple of weeks. The best news is you won't have to suffer through learning how to use a new forum. Please stay tuned.
  11. 20+ years ago the original PlanetChristmas chatroom was born. Let's just say it was lonely for the longest time. The chatroom evolved into forums as traffic increased and over the years we've used several different packages with more and more features. Then along came social networking. I thought Facebook and Twitter would be a flash in the pan. I'm thinking I got that wrong. The goal is to keep PlanetChristmas relevant but I need your help. What would you like to see added/changed/jettisoned in the PlanetChristmas community for 2018?
  12. Chuck

    Santa. Be a good one!

    Being Santa Claus carries a lot of responsibilities. People see a good looking Santa and want to believe the best. Santas in cheap outfits that take no pride in what they’re doing make Christmas bad for the rest of us. If you’re going to be Santa, do it correctly from the beginning. Learn from my mistakes. I decided to try and be Santa to further the Christmas experience for all the kids that would stop in front of my house to watch the lights. The local department store had a “Santa-in-a-box” outfit for $29.95. The suit was made of a bright red corduroy imitation material with some sort of white fuzzy stuff for trim. The jacket had no buttons and you put it on like a t-shirt. The pants had a drawstring for a belt. The wig looked like a bunch of cotton balls glued to a skullcap. You attached the white eyebrows with double-faced tape and the beard was a strip of white imitation fur with an elastic strap to go over your head I knew I was in trouble the first time I put that suit on. I looked at myself in the mirror and considered how non-Santa-like I looked and felt. I made a few modifications to the outfit by stuffing a pillow under the top to fill it out, wore a pair of glasses and got some white gloves. I figured I was close enough to looking like Santa since it was dark along the street in front of my house. I didn’t even consider how Santa Claus talks to others. Ho ho ho only goes so far before a child starts to cry or wants to ask a question. I have a vivid memory of stepping outside as Santa Claus, walking down the driveway, seeing a car stop, windows roll down and three kids start screaming for Santa Claus. I thought this was going to be great! I walked to the car, bent down and saw those eyeballs fixated on me. All I could think of saying was ho ho ho. One of the parents said “Look, it’s Santa! Why don’t you tell him what you want for Christmas?” Three kids started talking at the same time and all I could say was ho ho ho. It was a blur after that and all I remember is those kids looking at me with so much anticipation. I needed to work on my act because I surely didn’t make a good first impression. I was a semi-Santa. For several years, each night I would go outside and try different lines on the children. I soon mastered the way to ask kids what they wanted for Christmas so parents could hear and take notes. I learned how to banter with children and grown-ups yet never commit to any specific gifts. I taught myself how to handle the smallest babies as well as the most obnoxious teenagers. I even learned how to nudge kids back into believing in Santa Claus when they were right on the edge of not believing. Here are ten tips to be a Santa. They are hard earned and guaranteed to work. Practice each of them and you’ll be a great Santa Claus! The Secret Ten Santa Tips 1. Get a high-quality Santa suit. Go to the Internet and search for “Santa Suit”. You’ll be surprised how many places sell and/or rent them. Prepare to invest at least $250 USD to buy a good package including, zip-up jacket, pants, belt, boot tops, high-quality beard, wig and a hat. I strongly believe you can’t spend too much for the outfit. It’s just too easy to make a poor impression with a cheap outfit. A good suit is made of a rich, deep red fabric that people want to touch, trimmed in bushy, stark white fur. The belt should be several inches wide with a huge buckle in the front. The pants can have a drawstring to cinch them and pockets are very desirable to stash the keys when traveling by four-wheeled sleigh. Must outfits come with shoe toppers to make you look like you’re wearing boots. If you don’t have some real Santa boots, make sure you wear black socks and simple, polished leather shoes to go with the shoe toppers. I have a retired pair of plain, fancy-go-to-church shoes I’ve dedicated to Santa footwear. If you have the option of getting the shoes a little large, that’s good, because many times you’ll want to wear thick socks if it’s cold outside or you’re walking around much of the time. Bottom line: if you look like a real Santa, you’ll feel like a real Santa and have the confidence to act like a real Santa. 2. Accessorize your Santa outfit. Santa is overweight and people expect to see a chubby Santa. If you aren’t naturally big enough to fill out the jacket, stuffing a pillow in your outfit will work, but check the Internet for real Santa padding. The professional padding is more proportional to how real people look, plus it has straps to anchor things down on your body. Wear glasses, preferably, clear rimless or wire rimmed. In almost every picture you see of Santa, he is wearing glasses. Stay away from glasses with bold frames or you’ll distract from the overall appearance. You should also buy a bottle of anti-fog glass cleaner. You’ll discover that your breath behind a big beard fogs the glasses pretty quick. I always spray my glasses just before Santa makes an appearance. Make sure you have the best wig and beard available. You can spend $10 for a cheap set and get what you pay for, which ends up distracting from the overall