The face of Christmas sometimes needs a refresher course.
With the silly season drawing closer and as children jot down items on their Christmas wish-lists, the one man they come to is learning how to deal with any questions that may arise.
For national Santa co-ordinator Sian Baker, or as she prefers to be called, "Santa's not so little helper", her job is to make sure 180 Santas across the country are ready.
About 20 Santas taught by Mrs Baker will be around various malls and outlet stores in Wellington, with some starting as early as next week.
It's a time-consuming job. "There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that I do to prepare for the Christmas season, organising costumes, rosters, police checks, etc.
"Our Santa training school is half a day of intense training, but we make sure we bring humour into the training process. After all, the role is a lot of fun.
"We go through a whole range of things, the role of Santa at the mall, from the perspective of retailers and children.
"We talk about how to dress correctly, handling children with disabilities, answering difficult questions, dealing with frightened or screaming children," Mrs Baker said.
And while many children continue to ask for dolls, cars and trains, the past few years have seen some new requests.
"I've heard the Santa's say they have more requests for mobile phones, iPads, Wiis and PlayStations."
After organising the Santas for six years, it seems Mrs Baker will be continuing with her job for a long time to come. "It's the best job ever, as I get to deal with such wonderful people who love what they do."
HO HO HO AND NO NO NO
What would Santa say? If it sounds like something he would never utter, keep it to yourself.
True love: Despite high divorce rates, Santa and Mrs Claus are still blissfully happy in wedlock.
Impossible requests: Never promise anything unusual or special, just stick to "I'll see what I can do."
Method acting: Make the role your own, be inventive and improvise.
Twenty-first century: Keep up to date with the new toys that kids will ask for.
- The Dominion Post
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