Last Call Santa Claus

Before Sunday, I think it had been 28 years since I last visited Santa Claus. I don’t think my mom made me sit on his lap after I turned four or five years old. This season is the first year my two-and-a-half-year-old has shown (a lot of) interest in Christmas and Santa Claus. He’s a child wary of strangers, so we weren’t planning to bring him to see Santa since there was no way he’d sit on his lap for a photo. However, this past weekend we were looking for something to do to get out of the house and headed to Macy’s Santaland at the downtown Macy’s store. We were just going to walk through the display and skip the jolly man in red and white. But, when we asked him if he wanted to see Santa, he said yes.

It was a quick, yet eye-opening experience for new parents whose last Santa experience three decades ago was quite different. We couldn’t figure out how the line was moving so fast until we saw through the magic curtain that visitors were led in different directions. [Spoiler alert—believers turn away!] My husband said, “Oh, there’s more than one Santa!” Of course! Once we passed the curtain, we were led one direction, passed another door (with another well-hidden Santa), to a room with Santa and a photographer. We all got in on the picture, since my boy’s legs were wrapped tightly around my waist. But, after the photo was snapped, he yelled, “Bye Santa!” and hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

If visiting St. Nick is still on your to-do list while you’re visiting, you still have plenty of time! Not only can you stop at Macy’s Santaland (and stay for the Holidazzle, now in its final week), but there are several other places on all sides of town to check out.

If you’re to the west of the Twin Cities, stop by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for a ton of holiday activities, including Santa visits on Saturday, December 22 and Sunday December 23 (10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.).

Not only is Mall of America decorated to the hilt, and a great place to pick up a last-minute gift for anyone on your list, but you can also stop and visit Santa (located at the west entrance to Nickelodeon Universe). You can make an appointment (no waiting!) or visit at your leisure. Santa’s at Mall of America daily through Christmas Eve, starting at 9 a.m. Other local malls have Santa, too, including Rosedale, Ridgedale, Maplewood Mall, and Burnsville Center.

Bachman’s on Lyndale in Minneapolis presents (for free!) the short holiday play “Santa Busts a Christmas Move,” featuring Santa and his elf Albert. If you bring your own camera, you can take a photo with the man and his elf.

If you find yourself near Anoka, Mankato or Fargo, check out the holiday celebrations and Santa sightings in store for the weekend. But really, Santa’s everywhere, to those who believe (or who love little believers). So stay off the naughty list and keep your eyes open!