I am really, really over "virtual" being used as an adjective in front of things I really, really love. Virtual happy hours are not fun any more, virtual school is just depressing, and virtual Santa visits sound like the opposite of tidings of comfort and joy. I figured for this year's Santa picture — the first one my two girls would ever miss — I'd make some note in a journal about COVID-19 and why it wasn't going to happen. But then I heard about Chatbooks virtual Santa visit and thought, fine. I'll try this one last virtual thing.
Guys. I'm really, really glad I did. Chatbooks offered me the chance to try it out before the experience goes public, and it was just such a magical moment.
Starting Nov. 27 through Nov. 28, Chatbooks will give families the opportunity to have a private 10-minute chat with the jolly ol' guy himself. It's super simple to sign up — you pick a 10-minute time slot and fill out the information, which asks for things like your children's names and ages, as well as information about them you just think Santa should know. (This makes it so personal and perfect. Santa's elf will answer the Zoom call in the "waiting room" with you to make sure Santa is ready, and both the elf and Santa greeted my girls with their names. Santa even knew to ask my daughter about how much she loves reading and how first grade is going.)
You'll also have the opportunity to pick your Santa. When I chose, there were three Santas to choose from, offering diversity for families who want a Santa with a specific look. And the entire event is free.
Once you've got your time set up, just hop onto the provided Zoom link, and you'll be greeted by an elf who will give you some info — like you have 10 minutes with Santa, and that they'll take your picture at the end — before St. Nick signs on. Once he does, it's a perfect little conversation between your kids and Santa Claus himself. My 6-year-old Alice was beside herself. Both she and her 2-year-old sister Lucy were eating snacks, and Santa asked them what they were eating, asked them how school was going, and of course, what they wanted for Christmas. He also opened the floor to questions, giving Alice the opportunity to ask him how many reindeer he had. (500, apparently.) This turned into a whole sweet conversation about Rudolph, and Santa shared his secret origin story with us, swearing our daughters to secrecy. (If Santa is reading this, they did not say a word, even when their grandmother asked.)
Santa then asked Alice if she thought she was going to be on the nice list this year, and put in a call to his naughty/nice department. This was, hands down, the most magical part. He was put on hold — Alice thought it was hilarious that the music was "Jingle Bells" — and transferred from elf to elf until he finally got a hold of someone to ask them about Alice. There was a long pause while the elf went to check (Alice leaned into me and whispered, "I'm nervous"), and when he came back, the little elf voice shouted out that Alice was on the nice list.
When I tell y'all my daughter shrieked with glee and clapped her hands — it was just so good.
The little session ended with Santa promising to deliver presents soon to the girls, and then there was a photo taken of their little Zoom box next to Santa's. Is it the Santa picture you've always dreamed of? Nah. (In hindsight, I wish I had dressed them in their Santa jammies for the photo.) But is it going to be an incredible story, and the perfect capture of a fun Christmas experience? Yes. Yes it is.
So starting Nov. 19 at 9 a.m. PT, you can sign up here to book your own 10-minute chat with Santa Claus. I'd recommend booking as soon as you can so that you get a spot!
And from a person who didn't have her tree or any decorations up yet, I think it would be really great to set your kids in front of a holiday background. Whether that's a blanket on the couch or them snuggled up in Christmas jammies in front of the tree, you can really go for it here. Make hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows and whipped cream), play some Christmas tunes, and set the scene. It's not Macy's, but it'll do just fine for this year. (Besides, when do you ever get 10 minutes to ask Santa questions without someone huffing behind you because it's their turn for an overpriced photo and mini candy cane?)
Your photo will also come with a code for your next Chatbooks purchase, and the email will also give instructions on how to score another discount code just by sharing your photo.
All is merry and bright, y'all. And I hope your kids are on the nice list, too.