CHICAGO – At the Jolly Old Elf’s satellite offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Marlton, New Jersey, there’s a lot of love for an option that was low on Santa’s list last year: the Zoom visit.
With Zoom, parents can give the Jolly Old Elf previsit reminders about how to pronounce kids’ names, and alert him to whether the little ones are still excited about soccer or ballet, or what exciting new roles they’re taking on at home or in school, according to Los Angeles-based Santa Ed Taylor.
“Santa is much better prepared,” Taylor noted with a chuckle.
As a result, visits are longer and the discussion is more of a real conversation, said Taylor, who has portrayed Santa in commercials for Reddi-wip, Kohl’s and Band-Aids.
Taylor, founder of the 3,500-member Worldwide Santa Claus Network, says a lot of Santas are really committing to the new format, honing their Zoom skills and asking themselves, “How can I up my game?” He’s particularly pleased with how Zoom visits are working out for kids with special needs, who get to meet Santa in the comfort of their own homes, without crowds or noise.
Taylor, who has done more than 260 Zoom Santa visits this year, advises parents to help Santa do his homework, by providing information about their kids.
And Taylor takes his hat off to all the Santas who are making Zoom visits happen.
“It’s a bright spot,” he said. “Santa Claus is an avatar of goodness and kindness and jollyness, and all those things that, right now, we could all use an extra dose of.”
Here’s a sampling of Zoom options, including Chicago Santas, Santa Ed and Santas from Santa shops large and small. Prices range from free (for a prerecorded Macy’s Santa video) to $750 for one-on-one time with a top Santa on Christmas Eve.