Taking children to see Santa has been a holiday tradition for American families for well over a century thanks to Massachusetts businessman James Edgar, who is credited as the first department store St. Nick. However, inflation and high demand in a scarce market have driven up the price for in-person Santa experiences.
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The cost of living, of course, also plays a factor in how much it costs to sit on Santa’s lap, but some states are better than others. Particularly, the Northwest, Midwest and South have the cheapest Santa price tags, while the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest have some of the highest, according to data from Treetopia, an artificial Christmas tree company.
Out of the 50 U.S. states, Alaska, Michigan, Alabama, Mississippi and South Dakota were the most affordable while Vermont, North Dakota, New York, Arizona and North Carolina were the most expensive.
For families that want to get their money’s worth in the most consumer-friendly Santa state, Alaska is the place to be, with malls asking for $11.33 on average for a photo op with the big guy.
If money isn’t an issue, then Vermont’s average cost of $50 for a Santa visit won’t be as shocking. But, as the most costly state, it could be worth it to take a road trip to neighboring states like Massachusetts or New Hampshire, which cost $23.33 and $24.67 on average, respectively.
Here is a breakdown of how much it costs, on average, to get photos taken with Santa in each state:
North Carolina: $33.65
North Dakota: $43.33
New Hampshire: $24.67
New Jersey: $30.00
New Mexico: $26.66
New York: $37.66
Rhode Island: $23.50
South Carolina $28.33
South Dakota: $21.00
West Virginia: $25.67
To get these figures, Treetopia averaged out the cost of Santa photo opportunities at “popular” malls in each state.