If you thought Santa was just a random, down-on-his-luck and possibly drunk old man your nearest mall pulled off the street for some cheap help selling toys at Christmas, you may be right—but not necessarily: For an elite group, being Santa is a full-time job that can net a cool $20k in a short amount of time.
It’s a rather lucrative side-gig for jolly fellows willing to invest a few thousand dollars in top-of-the-line Santa gear—or more, if you want to throw in actual reindeer and a slick-looking sleigh.
There are nearly 100 jobs ads for Santa on Indeed.com right now, but if you want to make some more serious side cash, you’ll need to join the elite Santa club, which might mean Santa training courses from the best in the business, plus a checklist of pricey accoutrements.
First off, you’ll need a Santa suit, because while some malls provide them, you’re not an elite Santa unless you have your own suit. You can order a cheap Santa suit online for a few hundred dollars, but the elite Santa bringing in $20k a year is bespoke, and not Made in China.
The Pro Santa Shop offers tailored Santa suits with everything from satin linings, red velvet and faux diamond buttons to sable, “polar bear plush” and “black Russian” fur. The price tag? Anywhere from $850 to $1400 and upwards. It’s for the serious Santa only.
Then you’ll need a beard, if you don’t have one of your own—and synthetic isn’t going to cut it. The elite Santa has painstakingly grown his own beard, or he’s purchased one made of human hair. The Custom Wig Company offers both custom-made Santa beards, wigs and moustaches, along with a line-up of ready-to-wear products—all made from human hair—and the custom products range from $1500 to upwards of $1900. Related: White House Doubles Down On Coal Despite New Climate Report
And while no Santa stocks his own reindeer, you can rent them singly for several hundred dollars an hour, as long as you have a sleigh.
Perhaps the most elite Santa is Ed Taylor, a 15-year “premier” Santa veteran whom you might have seen in a Coca-Cola commercial or snuggling with Gwen Stefani in a music video, as highlighted by Vox.
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Up close, this is what an elite—or, in Taylor’s words, a “premier”—Santa looks like:
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One of the best chances of becoming an elite Santa might entail training courses at Taylor’s Santa Claus Conservatory, where Taylor seeks to help aspiring Santas do everything from find year-round gigs to learning how to groom their beards properly.
While it’s not going to mint any millionaires, if done right—and religiously—there are opportunities well beyond the Christmas season, and Taylor told Vox that he charges $250 for the first half hour and books some 100 gigs a year.
But even this emerging elite profession has its share of competition. Taylor’s certainly is the only Santa school. Vox spoke with another elite Saint Nick, “Santa Rick”, an Orthodox Jew and former divorce arbiter who runs the Northern Lights Santa Academy and insists: “There’s two kinds of Santas: There are professional Santas and there are guys in red suits.”
So this year, if you are looking for a more fulfilling side gig and have a few thousand dollars to invest in the best, Santa—in the elite form—might help you fund Christmas.
By Josh Owens for conil.me
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