Santa package. You can also spend $200 for a beard and wig made from real yak hair that looks like human hair. Over the years, I’ve bought and used more wig and beard sets than I can remember. The best seem to cost $60 to $90. You get stark white hair that is full bodied and is comfortable when you wear it. Unfortunately, you’ll get pretty hot indoors, but at least your hair will look good. Get some temporary white hair color to cover your eyebrows, mustache or any other facial hair you might have. Most costume shops can provide the hair color in very small bottles. Even though you’re wearing a wig and beard, remember children will be very close to you and looking at everything. If Santa has a white beard and hair, nothing looks worse than non-white eyebrows and/or a dark mustache peeking out. Buy several pair of white gloves. You’ll be touching a lot of people and many of them aren’t the cleanest in the world. The gloves offer a little protection and add to the overall appearance. When one pair of gloves become dirty, toss them in the washer and wear another pair. Get at least one bell of some sort to ring. Part of the Santa myth includes the sounds of the season and everyone can relate to bells. I have a couple of wrist bands with several one inch bells attached. You jingle while you walk, wave and move about. People love it! You can also use the bells by shaking your wrist to regain the attention of small children when they start looking elsewhere. Always carry a small bag filled with individually wrapped candy canes. It’s amazing how people react after talking to Santa and he slips them a candy cane. 3. Talk to the person at their eye level. This is how you tell a mediocre Santa from a great Santa. If you’re walking and a small child wants to talk to Santa, squat down so you’re eyes are the same level as the child’s. You create an immediate bond. If you’re sitting and a grown-up wants to talk, stand-up and get to their eye-level. Of all the methods Santa uses to make a connection with people, this is the most important. 4. Work on your ho ho ho. Sounds pretty corny, but the audible queue people react to most is Santa’s famous ho ho ho. It has to rumble from the bottom of your stomach and erupt from the mouth as a deep, forceful, yet natural sound. Practice in your car or when no one is around. Record your ho ho ho and analyze the results. Don’t take the Santa sound for granted. It’s a vital part of the whole package. 5. Practice your Santa banter. Many children clam uptight when their parents force them to talk to Santa Claus. Put yourself in their small shoes. Here’s this fat man, dressed in a strange red suit, has too much hair and is wearing an odd looking hat. It can be very intimidating. For many kids, it is very intimidating. Here’s a typical conversation: Santa: “Hi! What’s your name?” Child: “mumble, mumble, Phil.” Santa: “Hello, Phil.” Child: “My name is Bill!” Santa: “I’m sorry, Bill. I’ve still got snow in my ears while flying down from the North Pole tonight!” (at the same time, you’re tapping the palm of your hand against your ear as if trying to knock some snow out. The child starts to relax.) Santa: “Bill, what do you want for Christmas this year?” Child: long pause, a lot of looking around and panic is starting to set in. Santa: “Bill, I bet you want a new Barbie doll this year.” Child: “Nooooooooooo! I want (a long list goes here.)” You’ve put the child at ease by saying something ridiculous and they begin to open up to you. Works every time! You must also remember Santa Claus plays a vital role for the parents. Many times, just as the child is about to speak, you’ll see one or both parents/grandparents lean in to hear what the child is about to say. Your job as Santa is to repeat whatever the child tells you so everyone can hear. I’ve seen parents actually taking notes. Many times, parents have no idea what the child wants and there’s a look of total surprise when Billy says “I want a Batman outfit” or whatever the trendy toy of the year happens to be. Other times, what the child says won’t make sense, but by trying to repeat it the parent will say “oh, Billy means a red truck.” This re-enforces the gift in the child’s mine. One of the tricks I’ve learned is to let the child talk as long as he wants. Don’t worry. They’ll usually wear down after a couple of minutes. Many have their Christmas list memorized. Others have to think about it a little. But every child knows when they’re getting the brush-off from Santa and that’s bad. Just remember, this is a very special moment for you and the child, so take this opportunity seriously! Then there are the children with Christmas lists that seem to never end. If you try to stop them before they’re done reciting it, they’ll look pitiful. Sometimes you can break their train of thought by saying “Santa is going to have to get a trailer for his sleigh this year!” The parents will usually take the hint and speed up the child. Whatever you do, be there, look into the child’s eyes, let them know you are totally focused on them and wait till they’re done. Children around seven or eight are starting to have their doubts about Santa. I’ll let them tell Santa what they want then I ask if they have been good this year? They’ll always glance at their parents with this pleading look in their eyes. I’ll say “I know you’ve been good because I’ve been checking up on you Billy, but…” I’ll pause, put my hand on their shoulder, pull them a little closer and say “your room is always a mess!” The child’s eyes will grow as big as quarters and they will almost always say “How did you know that?” All you have to do is bellow “I’m Santa Claus!” The child is a believer and the parents have something to remind them about! Then there are the teenagers. Most boys try to