The Business of Being Santa


The “Santa industry” is a particularly good one to be in if you’re a portly old white man, apparently. A company called Thumbtack did a study of the business of being Santa Claus and found that it’s a pretty sweet deal a lot of the time. Of the 169 Santas that Thumbtack interviewed, the average hourly rate was a hefty $137.50. That’s not bad for a job that solely involves sitting down and chuckling.

The report notes that all Santas aren’t created equal:

Of course, that rate varies quite a bit, depending on a few different factors. A number of Santas confirmed that metropolitan areas tend to be a bit more competitive and thus more expensive than rural areas, and that corporate events are often pricier than private parties. Most Santas charge higher fees on the weekends, and premium fees for visits on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. There is usually an additional fee for a Mrs. Claus to come along, and most Santas charge extra for any significant travel. What’s the cheapest time to hire a Santa? Without a doubt, it’s before Thanksgiving, when rates are often discounted.

Some other tidbits:

  • Santas’ “badges of honor” are having a real beard and a classy suit. A really great high-end Santa suit might run you $5,000, but if you’re making nearly $140/hour that’s probably peanuts. The author notes that “there’s a lot of personal overhead that goes into being a first-class Santa, which echoes the reminder we heard from a number of Santas that you can’t just be in the business for the money.”
  • The guy who runs a website called New York Santa is about to put out a 600-page manual on how to be Santa.
  • There are an estimated 4,000 Santas throughout the United States.
  • There is something called a “Santa School.”

No word on where the optimal spot for Santas is, though we happen to know it’s Chelsea.