It might not be the easiest gig in the world, dealing with massive crowds of kids – some of whom 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., most Santas 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 told FOX Business, adding that many Santas may see a big boost this year due to the economy.
“We have seen a dramatic influx of requests this year than last year,” he added, while noting that the hourly rates have unfortunately remained the same from last year.
Walt Frasier, a freelance Santa from New York, said he made around $7,000 for the month last year 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 told FOX Business last December.
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 said he is 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 said, 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 added.
The biggest reason why many opt out on the mall work is because it’s the lowest paying.
According to a survey from Payscale last 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.
Allen, whose company debuted on ABC’s “Shark Tank” earlier this month and has been picked up by investor Barbara Corcoran, said the reason mall Santas get paid significantly less is because they 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 ol’ Saint Nick as a career. The suit alone could run up to $1,200, and many jobs require that Santa hopefuls go to Santa school, which could run an additional $250 to $500 in 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 said.