act very macho and say they just want a million dollars for Christmas. Santa always replies with “Anything else?” Teenage girls seem to always come in pacts of three or more. I’ll usually pick the second girl, ask her name and then say “Santa already knows what you want for Christmas this year!” The girls will suddenly become quiet and look at Santa. Then I say “Santa knows this is the year you want a new boyfriend!” All the girls will shriek and laugh. Then I’ll lean in and ask “any chance you date short guys with big noses?” She’ll say something like “Ooooohhhhhh, nooooo!” and I’ll reply “Darn. I’m having a terrible time getting dates for my elves at the North Pole this year!” All the girls will walk away giggling and poking fun at the one girl Santa singled out. They’ll talk about it the rest of the night. Every forth or fifth child, I’ll let them tell Santa what they want and then I’ll lean closer and say “Sarah, can you do something special for Santa this year?” They’ll look at you with such anticipation because they’ve never been asked that question by Santa. You motion them closer with your finger so you’re just a few inches away. Remember, you’re at eye level. You then say “On Christmas Eve, Santa has to fly all around the world delivering gifts to his favorite boys and girls… and that’s a big job for an old guy like me. Sarah, would it be OK if when I get to your house, I stop, take a little break and maybe have some milk and cookies?” The child will look at you and always say “YES!” Then you ask “Now Sarah, what’s your favorite kind of cookie?” It doesn’t matter what they say, sugar, chocolate, Christmas or gingerbread, you suddenly grab the child with both hands and excitedly say “that’s my favorite, too!” The most amazing thing happens. When you first grab the child they’re scared and then when you tell them you like the same kind of cookies they do, the look of fear dissolves into the most beautiful smile you could ever imagine. That’s something the child and the parents will talk about through Christmas Eve. I end every conversation by giving the child a challenge. “Now Billy, do you promise to do everything your mommy or daddy asks you to do between now and Christmas? Because if you do, I’ll make sure I leave you something extra special under the tree!” The child will always nod yes and the parents will almost always say “Thank you, Santa!” 6. Be quiet, let them talk but don’t commit. You’ll learn to be a very good listener as Santa Claus but you must be very careful never to promise anything specific. Don’t raise the child’s expectations to something that can’t be delivered. On occasion, a child will ask for something that will make your heart ache. “Santa, can you get my mommy and daddy back together?” “Santa, my daddy has been in the hospital for a long time, can you make him better?” “Santa, my mommy died this year, can you make my daddy happy again?” I’m never real sure how to respond to some of these questions other than to reach out, give the child a huge hug and remind them they are loved very much. 7. Don’t promise a pet. You’ll be surprised how many children want a real dog/cat/rabbit/hamster or some other live pet for Christmas. This is something for the parents to give a child since the parents will usually end up feeding, walking and cleaning up after the animal. Simply say pets don’t travel well in the sleigh from the North Pole and they need to talk to their parents about a present like this. The parents will nod their heads and secretly say “Thank you, Santa!” 8. Make sure every person you talk to gets a candy cane. Since Santa is always carrying a bag with him full of candy canes, he’s always prepared to give one away. I make sure to have all sizes, colors and flavors of candy canes available. I’ll also make sure to say the elves made that candy cane just for them. That candy cane is just one more thing to create a lasting memory with that child. 9. Work differently with babies and toddlers. If you get to talk to a baby that’s less than a year old and scared to death of strangers, they’ll usually look at you if you ring your bell. Then you say “I’ll see you next year, you’ll be a lot more talkative then!” and the parent will giggle and thank you. Toddlers that are almost talking are handled differently. Santa can usually ask “Can you say ho ho ho?” and the parents will start saying ho ho ho. There have been times when the child will say ho ho ho and the parents will say “those are the first words he’s ever said!” and walk away on top of the world. The most amazing thing about being Santa is every one trusts you with no questions asked. One year I was Santa at the local hospital and walked into every room to talk with the patients. It didn’t matter how old or sick they were, a smile always spread across their face. I would always leave them a magic candy cane the elves made just for them. There was one year when I was in the new mother wing and walked into a room where a mother had given birth that morning. The room was full of relatives and the baby was being cradled by the mother. Immediately upon seeing Santa, the mother gave me the baby to hold and barked for someone to get a camera quick to take the picture. A total stranger was holding their most precious possession, but that stranger was Santa Claus. 10. Ask for the hug! There’s one last thing to remember and this is the absolutely, most important. At the end of your conversation, open both arms wide and always ask if they want to give Santa Claus a hug. It doesn’t matter how young or old the person is, they will always give you a hug! The grown-ups will walk away and brag they still hug Santa and the kids know they’ve been hugged by someone who loves them. Getting that hug is the real reason for being Santa Claus!
