It might not be the easiest gig in the world, dealing with massive crowds of kids—some of which end up crying on your lap—but being a Santa Claus for hire could be extremely lucrative.
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According to Mitch Allen, partner at HireSanta LLC, a company that places hundreds of Saint Nicks throughout the U.S., says they typically rake in around $2,000 to $15,000 per holiday season, starting around Thanksgiving and ending on Christmas Day.
“Most make $3,000 to $7,000, but it really varies based on how much Santa wants to work and the type of work he wants to do,” Allen tells FOX Business.
Walt Frasier, a freelance Santa from New York, says he makes around $7,000 for the month combining all his corporate, public and private home appearances.
“[I typically charge] $150 to $250 an hour depending on the day and time. On Christmas Eve, I charge $300 an hour and as much as $500 for Christmas Day,” he tells FOX Business.
Lynn Allen, aka Santa Allen, who has been a professional Kris Kringle for nearly 10 years in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, wouldn’t disclose how much he makes in a season but did say he’s on the higher end of the pay scale.
“I work about five days a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The number of hours varies greatly, from more than 12 hours on Saturdays to just a few on the weekdays,” Allen says, adding that he avoids traditional mall work altogether to focus on higher-paying private and corporate events.
“My ideal client is an event that needs a performing Santa, a larger-than-life Santa with a magical look. I work with many large event planning companies that use Santa in their productions,” he says.
The biggest reason why many opt out on the mall work is because it’s the lowest paying.
According to a recent survey from Payscale in December, mall and department store Santas make around $30 an hour on average, with the high-end earners making as much as $75 an hour.
Mitch Allen says the reason why they get paid significantly less is because malls typically need their leading men in red for several hours, and most malls can’t fork over premium rates especially since many are struggling to stay afloat themselves.
And, while the pay is good, there are some downsides to pursuing good ole Saint Nick as a career. The suit alone could run upwards to $1,200, and many jobs require that Santa hopefuls go to Santa School, which could run an additional $250 to $500 worth of expenses.
“Good off-the-rack suits are $300 to $500 while custom suits are $700 to $1,200-plus. Most good Santas have a custom belt and buckle that are $200 to $300 and boots are around $100 to $1,000, so it can be expensive. Most professionals would probably say that it’s $1,000 for a suit all-in, and many of them have two to three of them or more,” Allen says.