Tutors, photographers and event professionals usually see bumps in business during summertime months. But some professionals – think writers, designers and dog walkers – might experience the dreaded summer slump, a drop off that happens when families take vacations and businesses push back their goals.
The same goes for our beloved Santa Claus. What’s more seasonal than a St. Nick costume?
Turns out though, the business of being Santa isn’t as red and white as you’d think.
What Santa Can Teach You about Conquering Your Own Summer Slump
John Fariss has been putting on the red suit since 1988, when he first volunteered to fill in for the regular guy at his local church. Over the years he stepped up a few more times, until 2006 when a friend convinced him to attend the Charles W. Howard Santa School (yes, that’s a real thing). He hasn’t looked back since.
Warren Prender, in Maryland, had wanted to be Santa for as long as he could remember. He loved the smiles, both shining on the faces of children and adults alike. By day, Warren is an Army veteran and teaches Real Estate Continuing Education.
And Illinois-based John Sullivan, now semi-retired, has a similar story, starting off running a Santa Claus mall contract for a photography company, working long hours from early November right through Christmas Eve. Today, most of Sullivan’s work is at photo studios, private parties and corporate events. But just because it’s crazy during the holiday months, he says, “doesn’t mean I’m not busy year-round!”
So where is Santa Claus right now?
Santa Enjoys His Hobbies
Part of the appeal of working for yourself is the freedom to structure your schedule so you’re able to devote time to other passions. For Farris, his full-time job (outside of managing the elves’ work load) is as pastor of a Maryland congregation. But in his spare time he enjoys restoring obsolete technology, like vacuum tube radios. He also volunteers at a small excursion railroad. “I spent the last two Saturdays shoveling coal into the firebox of a 90-year-old steam locomotive,” he said, “and let me tell you, my beard was not white when I finished!”
Santa Works on His Business
“When people ask me what I do when my Santa visits are finished,” Sullivan told me, “they are surprised to learn that from January until November every year, I am updating and adding pages to what has become a real passion, my website SantainChicago.com.”
Sullivan came up with the concept back in 2009: a web directory where visitors can find hundreds of different and unique Santas for Christmas and holiday events across the Chicago metropolitan area.
The site has grown to be an enormous resource—no other major city in the country has as comprehensive a collection of Santa Claus events. Sullivan just wouldn’t be able to devote enough time to the site during the Christmas season.
Santa Thinks Outside the Box
It turns out Santa’s summer job is much more varied than you’d expect. There’s demand for Santa well before Christmas, as brands need to film early for their holiday commercials and promotions. Starting in October, Prender starts getting television work with local car dealers.
We’ve also seen requests for Santas to participate in weddings and birthday parties for those who just need a little extra Santa in their lives.
Christmas in July, a rather odd but worldwide celebration of – wait for it – Christmas in July, also gives Santa a boost in requests.
While part of Farris’ work is done for charity (hospitals, shelters and the like), he gets a few paid projects for Santa appearances in the summer. “They are pretty few and far between,” he said, “but that’s okay by me. The suit is very hot in warm weather, even if wearing a cooling vest!” So the summer slump isn’t necessary a bad thing for Farris as he gets a bit more time to explore his hobbies and rest up for the winter scramble.