  13. You're experiencing one of my biggest frustrations with the current forums... lots of features but the user interface can be super-awkward. Behind-the-scenes on the administrative side there are constant mental gymnastics required for what should be minor tasks. Urrrrgggggggg. What does the PlanetChristmas Forums future hold? The current forums will be switched to the 'Archive' mode meaning the threads will be accessible to all but no additions will be allowed. That's secret code for: Google will remember you forever The current users will be moved to the new forums where we'll start with a clean slate using many of the suggestions from this thread. Please keep the suggestions flowing.
  14. I get this request regularly. As I remember, you can edit your text for an hour after the original posting but then it's locked. Why? Troublemakers have been known to say something inflammatory, get everyone all worked up, change their original post and then claim 'it wasn't me!' The stories I can tell after 20 years... But, I'm looking into a different way of handling this. You can make edits but the original text remains available to be read. What would you like to see added/changed/jettisoned in the PlanetChristmas community for 2018?
  15. I watch ABC's Great Christmas Light Fight to get inspired and to pick up on trends. In my humble opinion the TV decorating world seems to be segmenting itself. Air Blown displays Blow Mold displays Computerized displays DIY displays Quirky displays (note I listed these in alphabetical order to be politically correct) I'm wondering if these should be natural groupings in the PlanetChristmas world?
  16. Every few years I attempt to consolidate some of the similar categories and end up getting blasted behind the scenes. Now that I think about it, some of the current categories originated with the original 1996 forums. I'm currently leaning towards archiving everything and starting with fresh categories in 2018. Would also modernize the classified ads section and simplify how we share videos and images. Also, add a few more social networking/Facebook-like features. What would you suggest for major categories? I'm open to any/all suggestions.
  17. Chuck

    Singing Snowman

    Submitted by PlanetChristmas forum user.
  18. Want a sneak peek at the November 2017 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine? magazine.planetchristmas.com/Magazine/November2017
  19. The PlanetChristmas staff is starting to think about the next issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine. This double-themed edition is tentatively based around Pixels and Blow Molds, though we won't shy away from any decorating topic. But... We need articles! It's your chance to become "published" and probably even world famous! Interested? Send an email to Chuck Smith with your article idea(s): chuck@planetchristmas.com Don't worry. We'll make you look great!
  20. Hmmmmmm. Not feeling much love on this topic. Interviewing Mel is certainly a good idea but we have about 70 more pages to fill with content. The PlanetChristmas staff is working on the next issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine. This double-themed edition is tentatively based around Pixels and Blow Molds, though we won't shy away from any decorating topic. But... We need articles! It's your chance to become "published" and probably even world famous! Interested? Send an email to Chuck Smith with your article idea(s): chuck@planetchristmas.com Don't worry. We'll make you look great!
  21. Latest as of September 5, 2017: Hopefully the big changes to the PlanetChristmas forums are behind us. Everything is basically the same except the opening page is a bit different because it consolidates several pieces of info into one place. Email notifications have been sporadic. We just changed the email host and initial tests look good. Keeping all fingers and toes crossed. We're about to bring back the blogs. Now you'll have a place in a dedicated Christmas community to talk about your passion... CHRISTMAS! Stay tuned. There's more to come!
  22. If the PlanetChristmas forums and/or website is acting a bit odd for you, don't panic. Techies are making some changes in the background. Take a break, have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and check back a bit later. This post will disappear when the gurus are done supposedly making our lives better...
  23. 20 years ago the internet was bloody-cutting-edge and no one knew what a forum was. PlanetChristmas entered this brave new world. Let's just say it was pretty slow in the beginning but with time we got that fixed. After multiple meltdowns/refreshes/upgrades, the PlanetChristmas forums are still going strong. We could have surrendered the forums to Facebook years ago... it sure would have been easier for PlanetChristmas but Christmas decorators are special people in our book and don't deserve getting lost within a faceless giant constantly devising new ways to sneak really irritating ads in front of you. Behind the scenes, at PlanetChristmas we've been building the infrastructure to combine the website, magazine and forums into one entity. The overall look and feel will be like what you're used to here in the forums... though the color scheme might be refreshed and there will be more options. You'll start seeing changes later this month. Why is PlanetChristmas changing again? We have another 20 years planned to help you put smiles on faces while making lifelong memories and family traditions. Stand back. There's work to do!
  24. We upgraded the main forums software yesterday to the latest/greatest available. No good deed goes unpunished. Seems we broke TapaTalk and some other features. Urrrrgggggg. Please stand by while we work through some issues.
  25. We upgraded the forums yesterday to the latest/greatest. No good deed goes unpunished. Please stand by while we work through some issues.
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