catch santa in your living room with these free apps
Jose Luis Pelaez/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Snap A Pic Of Santa In Your Living Room With These Free Apps

It’s easy to delight your kids by “catching” Santa.

by Cat Bowen and Jilleen Barrett
Originally Published: 

If your kid is not quite convinced that Santa really is coming this year, but you suspect they’d like to be sold on the idea, well guess what? There’s an app for that. Catch Santa on your camera roll with these genius free apps that let you basically Photoshop Santa himself into your living room. It’s like playing Pokémon, but you're catching Jolly Old Saint Nick instead.

It’s creative as heck, and way more convincing than some of the things I’ve tried to convince my kids of the Santa myth. (Also, this requires 100% less glitter, which I am here for.) The apps are all basically the same. Simply film or take a picture of your living room or wherever Santa might be in your home. Then, click a button to insert and size Santa so that he fits appropriately into the space. Some of them have Santa unpacking presents, and others just have a Santa in repose. They’re fairly user-friendly, and best of all, free. They’re also available across iOS and Android. Just make sure to check the permissions you accept before you set them up to make sure you’re not accidentally giving a free app information you don’t want them to have.

I took the time to download and test drive all these (and more) applications to find the best and easiest to use. After excluding any apps that were slow to load, glitchy, or otherwise too costly. Here are the very best free “catch Santa” apps of the bunch.


iCaught Santa Lite

Catch a Character, LLC

iCaught Santa Lite has stickers of Santa Claus that you can add to pictures of your living room — ideally, in front of the tree like in this photo. Luckily, the app is free. It does offer in-app purchases, but you don’t need to buy anything because the stickers — which reviewers say are very high quality — are free.

The iCaught Santa Lite app is available on iOS and Android. Users say it’s extremely easy to use, but be sure to take screenshots of the picture you create if you can, because some users felt it was tricky to download them to their camera roll.


Catch Santa In My House

The free Catch Santa In My House app is super easy to use. It’s a straight-forward app that allows you to "trick" your kids into believing that you saw Santa in your room and caught him on camera.

Available for both iOS and Android, it's an easy photo edit app that allows you to choose one of 50 Santa poses that you then digitally place in a picture of your living room. The editor in the app is seamless and the pictures actually end up looking pretty good. If you save the pic and run it through a filter, it looks even more believable for the generation of kids who are living with AR every day.


Santa Was Here

The free Santa Was Here app is a bit more of a caricature, but it's still really cute. The platform is simple and interactive, with plenty of great options for placing Santa. Santa is kind of cartoonish in this version, so it’s better for younger kids, like toddlers. If you want more than a couple options or the ability to record and personalize your image, you’ll have to pay for an upgrade. However, it works the same as ‘Catch Santa,’ and just as easily. Again, filters are your friend, and it’s on iOS.


Capture The Magic

Capture the Magic

Capture the Magic for both iOS and Android, is pretty great. You can choose from almost 100 Santas, and pose them in myriad ways, flipping, resizing, and placing with just a tap. The graphics are convincing, with jolly Santas and additional stickers to make your scene all the more festive and fun. It’s easy to pretend that you caught Santa on your baby monitor or security camera with this app. Just take a picture of where you want Santa to be from the angle of the actual camera, and poof! You’ve caught Santa in the act.


PNG Photoshop Overlays


If you’re a Photoshop fan, you can even buy Santa PNG overlays to put in your own pictures. This gives you quite a bit more ability to blur edges, color correct, resize elements in your own photo, and to get the placement just right. You could even add in extra elements like snow, a smoky fireplace where none existed, and a halo of red and green around Jolly Old Saint Nick.

Kids believe in Santa for such a brief period in their lives. Why not make it as magical and real as you can? The world and real life can creep in at a later date. Right now? It’s time for fantasy.

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